The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads

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Daniel T Willingham

  • The Reading Mind
  • The Reading Mind
    A brilliantly crafted, accessible exploration of reading, rooted in contemporary cognitive research

256 pages
ISBN: 9781119301370

A Map to the Magic of Reading

Stop for a moment and wonder: what's happening in your brain right now: as you read this paragraph? How much do you know about the innumerable and amazing connections that your mind is making as you, in a flash, make sense of this request? Why does it matter?

The Reading Mind is a brilliant, beautifully crafted, and accessible exploration of arguably life's most important skill: reading. Daniel T. Willingham, the bestselling author of Why Don't Students Like School?, offers a perspective that is rooted in contemporary cognitive research. He deftly describes the incredibly complex and nearly instantaneous series of events that occur from the moment a child sees a single letter to the time they finish reading. The Reading Mind explains the fascinating journey from seeing letters, then words, sentences, and so on, with the author highlighting each step along the way. This resource covers every aspect of reading, starting with two fundamental processes: reading by sight and reading by sound. It also addresses reading comprehension at all levels, from reading for understanding at early levels to inferring deeper meaning from texts and novels in high school. The author also considers the undeniable connection between reading and writing, as well as the important role of motivation as it relates to reading. Finally, as a cutting-edge researcher, Willingham tackles the intersection of our rapidly changing technology and its effects on learning to read and reading.

Every teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, and school administrator will find this book invaluable. Understanding the fascinating science behind the magic of reading is essential for every educator. Indeed, every "reader" will be captivated by the dynamic but invisible workings of their own minds.

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures xiii

About the Author xv

Acknowledgment xvii

Introduction: The Chicken Milanese Problem 1

1 On Your Marks 13

2 Sound it Out 27

3 Reading at a Glance 55

4 Words, Words, Words 77

5 Reading Comprehension 105

6 Becoming a Reader 135

7 Reading After the Digital Revolution 159

Conclusion: The Utility of Theory 187

Works Cited 201

Index 229

"This is another of Willingham's essential books for educational professionals, and anyone else interested in the reading process--telling them the cognitive science and practical implications of research in the domain of reading. No one does this kind of book better than Willingham!"
- Keith E. Stanovich, author of Progress in Understanding Reading and The Rationality Quotient

"Willingham captures the magic of reading while simultaneously demystifying how we read. He brings key experimental findings to light as he takes us on the journey from recognizing individual words to constructing meaning from text. Beautifully written, clear and accessible, yet still embracing complexities rather than shying away from them--this book is essential reading for anyone interested in how we read."
- Kate Nation, professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford; fellow and tutor in Psychology, St. John's College

"What goes on in the mind as we read? How do people learn to read? What motivates some to read more than others? For those curious about these questions, and for those who care about children learning to read and growing as readers, this delightful book explains this highly complex topic through fascinating studies and lively examples. With probing questions included, The Reading Mind will make a terrific book club read or textbook."
- Ellen McIntyre, dean and professor, College of Education, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

"Willingham's work will deepen your understanding of the many facets of reading and literacy, as well as how the brain processes what amounts to an astoundingly complex and historically unlikely process. This book should be required reading for anyone with a vested interest in the written word."
- Kristofor Lauricella, History teacher, High School for Youth & Community Development, Brooklyn, New York

"Willingham's ability to make cognitive research on reading coherent and comprehensible is exceptional. This book should be standard fare in every doctoral education course on reading."
- Isabel L. Beck, Professor Emerita, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh