BookLife Review

BookLife Review

The title of this impassioned call for improving children’s reading is a bit of a pun, but the book, ideal for parents seeking to develop within their children a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of reading, makes a highly serious and persuasive case. Noting that 42 million Americans are functionally illiterate, a fact psychologist and teacher Rubman laments is “readiculous,” This May Be Difficult to Read considers, in disarmingly charming prose, the “fundamentally flawed” American way of teaching this skill that literate adults too often think of as somehow automatic. Rubman demonstrates throughout, with practical guidance and a wealth of compelling research, how that teaching can be more effective, tailored to individual children’s needs and abilities.

Reading is the linchpin of all future learning,” Rubman notes, and she warns that the standard emphasis on “decoding” letters “devoid of meeting” sets kids up to fail. To that end she offers up clear, concise data and analysis of how children’s brains actually develop and process information, shares illuminating anecdotes about her own children’s development, and breaks down the complexities of reading comprehension into an elementary level that will be beneficial for parents with children of all ages. With an inviting spirit, Rubman dispels pervasive myths about childhood development (“the earlier the better,” “repetition is key”), while presenting better options and learning techniques, adaptable to different learning styles.

The result is book that shows how to discover the fun of learning to read, while building a solid foundation of comprehension. Some of the recommendations may surprise parents, such as Rubman’s argument – arranged as a top ten list! – for not teaching kids to read aloud before kindergarten, or why it’s actually beneficial rather than cheating for developing readers to look to illustrations for help in comprehension. The result is eye-opening and convincing, presented in an upbeat, approachable manner.

Takeaway: An inviting corrective on how to teach fundamental reading skills, for parents.

Great for fans of: Jan Burkins & Kari Yates’s Shifting the Balance, Jennifer Serravallo’s The Reading Strategies Book.

Production grades


Cover: A-

Design and typography: A

Illustrations: A

Editing: A

Marketing copy: A

Print Date: 01/16/2023

Today in Education:


“This book is about inspiring the greatest number of children to love reading and the comprehension process so that they can’t wait to pick up a book.”

— Dr. Claire N. Rubman

UNITED STATES, December 12, 2022 / — This may be difficult to read, but did you know:

  • In the last 15 years, 15 million students graduated from high schools testing below the basic reading level (National Center for Education Statistics).
  • One in five college students enroll in remedial reading classes in their freshman year (
  • More than 42 million Americans are functionally illiterate; they can’t follow the directions on a can of soup (National Center for Education Statistics).

Now, a cognitive developmental psychologist who has taught in the classroom for over 30 years has written a new book founded on research-based components to prevent reading comprehension failure.

The book, THIS MAY BE DIFFICULT TO READ by Dr. Claire N. Rubman, outlines past problems and offers numerous solutions to promote a love for literacy.

“I’ve watched my children succeed and fail with phonics, reading, reading comprehension, and learning,” she says. “I’ve seen our collective children hurting, and I’ve also seen them succeed beyond their wildest dreams. I have such a passion for watching them develop a love for reading and learning that I wanted to share it with parents, educators and anyone else concerned with helping our children read.”

Dr. Rubman hopes that this book will serve as a catalyst for change that will disrupt early childhood education so that children of all ages and backgrounds will fall in love with reading. This, in turn, will allow children to learn to use the printed word to think, grow, and challenge the status quo.

This book is designed to alleviate some of the frustration we often experience when trying to teach our children. The book looks at the learning process through a child’s eyes to more fully appreciate how children think, learn, and process information within the context of learning to read and comprehend the written word.

“I have also watched some students struggle badly,” says Dr. Rubman. “These are clearly highly verbal students, but their reading comprehension skills sell them short in the classroom. Granted, textbooks aren’t easy to read—they areoften packed full of facts that develop concepts at a staggering pace—but how were these students prepared for college-level reading? What was their early childhood experience?”

“Will your child be one of the success stories or struggle with textbooks and comprehending the printed word? This book is about inspiring the greatest number of children to love reading and the comprehension process so that they can’t wait to pick up a book.”


CLAIRE N. RUBMAN is a cognitive, developmental psychologist who has taught in the classroom for over 30 years and raised three of her own children. She has seen the struggle first-hand. She earned her PhD from Stony Brook University in 1994 and has been teaching and raising children ever since. She has been teaching at Suffolk County Community College in New York for over 20 years. Aside from work in the classroom, she has given lectures around the country, published magazine articles, served as an “Ask the Expert” for Texas Family Magazine, edited books for McGraw-Hill, worked as a consultant for Relay/GSE, and presented workshops and lectures for the “Distinguished Speaker Series” and the Child Care Councils of Suffolk and Nassau County, NY. Publications, lectures, and workshop topics include: “Pixels vs Play: A Cognitive Developmental Exploration of Play,” “Neuropsychology and Cognition in the Classroom,” “Reading: The Magic Formula,” and “Reading It All Wrong.”

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