95. The Reading Mind by Daniel Willingham
Having looked into research on first language vocabulary development over two recent episodes, now it's time to get into literacy more generally. What happens in people's minds when they read? And how do they learn to read?
This book breaks down the cognitive elements of the process of reading. Starting from written signs, it describes how these are turned into sounds (via two different mechanisms), and then how those sounds relate to word meanings; these meanings then combine with context and our knowledge of the world to create a picture of what is happening in a given text. On the way, we learn about word segmentation, phonological awareness, orthographic mapping, motivation and attitude, and a range of other important concepts in learning to read.
Daniel Willingham is a cognitive scientist who I've already covered on this podcast for his book Why Don't Students Like School? He spends a lot of time on outreach to explain to teachers (and anybody else) what learning is and how it works. His books are approachable, but also maintain rigour, and stay close to the evidence base of cognitive science. I'm glad to be covering another book of his on the podcast.
Enjoy the episode.