Your Baby Can Read

So I was watching TV last week and I saw a commercial that showed a man with a baby and the baby was reading! Yes, reading from flashcards, big words too,…a little baby…reading!  As the baby continued to read the words on the flashcards, I watched with wonderment and awe and thought to myself…………..


When are we going to stop pushing our children to stop being children? Failing children in kindergarten was bad enough but now we have to teach our children to read at 6 months?  Do they really think that a child that can read at 6 months is going to be any further ahead than the child who learns to read in Kindergarten? The bottom line is…by the end of  2nd grade, kids who did learn early and kids who did not are usually at the same level.

Both my children learned to read between the ages of 4 and 5 and they both have an extremely high lexile reading levels. They both love to read and and they both have an extensive vocabulary. Perhaps I am nuts but when my kids were babies, they rolled on the floor and laughed and gurgled

More and more we now expect children to “have it all together” before they are even out of diapers. Get them potty trained ASAP, heck there is even a way to train them in one day! Get them on solid food ASAP.  If they are not talking by a certain age, get them to a speech therapist ASAP.

Go online and Google daycare centers, try to find one called something like  The “let’s just let our children play and have fun ” daycare. You won’t find one.  They are all called names that end with “academy” or “college” or they have the term “learning” or “Einstein” in their names.  What is that? Are we turning out better scholars by teaching our children at a very early age? or even starting them in infancy? according to  a recent Time magazine article, studies show, no we are not. In the latest study on the effects of popular videos such as the “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers

We are pushing and pushing and pushing because we think that the kids will do better in school. I think we are just robbing them of the most important time in their lives. Leave them alone and allow them to learn the natural way, through sights, sounds, touch, play and human interactions. Sure they have to learn to read and do algebra at some time,  but can’t we allow them to be babies and children for as long as possible

Please, let’s just allow an infant to be an infant, to marvel and the sights and sounds, to enjoy this most precious and innocent of times.  NOT be teaching them to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace!

What is YOUR opinion on this?  Do you believe it is a babies best interest to try to teach them to read before they are even one year old? Do you think that in the long term it makes a difference to that child’s education or learning capabilities?


About Julie Labes
Julie Labes: Baby-Boomer Travel Specialist: The Fun-Loving, Feisty, Fearless, Frisky, Fierce Over 50 Traveler Julie owns and operates an internet based full service travel booking engine. She has traveled extensively and lived in several countries including England, Switzerland, 7 years in Athens Greece and now resides in Florida. She has been married 20 years and has two children When not working, she enjoys theater, traveling, music cryptic crosswords and a nice cuppa tea

27 Responses to Your Baby Can Read

  1. I was fascinated by these commercials when I first saw them… I asked my sister, whose an educator, and she told me that there’s no proof that there is any longterm benefit to this. In fact, these babies reach a peak and will eventually read at the level they would normally be at.

    Children need to be children and play, explore and engage with other children!

  2. When I saw the title of your post I thought ‘what the heck! – doesn’t sound like Julie!’. Thank heavens the title was just provocative 🙂 I am in complete agreement with you. In fact both my kids were late readers (7) and now their reading levels are off the charts and they love to read. I got a little stressed with my eldest with the school pressure to make them read as she just could NOT see it. A very wise teacher friend of mine said leave it. Read to your kids, have fun with them and it will fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle fitting together. Both girls went from not reading to reading in a matter of weeks as the veils fell and they are now better readers than most of their ‘bright and early’ reader friends.
    I think children are pushed way too hard and way too early nowadays and that it does NOT lead to brighter adults.
    Louise Edington
    Facing Fears For Freedom

  3. So RELIEVED that this was not a blog in favor of this training for early reading! I had to help my step-daughter get over her fear that she was neglecting her child by not promoting early reading! I am a speech-language pathologist, and I can assure everyone that the research shows that pre-literacy skills are what counts–being read to, learning to appreciate books (even holding them and turning the pages!), being talked to, seeing adults reading. Tons of things to do to promote age-appropriate early learning. Babies who do this so-called reading are just learning sight words.

