Language at the Speed of Sight by Mark Seidenberg
How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It

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A worthy primer on the science of comprehending language at the visible, symbolic level of print, a place that requires plenty of brain power and years of practice to navigate.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

In 2011, when an international survey reported that students in Shanghai dramatically outperformed American students in reading, math, and science, President Obama declared it a "Sputnik moment": a wake-up call about the dismal state of American education. Little has changed, however, since then: over half of our children still read at a basic level and few become highly proficient. Many American children and adults are not functionally literate, with serious consequences. Poor readers are more likely to drop out of the educational system and as adults are unable to fully participate in the workforce, adequately manage their own health care, or advance their children's education.

In Language at the Speed of Sight, internationally renowned cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg reveals the underexplored science of reading, which spans cognitive science, neurobiology, and linguistics. As Seidenberg shows, the disconnect between science and education is a major factor in America's chronic underachievement. How we teach reading places many children at risk of failure, discriminates against poorer kids, and discourages even those who could have become more successful readers. Children aren't taught basic print skills because educators cling to the disproved theory that good readers guess the words in texts, a strategy that encourages skimming instead of close reading. Interventions for children with reading disabilities are delayed because parents are mistakenly told their kids will catch up if they work harder. Learning to read is more difficult for children who speak a minority dialect in the home, but that is not reflected in classroom practices. By building on science's insights, we can improve how our children read, and take real steps toward solving the inequality that illiteracy breeds.

Both an expert look at our relationship with the written word and a rousing call to action, Language at the Speed of Sight is essential for parents, educators, policy makers, and all others who want to understand why so many fail to read, and how to change that.
 

About Mark Seidenberg

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Mark Seidenberg is Hilldale Professor and Donald O. Hebb Professor in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin. He is a cognitive neuroscientist who has studied reading and dyslexia for over three decades. He received a Ph.D. and three other degrees from Columbia University. He has published over a hundred scientific articles and was recently honored as one of the 250 most-cited researchers in the areas of psychology and psychiatry.
 
Published January 3, 2017 by Basic Books. 400 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Language at the Speed of Sight
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Nov 07 2016

A worthy primer on the science of comprehending language at the visible, symbolic level of print, a place that requires plenty of brain power and years of practice to navigate.

Read Full Review of Language at the Speed of Sigh... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Aug 24 2017

Seidenberg’s analysis is backed up by numerous studies and tables of data. His approach is pragmatic, myth-destroying, and rooted in science—and his writing makes for powerful reading.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by David Kipen on Dec 28 2016

Mr. Seidenberg’s book won’t end the debate between scientists and the educational establishment over how children should learn to read, but it should jump-start an overdue conversation.

Read Full Review of Language at the Speed of Sigh... | See more reviews from NY Times

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by David Kipen on Jan 06 2017

Seidenberg’s book won’t end the debate between scientists and the educational establishment over how children should learn to read, but it should jump-start an overdue conversation.

Read Full Review of Language at the Speed of Sigh... | See more reviews from National Post arts

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