Friday, July 15, 2016

Book deserts: enough to make one weep

From The Atlantic:

"In 2001, Neuman co-authored a study that found that in a middle-class community in Philadelphia, each child had access to 13 books. In a community of concentrated poverty in the same city, on the other hand, there was only a single age-appropriate book per 300 kids—or about 33 titles total, all of which were coloring books. Now, she’s out with a new study, published this month in the journal Urban Education, that helps paint a clearer picture of the nation’s “book deserts,” finding intense disparities in access to children’s reading resources in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.—even between a very poor neighborhood and a slightly-less-poor one within a given city.

"Neuman and her co-author on the new study, Naomi Moland, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, walked and biked the streets of two neighborhoods in each of the aforementioned cities, meticulously combing each block for businesses selling print resources for kids of any age, including fiction and nonfiction books and newspapers. Overall, they found just 75 such stores—or about 2 percent of all the businesses in those neighborhoods—selling print resources for children ages 0 through 18; many of them were dollar stores. And especially after breaking down the data by neighborhood and age group, it became clear: Children’s books are a rarity in high-poverty urban communities. The likelihood that a parent could find a book for purchase in these areas, Neuman and Moland write, “is very slim...”

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