In this book, two psychologists apply principles of cognitive psychology to understanding reading. Unlike most other books on the subject, this one presents a consistent theoretical point of view and applies it to the acquisition of reading and what the skilled reader does.
The first part of The Psychology of Reading covers perceptual learning, the development of cognitive strategies, the development of language, the nature of writing systems, and an extensive review of the research on word recognition.
In the second part of the book, the authors look closely at abilities that children bring to school before learning to read. They describe the acquisition of initial reading skills and transition to skilled reading, the nature of the reading process in adult readers, and the ways people learn from reading.
The book's third part takes up questions people frequently ask about reading—such as reading by deaf children, dyslexia, the influence of nonstandard dialects on learning to read, comparison of reading achievement across different nations and different languages, and the debatable virtues of "speed reading."
The authors conclude that reading cannot be understood simply as associative learning—that is, the learning of an arbitrary code connecting written symbols and their sounds. Reading involves higher-level mental processes such as the discovery of rules and order, and the extraction of structured, meaningful information.
About the Author
Eleanor J. Gibson is Susan Linn Sage Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Cornell University.