    Boy, this makes me want to rant! Thanks for taking up the topic in the blog!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer

  4. Fiona Stolze says:

    I’m so not for pushing kids early. I remember when we went to a parents evening before my youngest started school and the headmistress was actually telling us that it was desirable if we could make sure that our kid could write their name…??? Needless to say we totally ignored that.

    I used to read to all of my kids until they were well up in the years. We’d sit huddled on one of the beds in a group and I would read, doing all the different voices of the Lord of the Rings characters. They loved it and adore those books today.

    I say that they will get there in their own time. They will show you when they are ready for the next step. Just make it all fun and you’re well on the way.

    Fiona Stolze

  5. Donna McCord says:

    I was hoping this would not be a post in favor of early readers either! and relieved that it was not! I agree with everyone that has commented here so far, and with you, Julie, that it is tragic to try to force our kids to grow up so fast. I think it is sadly motivated by the parent wanting to brag about how “advanced” their child is more so than for the good of the child. We grow up so fast as it is! Kids should be allowed to be kids as long as they are kids! I wish I could go back and be a kid again sometimes. : )

  6. Why do we do this to our children? When it comes to education I don’t know why people think faster is better. While we are ready to make children read before they talk, we hesitate to give them feedback when they are older for fear their self confidence will be damaged. As a culture we accept learning strategies that plop our little ones in front of a screen and then worry about them being overweight.

    Darcie Newton
    Introducing Alternative Assets to Smart Investors

  7. lisawifemom says:

    If there was a love button I would have clicked it! Every time I see these commercials I think the same thing. I know some pretty together, intelligent adults, none of which learned to read before 1st grade (when we were taught back in the day, not kinder). I was the only first grader in my class that could not count to 100 when we started, yet, I was one of only 4 kids in that elementary school that spent grades 3-6 in a gifted program. I obviously caught up pretty quick.

    I could not agree more, kids should be allowed to be kids, they have the rest of their lives to be responsible, work, etc. But the competition is steep out there, parents against parents on which kid is smarter, can get into whatever school they want, etc. We parents needs to close our ears to this chatter, do what’s best for the kids, not our egos.

    Well written, thanks!

    Lisa Vitale

  8. Irene Turner says:

    I’ve never been a mother, but am a grand mother to the most gorgeous child in the world through my step son. While I agree that children should be children and not forced to go beyond their years, I do believe each child is different. My grandchild is 15 months old and LOVES to be read to. She picks her favorite books out when we play to be read to…most of them are about farm animals and she enjoys making their sounds. She’s bright, and I’d rather have her with a book then in front of the TV…so I’ll continue to read to her.
    My childhood was all about books, so I’m thrilled!

    • Julie Labes says:

      Irene. The post is not about children being read to.. I am all for is about the incessant barrage of commercials telling us that our children can learn to read, be potty trained, talking, walking etc etc by a certain age. And about the way parents are led to believe that their child will “fall behind” unless they are doing all those things. I believe babies should learn naturally through sight, sound and human interaction not through constant “teaching”

  9. Great post, Julie. I think the “no child left behind” act really started all this. I agree that teachers should be held to certain standards, and that education needs reform and great expectations. However, I think that something went wrong somewhere in the process. Kids in my kids classes have been to Kumon to learn to read before Kinder starts.

    – Debbie

  10. Love this Julie, I completely agree that we are pushing our kids too hard in the wrong places. Every child needs to learn at their own pace and enjoy the thrill of just being. I think this myth that kids will be smarter by starting younger seriously needs dispelling. Love of reading comes enjoying stories read by people who love reading, not by boring stilted rote.

