The book is a departure from current neuropsychological research which is limited to the middle-class dyslexic child. It argues the need for a multidisciplinary approach which takes into account the effects of poverty, socioeconomic deprivation and environmental toxicity on reading acquisition among children from deprived groups. Purushottam Patel discusses a number of important issues including:
- The linguistic context and principles underlying the Brahmi script.
- The reasons behind literacy emerging as a part of natural language development, especially in an oral culture.
- The cultural habits surrounding reading.
- The importance of the living environment to literacy development.
- The need for multidisciplinary research, with an emphasis on neurobehavioral teratology.