Phonological Skills and Learning to Read: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Phonological Skills and Learning to Read

1st Edition

By Usha Goswami, Peter Bryant

Psychology Press

174 pages

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pub: 1990-12-25
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This book sets out to integrate recent exciting research on the precursors of reading and early reading strategies adopted by children in the classroom. It aims to develop a theory about why early phonological skills are crucial in learning to read, and shows how phonological knowledge about rhymes and other units of sound helps children learn about letter sequences when beginning to be taught to read.

The authors begin by contrasting theories which suggest that children's phonological awareness is a result of the experience of learning to read and those that suggest that phonological awareness precedes, and is a causal determinant of, reading. The authors argue for a version of the second kind of theory and show that children are aware of speech units, called onset and rime, before they learn to read and spell. An important part of the argument is that children make analogies and inferences about these letter sequences in order to read and write new words.


"Goswami and Bryant assemble an impressive number of research studies which bear on their thesis, outlining them clearly and succinctly. They write persuasively but never dogmatically, revealing a refreshing willingness to give credit to theoretical positions other than their own. This book deserves serious attention by all those who are keen to relate the practice of the teaching of reading to theory which is firmly grounded in careful empirical work." - Katherine Perera, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this monograph…The argument is a delight…This will be a very valuable contribution to thinking about the role of phonological processing in reading and in learning to read, but it will also be usable as an undergraduate text. I shall certainly consider using it to support my own course on Reading and Understanding." - Professor Geoffrey Underwood, Reader in Cognitive Psychology, University of Nottingham

"This book really gives one the feeling that progress has been made. The meticulous stock-taking evident in the extensive literature review has brought this out. The great puzzle of the phoneme in literacy is virtually solved. The hunt for this solution has been one of the most exciting enterprises in psychology today. Moreover, it has brought developmental psychology into direct contact with educational practice. This book is scholarly yet clear, didactic yet fun to read. It can be recommended to anybody who has ever wondered how children learn to read…I am wholly enthusiastic about this book, and I believe that it will be much in demand as a set course book." - Dr Uta Frith, MRC Cognitive Development Unit, London

"I think this is an excellent and timely book. It has been a pleasure reviewing it." - Dr Charles Hulme, Reader in Psychology, University of York

"Perhaps the real contribution of this attractive monograph is that it offers a new conceptualisation of the relationship between speech and literacy which can give an exciting direction for future research." - P.H.K. Seymour, Professor of Cognitive Psychology, University if Dundee, in The Times Higher Educational Supplement

Table of Contents

Phonological Awareness and Reading. How Children Read Words. Spelling and Phonological Awareness. How Children Read and Write New Words. Comparisons with Backward Readers and Spellers. Correlations and Longitudinal Predictions. Teaching Children About Sound. Do Children Read and Fail to Learn to Read in Different Ways from Each Other. Theories About Learning to Read.

About the Series

Essays in Developmental Psychology

Essays in Developmental Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in developmental psychology.

The series defines developmental psychology in its broadest terms and covers such topics as social development, cognitive development, developmental neuropsychology and neuroscience, language development, learning difficulties, developmental psychopathology and applied issues.

Each volume in the series makes a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

Authors in this series provide an overview of their own highly successful research program, but they also include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book is a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a coherent review of important research as well as its context, theoretical grounding and implications.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology