Over the last 50 years, there's been a vast outpouring of research about reading development, drawing on insights from neuroscientists, psychologists, linguists, speech pathologists, educators and other experts. I'm sometimes asked to summarize, in plain language, what we've learned so far. These ten maxims represent my best attempt at doing that.
This may seem like a fool's errand, because no set of maxims can fully convey the scope or the nuance of thousands of studies. I hope nevertheless that these maxims might be useful in crystallizing some of the most essential findings. In collaboration with some outstanding researchers and practitioners, I’ve compiled a selective list of studies that underlie each of the ten maxims. The research behind the maxims addresses a wide range of individual differences in reading development, reading difficulties and reading instruction. Taken as a whole, the studies encompass children identified as having dyslexia and other learning disabilities as well as children who struggle with reading as a result of inadequate instruction. Many of the studies also include proficient readers.
Because these maxims are very broad, there is of course more to say about specific sub-populations of students with distinct strengths and needs. I encourage advocates for these students to formulate additional maxims that are not adequately covered by these first ten. Any additions should be in clear, consumer-friendly language and supported by cited studies that report relevant empirical findings.
The overarching message is that learning to read is a complex process involving multiple abilities, skills, and knowledge. Each is essential but none is sufficient on its own.
With that as prologue, here are my ten maxims:
With appreciation to Kelly Butler, Claude Goldenberg, and Noel Gunther.
Contributors: Jane Ashby, Louise Dechovitz, Linda Diamond, Jan Hasbrouck, Kari Kurto, and Julie Washington