Learning to read

I tried to find the source of this “brain study” that has been circulating through the internet for a few years, but no success. So I can’t credit the original source, and I have no idea what the “study” proved. Still, I think it’s interesting, so I’m sharing it here:

7H15 M3554G3

53RV35 7O PR0V3

H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!

1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!

1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD,

BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3,

Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY,

W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.

B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.

PL3453 SH4R3 1F U 4R3 0N3 0F 7H3M.

I’m pretty sure it’s not true that “only certain people can read this.” But I do think the characters above give a condensed sense of the brain processes involved in learning to read.


I have a specific memory from the time before I could read. My mom had bought me a small doll figurine that was carrying a sign with some kind of message on it. I can picture the doll and the sign, but the characters were nothing more than meaningless scribbles, much like the first line of the above exercise. I remember not being able to read them.


I find it fascinating that as you keep scanning the lines above, they begin to make sense. It’s like learning to read all over again! You begin to recognize symbols and patterns, and they take on meaning.

Learning to readFor children who are learning to read, letters are generally the first instance of something whose perspective can change the meaning. Children are used to dealing with physical objects that are recognizable from any position—a bike is still a bike, for example, whether it is standing on its tires or lying on its side. So it takes kids a while to learn that a “d” is not the same thing as a “p”—it may be exactly the same shape, but a different position gives that symbol a whole different meaning.


Generally, it doesn’t really matter what symbol is used, as long as it is used consistently. But of course, that’s what makes English such a difficult language to learn! There seem to be a lot of inconsistencies or exceptions to the rules. (Much of that is because we have borrowed words from a lot of other languages.) So learning to speak and write “correctly” is a matter of learning the standard rules and then mastering all the exceptions.


And, of course, if you don’t have the time or the interest to master all the exceptions yourself, you can hire an exceptional professional (like LifeLines) to do some of your communicating for you!

LifeLines—helping you share your story
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