Margaret McNamara, a former teacher, tutoring some boys in 1966, gave them some books to keep. They were delighted; but she was astonished that they never owned any books.

KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman reports that was the beginning of Reading is Fundamental, which provides books for kids in every state.

Research has shown that simply giving kids books has been as effective as summer school. While middle class youngsters have books at home, those from low income families must go for books to libraries and community centers in sometimes dangerous neighborhoods, an article in USA Today points out.

Richard Allington, of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, led a study in 17 high poverty schools in Florida. For three consecutive years, selected children were given 12 books the last day of school from a list the students provided.

Altogether 842 students received books; at the end of three years, those who got the books had significantly higher reading scores than the 478 who did not have that advantage. All of us can be involved in boosting reading skills. Donate new and gently used books for kids in the summer.