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. 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.
"Few works of science ever achieve Italo Calvino's six qualities of our best writing: Lightness, exactitude, visibility, quickness, and consistency. Mark Seidenberg's new book on the science of reading and its profound implications for educational practice achieves just that. With both wit and rigor, he pulls no punches as he lays bare both the egregious errors that persist in the teaching of reading, and their antidote in knowledge of the reading brain. If every educator, parent, and policy-maker would read and heed the content of this book, the rates of functional illiteracy, with all their destructive sequelae for children and society, would be significantly reduced."--Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid
400 pages. 2017