Recommended Read: Proust and the Squid, The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf

One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to catch up on reading that I’ve meant to do all year! During the year, I often read magazines, journals and the paper, but I never quite get through as many books as I intend. So recently, I’ve been on a book kick! After reading Super Crunchers (Check out chapter 7 for a fascinating discussion on direct instruction!) and In the Time of the Butterflies (Don’t you just love Julia Alvarez!), I decided to pick up a book my father gave me at Thanksgiving: Proust and the Squid, The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf.

Proust and the Squid is a fascinating read on how the brain learns to read. Wolf (a professor of child development at Tufts University) manages to cover much of the major research on the science and pedagogy of reading using such engaging prose that you feel like you’re reading a novel–a page-turner at that! She covers the work of Catherine Snow, Irene Fountas, Gay Sue Pinnell, Jeanne Chall and many many more! Part II, How the Brain Learns to Read Over Time should be an essential read for all elementary school teachers as it covers that critical stages a child passes through on his/her way to becoming a reader! One of my favorite things about this book are the quotes from literature that Wolf weaves throughout her discussion. Reading the following quote on the subway yesterday just made me want to curl up and read a book, Wolf’s book!

In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own, I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself. But I felt that I, too, existed much of the time in a different dimension from everyone else I knew. There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island. -Anna Quindlen (pg. 109 of Proust and the Squid)

-Anna

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