Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Opening the Floodgates: The Effects of Access to Picture Books and Beginning Chapter Books on Children's Reading Achievement


Writing Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


While students in rural Kenya occasionally attain outstanding results on national standardized exams, employers and education professionals continue to express concern over students' lack of reading comprehension in both English and Kiswahili. Attempts have been made to remedy this deficiency through intensive phonics practice and through incorporating literary texts into English and Kiswahili language classes. However, these changes have not resulted in better reading comprehension. Several studies from countries including New Zealand, Fiji and Japan in which students at rural schools were provided with large numbers of high interest picture books and beginning chapter books and with time to read outside of class instruction time, have shown large gains in student reading comprehension and also in time spent in leisure reading, which is also correlated with improved reading skills. In order to replicate these results, Kenyan primary schools need to significantly increase student access to high interest picture books and chapter books. Students also need more informal, unprogrammed access to leisure reading books during the school day.

Conference Name

Simbolei Literacy Outreach Conference for Teachers

Conference Location

Iten, Kenya

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