As .... alluded to, there is a school of thought (supported both by research and anecdotal reports) that reading is primarily a developmental task and that many a diagnosis of "dyslexia" is actually when we attempt to push the brain to go beyond its capabilities at any given time. Imagine diagnosing all of our 9 month olds who weren't pulling up and cruising with paraparesis.
|Phil and Pam on Flickr|
A couple of links.... this is a site of stories of learning to read in various ways at various ages (Think of it as _How Weaning Happens_) http://sandradodd.com/reading. I will say that Sandra Dodd rubs me totally the wrong way, but don't let that deter you from the useful stuff she has on her site. These are a couple of academic researchers who have decided to focus on unschooling families http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com/0904/Alan_Thomas.htm. There is also some good stuff in the work of Raymond and Dorothy Moore (_Better Late than Early_, etc).
In the end it has helped me to think of it a bit like potty learning. I can spend months or years in a miserable battle with a kid that just isn't ready or I can watch their developmental timeline and avoid the headaches and potential long-term (and life-long) fall-out of a less than positive experience.
ps - this is absolutely not to dismiss observations of different learning styles. Just like with potty learning, weaning, crawling, etc there are different motivations and strategies that work better for all of us.