Your Baby Can Read!

I was wasting time online the other day when I came across a little article about teaching babies to read via movies.  What a great way to deal with the mommy-guilt over letting the kiddo watch too much TV, right?  (You know what I'm talking about.  Speaking of, check out Fawn Warner's post "One Small Change" for some great tips on dealing with this issue).  The article went something like this:

There is a small window of opportunity in which your baby can read naturally, without a struggle!! This occurs between the ages of birth and four years old, so take advantage of this miraculous opportunity and buy our video program, just $99.99 with flashcards!! If you buy this program in the next ten seconds, you will receive a surprise bonus gift!!

After reading such a peppy little anecdote (complete with excessive exclamation points!), you can imagine how any normal, first-time mom would immediately take off on a guilt trip: “OH MY GOD! My kid is already three! His perfect window of opportunity is almost over and now he’ll have to STRUGGLE to learn to read! I’ve ruined him!”

Like any self-respecting, low-income mother, I immediately "borrowed" the first video just to see what my child was missing. Of course I want him to be smart and read at three years old! I myself didn’t read until I was six and imagine all the books I could’ve read by now if I’d had that extra three years!

The Starter Video basically included a series of words which were featured on the screen while an omniscient off-screen voice pronounced said word several times. This was followed by a short clip of a child acting out the word. EYES. Child blinks eyes. NOSE. Child touches nose. ARMS UP! Child raises arms. PLEASE! Child says please and is handed a cookie. THANK YOU! Child says thank you and is handed another cookie. GORILLA!

Wait, what? Gorilla? Why, naturally this is included in the first thirty words my child should know. “Please, mama? Thank you. GORILLA!” And act like a gorilla. As a result, when Isaac watches this video I am tempted to channel Mrs. X from The Nanny Diaries and say, “Quit waving your arms around like that! You look weird!”

As it happens, Isaac thinks the Starter Video is boring. Rather than learning to read, he has learned to open the DVD player, take out disc, insert new disc, and press play. Which is fine by me, because apparently PBS Kids has caught on to the whole “reading at a young age phenomenon” and all of their featured shows are about reading, spelling, and word definitions – plus they’re free, or at least relatively cheap! And while it may be odd that the dog Martha (from Martha Speaks) ate vegetable soup and now talks, and Clifford (from Clifford the Big Red Dog) is five times the size of my house, and Word Girl (from Word Girl – my favorite) somehow manages to educate the bad guys while foiling their evil plans – at least Isaac is learning to read so he can quickly learn (from books) that none of these shows are realistic!


  1. Thanks for grabbing my button! Your blog is cute! I've ALREADY freaked myself out about not reading to my 7 month old. I've read that I should be doing this everyday... she just wants to chew on the books... so not so much. :D

  2. Yeah I haven't read much to my three year old. He just gets up and moves.

  3. Oh, and looky here: http://thepapermama.blogspot.com/2010/08/oh-hello-300th-follower.html

  4. Best post yet! *laughs* Perhaps 'gorilla' is a euphemism for something else -- though I shudder to think what. :P

  5. Thanks for buzzing my blog! They recently covered the Your Baby Can Read! products on the Today Show. In summary, it's a memorization trick that provides no benefit to future cognitive development (or reading level).

  6. What a weird program. My three year old son has one he loves, it is called Starfall at Starfall.com. I am such a big kid myself that I love playing and doing the activities with him. Of course I think the programmer is funny and creative as can be seen in his work. Please, give it a try. Most of it is free. To unlock other portions of it it cost $35.


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