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress

  11. Amen. Those commercials are so lame. I don’t even believe the babies are really reading. And even if they are, who cares. They do not need to fill out job applications. And I’d prefer they not be able read the directions on a childproof bottle of aspirin or whatever. I think it’s all about keeping up with the Joneses’ kids. Your kid is not a status symbol, people. I am all about literacy and the word is even in my job title. But it seems we have extremes, people who don’t bother to read to their kids at all, make sure they do their homework, etc., all the way to parents who hover and fret and brag and probably drive their kids crazy trying to make little adults or prodigies out of them.

  12. Julie – what a wonderful piece! I have been living in the thick of this for the last 10 years, and it is not always easy to separate yourself from this pressure. The pressure for your kid to be the fastest, strongest, brightest all at age 5. I am continually trying to find a happy medium with my boys – to help them to learn and grow within appropriate expectations.

    My boys learned to read at their own pace and both enjoy reading very different types of fiction…as an avid reader myself, I just try to foster their love of reading.

    What I have always pushed with my boys is independence – I do find that parents are so stuck on making sure that their kids are performing in education, sports, dance, etc better than any other kids, that they forget to teach their kids basic independence skills. Little things like hanging up their coats, taking shoes off by door, throwing dirty clothes in the hamper, clearing their dish from the table – these are being passed over or being done for these kids so they can read, write and perform faster.

    I like to think that my boys will be able to survive in college and know where to find a pair of socks (in the dirty clothes hamper b/c I am sure that they will not do laundry) hahaha. thanks – Rachel

  13. Why do we do this to our children? When it comes to education I don’t know why people think faster is better. While we are ready to push our children to read before they talk, but we hesitate to give them feedback when they are older for fear their self confidence will be damaged. As a culture we accept learning strategies that plop our little ones in front of a screen and then worry about them being overweight.

    Thanks for a burst of common sense!

    Darcie Newton
    Introducing Alternative Assets to Smart Investors

  14. Yvonne Hall says:

    I always wondered if this even worked. I have seen posts on my mommy messages boards with people asking about the series or looking to buy it cheap — but not one person has said it worked, or even helped, infants, toddlers or children read.
    I agree we are pushing kids too hard these days. And if you live in a “good” school district here in the LA area (like Debbie’s kids do) there is even more pushing and it is even being done by the school system to keep up the testing scores!! Craziness.
    We did take my daughter to sign language classes when she was 7 months. My hope was to reduce her communication frustrations which lead to tantrums (ok my frustration and fear of tantrums). Well my daughter bucked the system anyway. She spoke the normal few words at the appropriate ages. I kept trying to sign to her: milk, all done, more, cheese, cracker, cereal, mommy — but nothing was signed back to me. Then when she was ready (4 months after sign language “play time” was over) she signed milk to me! I was over the moon. She signed the rest of the words within a month and we did reduce tantrums for a slight minute. But I learned a lesson from her — she’ll do it when she’s ready. And regardless of what we do, she WILL have tantrums because that is part of growing up. SO instead of pushing my kids now, I expose them to things. When they show interest we explore the topic more. Right now my 4 1/2 year old DD has moved beyond addition (still have no idea when/where/how she learned that one) to spelling. Not that she knows how to spell anything but she asks how to spell everything!!! And that’s great that she is interested because really isn’t THAT our hope? I want my children to WANT to learn, to be EXCITED to learn, not to be pushed and rebel against it.
    Thanks Julie!
    Yvonne Hall

  15. Bruce Barone says:

    I think WE should be reading to them!

    Just last Sunday on the evening news and in the NYTimes a few weeks ago was a story about sports training for kids.

    I say let kids be kids!!!

  16. Let’s face it our society/culture has lost a sense of the value of play. Adults too. We also don’t value the arts, music, dance or anything beyond the standard activities that will possibly lead to wealth. These subjects including play have been cut out of our school curriculum. There are non-profit organizations that work to bring kickball and four square and recess back to the schools! Crazy. Also these activities take time. Our culture is obsessed with being fast and first. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    • Julie A Labes says:

      Did you read my post on this very subject??….

