Causes and Contributing Factors

Why is learning to read so difficult? The root cause of reading difficulties (in most children) can be understood in terms of the complex interplay between:

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“Some people there are who, being grown; forget the horrible task of learning to read. It is perhaps the greatest single effort that the human undertakes, and he must do it as a child.”  – John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize Winning Author

“No one is to blame, we are all responsible”

“We’re saying that it’s a miracle that it ever happens. It’s very unsurprising that many people struggle with it.” –Dr. Michael Merzenich, Keck Center for Integrative Neurosciences, University of California at San Francisco

Many other factors contribute to and exacerbate these root issues: Innate learning differences and disabilitiesparental education and involvementpreschools and print exposure all contribute to a child’s readiness or lack thereof. Limited English proficiency, the proliferation of media (TV, Video Games…), incompetent instruction, inadequate teacher training, the 3rd-to-4th grade switch to ‘reading to learn“, our education system’s resistance to change, and our society’s shallow thinking about reading all exacerbate the confusion. Making all of the above more difficult, educators, parents, and society as a whole, conspire (unintentionally but insidiously-pervasively) to cause children to feel like they are at fault for the difficulties they experience.