Students need to read.
It's really that simple.
We worry about teaching them to read, and often focus on having them read at "grade level" by grade three. However, just learning to read isn't enough. To become capable readers, able and willing to read for both information and enjoyment, students must read, and read much more than many do today. The research suggests that students should be reading about 25 books per year.
Here are some links to research sources on this subject, and to information about St. Paul Reads -- the challenging program instituted in a cooperative effort between the city of St. Paul and the St. Paul Public Schools in 1999. They set a goal of having every student read 25 books. They bought books and worked as a community to make it happen. Under Superintendent Patricia Harvey, they have kept and grown the program each year, and they continue to make progress:
For more information, see www.saintpaulreads.org. Some of the research supporting the need for students to actually read can be found in The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research by Stephen Krashen.
More on Student Effort.