Role of reading

The key insights in the development of reading in children

The following are the key insights into development of reading among children:
1. Reading is a composite skill and at the broadest level it is composed of character recognition (or the graphic) skill and character to sound translation (phonological) skills. A good command over the two makes for good reading skills.
2. A child can be trained to read in any language because reading in a language is essentially using the generic image processing capability called orthographics and it can be applied on any language
3. The process of maturation of reading is in reality the time it takes to train the visual processing mechanisms in our brain to get used to the neural equivalent of the symbols of the writing system under use.
4. Reading must also be continually ‘practiced’ because the visual and phonological abilities undergo significant experience-led refinement.
5. There is an interesting twist too – perhaps epigenetic works in the case of reading – evidence supports the contention that the component processes of reading (e.g., orthographic skill, phonological skill, phonemic awareness, word recognition) are heritable!
6. The most commonly observed cognitive disruption associated with reading difficulty in a language is the presence of phonological processing difficulties such as rhyming skills and other tasks that require accessing and manipulating sounds within words.
7. The prevailing theory of reading disability, the core phonological deficit hypothesis, holds that reading failure or dyslexia stems from a functional
or structural deficit in left hemispheric brain areas associated with processing the sounds of language. (Source: Wikipedia).
8. Reading ability does depend upon language characteristics. The strength of the visual-phonological bonding with respect to letter, words and other symbols, varies across languages. For instance, a language with predictable spelling-to-sound patterns will be easier to read compared to a language with weaker consistency in mapping of letters and sound.
9. Special mention must be made of logographic languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. In these languages there is apparently a stronger relationship between character writing abilities and reading ability, and a weaker relationship between their phonological skills and reading ability. In other words, in such languages the orthographic competence is the more critical base than phonological competence.
This discussion draws from “Development of neural systems for reading” by Bradley L. Schlaggar and Bruce D. McCandliss, Copyright © 2007 by Annual Reviews

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