Erika RS's Reviews > The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads

The Reading Mind by Daniel T. Willingham
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really liked it
bookshelves: kindle, owned

This book contains an overview of cognitive models of the different tasks involved in reading. The strength of this book is its clarity. Each chapter is focused and well structured to make it easy to understand the key points. Each chapter opens with an agenda for that chapter and ends with a summary and implications. The separation of the summary and implications highlights another strength of the books: Willingham's careful separation of what we know from research and ways that can be applied, e.g., in the classroom.

On the theoretical side, the tasks involved in reading are letter recognition, translating letters to sounds, translating sounds to words, figuring out the meanings of words, connecting the meanings of words to extract the meanings of sentences, of sentences to get the meaning of passages, and extracting ideas to get an overall sense of a text. The common theme among these is that at all levels, reading is a statistical process. We see information and it activates an information network. Identification is accomplished when one option is sufficiently more strongly activated than the rest. This is especially interesting in the context of word meanings. We do not represent words with concrete meanings. Rather words/concepts are connected with each other and the strength of connections define words.

On the practical side, the most important tool for improving all of the tasks involved in reading is to do more reading, especially in ways that encourage positive emotional attitudes. This may make improving reading skills seem like a hopeless, circular task. However, Willingham presents some ways of kickstarting the cycle. We can provide opportunities to read for utility (e.g., if kids are interested in pets or cooking, encourage them to read about the topic). We can also encourage positive associations with reading, e.g., bedtime reading, books as gifts, and reading as a family value.

Overall, this was a good read, despite the occasional flow-impacting meta that comes from reading a book about reading. :-)

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Reading Progress

July 18, 2018 – Shelved
July 18, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
July 18, 2018 – Shelved as: kindle
July 18, 2018 – Shelved as: owned
February 9, 2019 – Started Reading
February 17, 2019 – Finished Reading

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