Reading and the Brain

In October of 2011, Dr. Christopher Kaufman, Ph.D., licensed Psychologist and author of Executive Function in the Classroom, discussed how reading comprehension and the brain work together at the University of Southern Maine for “Reading Matters to Maine”.

Dr. Kaufman shared that as humans we are born to learn to speak, understand spoken language, use abstract reasoning, and develop executive capacity. However, we are not born prewired to read. In order to become literate the brain has to rewire itself within the first 10 years of life.

Thus, phonics are an essential core aspect to early reading and must be taught to students, rather than left to chance.

He backs his statements up by discussing the amount of time humans have been reading. Oral language has been used for more than 1 million years, such a long amount of time that it is embedded into our DNA. Literacy, on the other hand has only been used for 5000 years and commonly used for a few hundred years. Literacy has not been in practice for enough time to hardwire the brain to read. We must rewire children’s brains to recognize letter/sound association and letter/word association. For a handful of children this rewiring comes easily, but for many children it is very hard and needs more attention.

To view the highlights of Dr. Kaufman’s presentation click here:

Or to view the entire presentation click here: