Seriously? Babies Reading? Yes!

Josie Leavitt - August 18, 2009

I’ll admit to spending too much time on the Internet. Last night, I was curious to see if there were any truly smart babies out there. I went to Google and typed in "babies reading" and honestly expected to not get much back. Well, it seems there are some stunningly bright babies. No, these aren’t laughing babies, or funny babies, these are actual babies, reading. Reading!

Check out this little twelve-month-old. I have watched this three times because I just can’t believe it.  Reading babies. This little one can’t even speak, but her word recognition is, quite frankly, scary. Honestly, I wasn’t reading this well until I was six.

I love the dad’s easy erase toy — as if to prove this is actually happening. I can only imagine the questions this family will have for their local bookseller.

"She’s two, but reading at a tenth grade level. Can you recommend something for her?" Um, no, not really. I recommend she go play in the sandbox and read some Frog and Toad.

Check out this seventeen-month-old who somehow showed up on the Today Show.
All these smart babies got me thinking about how little ones learn to read. Let’s face it, most kids are not nearly as precocious as their families think they are. They learn to read the same way we did — they learn their letters, they sound out words and they discover the joy of stories. As we get ready for the school year to begin I see a lot of kindergartners and first graders feeling pressure that they don’t know how to read yet. Oh, the pressure starts so early.

There are loads of great books now to help kids learn to read. Among my favorites are the Now I’m Reading!

series by Innovative Kids. This series has two volumes now that go from pre-reading to independent reading, the art is very kid-friendly, there are 40 stickers, and the thing that parents like the best — a parent’s

guide to help them teach their kids. The best part is each book comes with ten small books, so there’s a real sense of accomplishment when a child’s finished a book.

Candlewick has a similarly successful series: Brand New Readers, which works along the same lines. Ten books in a set, certificate of achievement and poster to track the child’s reading. Great art and lots of fun characters to choose from.

And the last book I want to recommend for early readers is one from Random House that I literally unboxed last week. The Big Green Book of Beginner Books, featuring six fully illustrated titles by Dr. Seuss. There is a mix of familiar Wacky Wednesday, I Wish I Had Duck Feet and not so familiar titles, like Maybe You Should Fly a Jet! Maybe You Should Be a Vet!, Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog?, so the book won’t duplicate many collections.

So, if your baby isn’t reading yet, don’t despair.  He shouldn’t be. Babies who read are amazing, but not the norm. And when your child gets ready, you’ve got lots of great books to choose from. For now, babies should be laughing, like this little one.

6 thoughts on “Seriously? Babies Reading? Yes!

  1. Just1Voice

    The top baby recognizes patterns well. She associates those word patterns with an action, as she’s been trained. Just as many babies associate a picture of a cow with a sound their parent taught them–Moo. She doesn’t really read, as in understand meaning, and she certainly doesn’t know that words are made of letters. The second baby however can do the second at least. Pretty awesome!

  2. Jen

    There is a commercial on Sprout for a product called My Baby Can Read. Everytime I see it I wish I had a gun to shoot at the TV. As a librarian it’s very disturbing to see parents pressuring their kids to learn how to read at such an early age. Just because they can learn doesn’t mean they should. Just because a 6 yr old reads at a 9th grade level doesn’t mean they are ready to read books at that level (can a 6 yr old really understand the complexities of The Giver?). Grrrr!!!!

  3. shelftalker elizabeth

    Funny coincidence. Today, an author came into the store and asked if we carried her books. She writes about parenting and education, and one of her titles is, Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. Hear, hear!


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