  17. Thanks for this great post, Julie, for touching people’s “hot buttons”. What comments you’re getting! All these independent-thinking moms agreeing with you, citing their own experiences as support. Wish I could join the chorus, but I’ve never been a mom and never raised a child. But I have observed many instances where a child received tremendous pressure to excel at a skill someone else thought was worthwhile, and I think the results are mixed. Sooner or later the child was likely to push back, sometimes right then, and sometimes years later, after a childhood ranging from either misery or brilliant accomplishments. It’s the latter we hear about most often — olympian athletes, prodigy musicians, and on. In the meantime, what about the AVERAGE child receiving all this pressure? I don’t know, and maybe I’m just too naive, but I suspect the child who’s encouraged to develop curiosity and learn from experience would prosper better in the long run. I expect he’ll learn to read when he feels it’s useful and when he sees others enjoying reading and benefiting from it.

  18. Thanks to all of you you for your encouraging and kind comments. I am so happy to have found a place where I can offer my observations and my points of view and I am truly happy and a bit surprised to see that people actually agree with me. It sure beats the heck out of shouting at the TV set
    Thanks again

  19. Julie Labes says:

    Thanks to all of you you for your encouraging and kind comments. I am so happy to have found a place where I can offer my observations and my points of view and I am truly happy and a bit surprised to see that people actually agree with me. It sure beats the heck out of shouting at the TV set
    Thanks again

  20. Julie- Great post. I agree whole heartedly with your comments although I do believe there are some kids that just want to learn along those lines. My daughter was 3 months premature. So when all her fellow kids were learning to jump and skip, she was learning to talk and do the intellectual things because the physical things were difficult. I remember her standing in the doctors office, at age 1 1/2, pointing to letters on a poster and having great fun naming them all while all the adults just stood around with their mouths open. We didn’t push her at all but provided opportunities for her to do what she was interested in and capable of doing.

    For the past two years, I’ve sold reading programs as a seasonal job. I have to laugh at the parents who want me to lie and allow their 3 year old into the class because they are reading! I tell them to back off. Even if their child was reading (and they may be), their maturity as a 3 year old is a lot different than a 5 year old. But those are the parents you are talking aout. I often remind them that when their child is getting their first job, the won’t be asked at what age they learned to read!

    Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

  21. Great post Julie. I sent this post to my daughter who is expecting a baby in April because I know it would definitely interest her, especially the Baby Einstein info.

    With great intentions, our society has a tendency to push and push in our “quest for the best” for our children. I am wondering what kind of stress to perform this creates in our little ones.

    That being said, there are some children who do learn earlier than others – as parents we should allow them the space and opportunity to learn at their pace as long as we are not pushing them to do something beyond what they are capable of to satisfy our own agendas.

  22. Pingback: Truth #24 – We had everything to do with it! | Mother Truth

  23. Natalie says:

    Julie- I was searching for an image to put with my blog post today and I ran across your blog post. It mirrors my sentiments exactly and is very similar to what I posted today. I’m glad I am not the only one who thinks teaching a baby to read may be a little early. Check out my post:

  24. June Sockol says:

    Hi Julie ~ When I first saw these commercials, I just rolled my eyes. But then I wondered if a program like this could benefit autistic children. My was barely speaking til he was 3yrs old. He’s almost 9yrs now and he does talk more (not quite like an 8yr old). While he’s learning to read in the 3rd grade, he’s not at a 3rd grade reading level.

    Do babies need to be reading at 6 months old? No, I think parents should enjoy their babies. If the child shows an interest, they yes encourage it. There is plenty of time to teach reading. But, could it be a good resource for a special needs child?

  25. Angie Hill says:

    The photo of the boy reading the book is mine and that is my son. Please either give credit to me as the photographer and my son Braxton or take down the photo. Thank you.

    Angie Hill

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