Recommended Reading: Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

January 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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One of the challenges in planning the training for the Basic Adult Literacy Tutoring Program is deciding what knowledge of reading and writing is essential for volunteer tutors to possess.  Obviously the trainings are not meant to be replacements for advanced degrees and can never answer all questions about why, when, or how to use a particular tool.  Instead, the trainings are introductions to basic instruction in beginning reading and writing. The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia tries to provide ongoing support and training to supplement the foundation that is laid during the initial training.  Of course, each time one question is answered, at least two more sprout in its place.

If you have some questions about the basic processes of reading instruction, but aren’t interested in obtaining a Master’s degree or digging through the academic research, take a look at Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf (Harper Perennial 2008).  This is a quick read that blends history, philosophy, and science to explain the most current understanding of reading research and reading disabilities.  It also raises some important questions about our typical conceptualization of what is ‘typical’ and what it means to have a reading disability or Dyslexia.

Wolf directs her attention to typical and atypical reading development in children but it is easy to apply the information to adults; the questions and perspectives she raises are certainly excellent and relevant to Literacy Council learners.  She explains the current science of reading clearly and thoroughly to give any reader a good understanding of the processes underlying what so many of us take for granted.  She also celebrates the wonder of reading and writing in all types of learners, raising questions about some common assumptions about learning to read that can give even the most seasoned teacher cause to reconsider.

Molly Chilton
Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866
www.lcnv.org

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  1. I just finished reading “Proust and the Squid” and found it very enlightening. I now understand so much more about what it means to be dyslexic and how this is not a bad thing, just different. I have always found the workings of the brain fascinating, and this book greatly added to my knowledge and fascination with how the brain works when we read and write. Thanks for the recommendation!

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