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Proust and the Squid: A Must-Read for Parents with Kids Struggling to Read

November 5th, 2010

Proust and the Squid: A Must-Read for Parents with Kids Struggling to Read

This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman

If your child is struggling with reading in particular, is actually dyslexic, or possesses some other impediment to learning such a valuable skill, then it’s important to know as much as possible about the process that undergirds the act of reading in the first place. While there’s a lot of literature on the topic out there, Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain is a very accessible book about reading that’s an enjoyable and fascinating experience as well.

In her preface, Wolf establishes themes that she explores throughout the book. She notes:

“We know that each new type of writing system developed through millennia of human history, and required different adaptations of the human brain; we know that the multifaceted development of reading extends from infancy to ever-deepening levels of expertise; and we know that the curious mix of challenge and mix to be found in dyslexia in which the brain struggles to learn to read contains insights that our transforming our understanding of reading.”

Wolf’s book is an intriguing mix of different academic disciplines that gives readers an insight into what exactly is going on when we set our eyes on words and interpret them. She delves into literature, history, anthropology, neuroscience and much more to illuminate how our species came to be readers in the first place, especially since, unlike speech, it isn’t an activity that is naturally ingrained in anyone.

In the second part of her book, Wolf examines dyslexia at close range. She explains how the tremendous advances in neuroscience and biology of the last few decades have helped us to more intimately understand the nature of the disability. Wolf also recounts her personal experiences with her dyslexic son, and she moreover peppers her book with anecdotes taken from her professional life as a the director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in Boston, where she works with readers of all ages.

The best part about Wolf’s wonderful book is that it eloquently captures why reading can be such an enjoyable and transformative experience. It also offers hope for those suffering from dyslexia by demonstrating how amazingly pliable and regenerative our brain circuitry is. For lovers of reading, scientists, educators, and parents, “Proust and the Squid” has something to offer everyone.

For more information on the book, you can read the Guardian book review here.

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This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: olivia.coleman33 @gmail.com.

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