Understanding Reading revolutionized reading research and theory when the first edition appeared in 1971 and continues to be a leader in the field. In the sixth edition of this classic text Smith’s purpose remains the same: to shed light on fundamental aspects of the complex human act of reading – linguistic, physiological, psychological, and social – and of what is involved in learning to read.

The text critically examines current theories, instructional practices, and controversies, covering a wide range of disciplines but always remains accessible. Careful attention is given to the ideological clash that continues between whole language and direct instruction and currently permeates every aspect of theory and research into reading and reading instruction. In every edition, including the present one, Smith has steadfastly resisted giving teachers a recipe for teaching reading, while aiming to help them make their own decisions, based on research about reading, which is accessible to anyone, and their experience and personal knowledge of their students, which only they possess. To aid readers in making up their own minds, each chapter concludes with a brief statement of "Issues."

Understanding Reading, Sixth Edition is matchless in integrating a wide range of topics relative to reading while, at the same time, being highly readable and user-friendly for instructors, students, and practitioners.

chapter 1|11 pages

The Essence of Reading

chapter 2|19 pages

Comprehension and Knowledge

chapter 3|24 pages

Spoken and Written Language

chapter 4|17 pages

Information and Experience

chapter 5|23 pages

Between Eye and Brain

chapter 6|15 pages

Bottlenecks of Memory

chapter 7|15 pages

Letter Identification

chapter 8|13 pages

Word Identification

chapter 9|18 pages

Phonics and Mediated Word Identification

chapter 10|22 pages

The Identification of Meaning

chapter 11|16 pages

Reading, Writing, and Thinking

chapter 12|18 pages

Learning About the World

chapter 13|21 pages

Learning About Written Language