Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in 463 Classrooms

37 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2014

See all articles by Jonathan Guryan

Jonathan Guryan

Northwestern University - Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) Program; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James Kim

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

David Quinn

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Date Written: November 2014

Abstract

There are large gaps in reading skills by family income among school-aged children in the United States. Correlational evidence suggests that reading skills are strongly related to the amount of reading students do outside of school. Experimental evidence testing whether this relationship is causal is lacking. We report the results from a randomized evaluation of a summer reading program called Project READS, which induces students to read more during the summer by mailing ten books to them, one per week. Simple intent-to-treat estimates show that the program increased reading during the summer, and show significant effects on reading comprehension test scores in the fall for third grade girls but not for third grade boys or second graders of either gender. Analyses that take advantage of within-classroom random assignment and cross-classroom variation in treatment effects show evidence that reading more books generates increases in reading comprehension skills, particularly when students read carefully enough to be able to answer basic questions about the books they read, and particularly for girls.

Suggested Citation

Guryan, Jonathan and Kim, James and Quinn, David, Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in 463 Classrooms (November 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20689, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2529842

Jonathan Guryan (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) Program ( email )

2046 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James Kim

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David Quinn

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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