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Can your baby actually read?

Updated on August 29, 2011

I'm sure you've seen a commercial for the product "Your Baby Can Read". They have the parents talk about how surprised they were when they tried it and at the end their baby could READ!! They have the narrator with the great voice and the animation of the baby and its brain and how the product works. Then of course they have the videos with the babies successfully appearing to read the flash cards. Honestly, I don't know if it works for sure. The science sounds good and the videos of the reading babies look like the babies are reading but should your baby read? As a person who has experienced the shock of meeting someone my age (college student) who can't read sufficiently I decided to shed some light on the process of learning to read.


My Understanding

From what I know about "Your Baby Can Read" the baby sees the word, hears the word, is shown a picture of the word, while saying and/or doing the word. Those are the infomercials words pretty much verbatim. That process is effective in my experience and according to most studies I've read. The reason why is because the combination of seeing, doing and potentially saying something stores the information in at least two different parts of the brain. This gives the learner, the baby, a wider base to remember the word. That is completely legitimate. I just have one question to ask, what does a picture of justice look like?

That question above is just one of many logical questions I've come up with. How do you show a picture of any idea? You don't. Then again when does your baby need to know all that? I'm sure you can get away with skipping all the words that can't be easily shown in a picture. Well I'd argue why does your baby need to read if they can't speak? However, I'll let that one go. It makes sense that everyone wants to give their kid the best start possible. I understand but let me explain the flaws as I see them.

The Flaws

Other than the likely limited number of words your baby can learn there is one glaring flaw that, I find, weakens the bedrock of a great idea. Yes, your baby is learning to read but your baby is only learning to read the words that product teaches them. The baby isn't learning letters they are learning words. It may not be evident yet but that is a BIG problem.

The full word style of learning isn't effective once that baby comes upon a word they haven't seen. They can't sound out this new word because they don't know letters or they sounds they make. That lack of word foundation is like putting the cart in front of the horse, you will get nowhere. Remember Hooked on Phonics? There were cassette tapes and the lady's voice that said "a e i o u are vowels and sometimes y". That lady had it right. Knowing the letters and the sounds they make are the building blocks of good reading. Reading is the key to comprehension. Comprehension is the foundation of literally all knowledge. If you have no blocks how do you build the foundation?

How its done

The alphabet is and has always been the way you learn to read. The learner has to start letter by letter. A makes the ah sound, B makes the buh sound and so on. Granted every English word can not be sounded out but your child has a better chance if they can look at they word, break it down to its sounds and say each individually then put them all together. Your baby will not learn the ph at the beginning of word makes the f sound just learning the word phone. They will just know that word. Your child won't know that y makes the yuh sound at the beginning of a word and the e sound and the end of word by knowing the word yellow. Programs like Hooked on Phonics went through all of that material. Looking at a word like justice and not having seen it before a child with the building blocks of letters could go into their library of knowledge and potentially sound it out. A child that knows how to read some words won't be able to do that.


My opinion, let your baby be a baby. You could likely buy several sets of alphabet building blocks with the money you would use for "Your Baby Can Read". Chances are your baby can enjoy alphabet blocks in several ways and for quite a while, building, chewing, throwing, etc. You're probably better off singing the ABCs as a lullaby.


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    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 6 years ago from California

      I thought both of my kids to read as babies. I used Your Baby Can Read but I also taught phonics using Doing both sight words and phonics is best. It's always a good idea to use more than one method.

    • zanin profile image

      zanin 6 years ago from London, England

      I don't know of this system, I will look it up. However, when we teach a child to read we should use a variety of methods - sight reading, phonics and so on. These babies are being taught to sight read - which is not a bad thing. At least they understand that words are shapes and that each shape relates to a different word. This is a good foundation. A child that can sight read, will very quickly be able to pick up phonics and other reading methods to help them read further. Good post. Voted up. Nina