Synopses & Reviews
Reading is a miracle, because the brain was never wired for written language. This eloquent, accessible look at reading explores how it has transformed our brains, our lives, and the world.
It took 2,000 years for written language to develop, and it takes 2,000 days for a child's brain to learn to read. During that time, the brain must literally rearrange itself in order to understand written symbols. What happens when a child has difficulty mastering these abilities?
Using down-to-earth examples and personal anecdotes, a preeminent researcher and literacy lover embarks on a lively journey through the reading brain. Drawing on her vast knowledge of neurology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and child development, she shows how the brain that read Sumerian cuneiforms on clay tablets is different from the brain that reads images on a computer screen. Just as writing reduced our need for memory, technology is reducing the need for written language--a change sure to have profound consequences for our future.
Fascinating and revelatory for anyone interested in the science of the brain, for parents of young children learning to read, and for those who want to know more about dyslexia.
“Wolfs first book for a general audience is an eye-opening winner, and deserves a wide readership.”
—Publishers Weekly [starred review]
“Brilliant. One of the best books Ive encountered this year.”
Interweaving her vast knowledge of neurology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy with fascinating down-to-earth examples and lively personal anecdotes, developmental psychologist, neuroscientist, and dyslexia expert Wolf probes the question and#8220;How do we learn to read and write?and#8221; This ambitious and provocative new book offers an impassioned look at reading, its effect on our lives, and explains why it matters so greatly in a digital era.
"Human beings were never born to read," writes Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and child development expert Maryanne Wolf. Reading is a human invention that reflects how the brain rearranges itself to learn something new. In this ambitious, provocative book, Wolf chronicles the remarkable journey of the reading brain not only over the past five thousand years, since writing began, but also over the course of a single child's life, showing in the process why children with dyslexia have reading difficulties and singular gifts.
Lively, erudite, and rich with examples, Proust and the Squid asserts that the brain that examined the tiny clay tablets of the Sumerians was a very different brain from the one this is immersed in today's technology-driven literacy. The potential transformations in this changed reading brain, Wolf argues, have profound implications for every child and for the intellectual development of our species.
About the Author
MARYANNE WOLF is a professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, where she holds the John DiBiaggio Chair of Citizenship and Public Service, and is the director of the Center for Reading and Language Research. A former Fulbright Fellow, she has received numerous awards for her distinguished teaching and research, including from the American Psychological Association, International Dyslexia Association, and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons.