It is incidentally worth observing that something quite mysterious, almost magical, occurs during this stage (of elementary reading). At one moment in the course of his development the child, when faced with a series of symbols on a page, finds them quite meaningless. Not much later-perhaps only two or three weeks later- he has discovered meaning in them; he knows that they say “The cat sat on the hat.” How this happens no one really knows, despite the efforts of philosophers and psychologists over two and a half millennia to study the phenomenon. …Indeed, this discovery of meaning in symbols may be the most astounding intellectual feat that any human being ever performs-and most humans preform it before they are seven years old!

  • Mortimer Jerome J Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), 25.