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Building the Young Reader's Brain, Birth Through Age 8

Building the Young Reader's Brain, Birth Through Age 8

Third Edition
  • Pamela Nevills - Educational Consultant and Teacher Educator, Southern California

June 2023 | 304 pages | Corwin

A practical guide to teaching the way a child’s brain learns best

In this update of a bestselling classic, you will learn how to develop children’s capacity and will to read. Each sequential chapter is practical, eye-opening, and exactly what you need to engage young learners, plan lessons, partner with parents, and align your PreK-3 classrooms to the science of learning and the science of reading. Gain the latest insights on:

  • Brain development from birth to age eight, plus the skills to nourish it, age by age and grade by grade
  • What the latest neuroscientific research now says about oral language acquisition
  • The evidence base for practices such as read alouds, inventive spelling, and sustained silent reading
  • Why vocabulary building must happen concurrently with phonological processing, decoding, fluency, spelling, and writing
  • How to artfully combine explicit teaching of skills with playful, multi-sensory routines every day

All aspects of memory are needed to develop successful readers. When we engage children’s brains and build our teaching practices around what we know about how the human brain makes meaning, literacy learning makes more sense for children… and for us.

About the Author
Chapter 1: Learning From Birth to 2 Years
Chapter 2: Rapid Learning for 2- and 3-Year-Olds
Chapter 3: Preparing for This World at Age 4
Chapter 4: School Routines and Rapid Learning for 4- and 5-Year-Olds
Chapter 5: Preparing for Reading at Ages 4–6
Chapter 6: Teaching for Reading in First Grade
Chapter 7: Second-Grade Readers
Chapter 8: Transition Time for Third-Grade Readers
Chapter 9: Assessing and Responding to Readers With Disabilities
Chapter 10: Teachers and Students as Learning Partners
Chapter 11: Conclusion: A Dozen Key Learnings
Appendix A: Continuum of Developmental Benchmarks: Birth to Age 5
Appendix B: Cognitive Skills for Learning
Appendix C: Quick Reference Guide for Memory Systems
References and Resources

"The explanation of the brain’s processes and growth across early childhood helps the experienced reading teacher understand how some readers have developed good strategies while others ignore essential cues and struggle.  For those newer to teaching, the idea that so many parts of the brain have to work in concert to coordinate the reading process provides a glimpse into the work teachers must do to support young children in achieving the level of literacy necessary for success. It takes expertise and systematic planning to support readers who have a variety of strengths and weaknesses. This book provides why readers may struggle and what strategies and support might be just what the neuroscientist ordered!"


Carol Gallegos
ELA Curriculum Specialist, Retired, Hanford Elementary School District, CA

"This book can be utilized as a functional tool for parents and teachers to better support our young children in the beginning of their reading skill acquisition and individual literacy journeys. In fact, I believe that the relevancy of content throughout the book is one of its major strengths. Needless to say, this is an important topic, and I am certain that the support provided to parents and teachers through it will serve young students well. Additionally, I believe that the book provides practical, realistic, and useful guidance to achieve its desired outcome."

Lauren A. Sousa-Coladonato
Graduate Student, Alliant International University

"This book is more important than ever. So many school districts need to bring the science of reading to the forefront in light of our current assessments with NAEP, SATs, and state testing. We need a book like this to engage teachers in a meaningful and engaging way. Its importance and relevancy is extremely clear. During the pandemic, our students lost a great deal of progress and development in reading. This book provides the importance of brain development, reading, speaking, and writing in a practical way for any educator."

Brian E. Fernandes
Reading Specialist, Barrington Public Schools, RI

"Building the Young Reader's Brain provides an in-depth look at the development of the young brain from birth to age eight and moves from verbal language development to reading. You will discover brain-friendly strategies that contribute to reading success and how to provide immediate applications through play, music, games, and more. There is a tremendous amount of valuable information in this book. You will return to again and again to deepen your understanding of the young brain and its acquisition and development of language as preparation for reading. 

Lisa Sousa
Educator, San Diego Unified School District

I did not adopt the book because it did not meet all the needs of the course.

Dr Mary Napoli
Education, Penn State Univ-Harrisburg
April 5, 2024
Key features
  • Sheds light on early childhood cognition and language development from birth to 8
  • Provides guidance for optimal early child instructional design for teachers and care providers
  • Offers brain-friendly strategies for promoting reading readiness and reading beginnings
  • Includes reflective questions at the end of each chapter

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ISBN: 9781071888766

ISBN: 9781071888780