If you’ve heard of the CCFC’s complaint against Your Baby Can Read, then you will be interested to read a follow-up by Dr Richard Gentry on this subject. There seems to be a lot of experts claiming that babies aren’t developed enough to read and yet there are plenty of parents who successfully teach their babies to read. Here are some examples…
17 month old reading:
This is Emily who is reading at 17 months (her parents used Your Baby Can Read – which, according to the CCFC, doesn’t work – how ironic):
Felicity reading at 1 year:
For more examples just search for “baby reading” on Youtube.
I appreciate that the CCFC’s desire to create a “commercial-free childhood” and the aim to reduce the amount of TV children are exposed to, but to say that “Your Baby Can Read’s false and deceptive marketing may be putting babies at risk” is really over-the-top. If this is putting babies at risk, then what about the numerous other “childrens'” TV programs out there? I’d say there are a lot more questionable programs around.
Personally, I have seen nothing but benefits from teaching Gavin to read early. I know that the recommendation is not to test your children, but I recently did. I tested Gavin using the San Diego Quick reading assessment tool and he could read independently at Grade 3 level and instructionally at Grade 4. He got tired at that point and I didn’t get to test him with the Grade 5 words. He can read by himself and has often let me sleep in while he quietly reads his books. He loves books and gets more excited about going to a book store than he does the toy store.
There was the argument that it isn’t reading because these babies were recognising the words was a picture. If you showed them the words out of context (i.e. if it wasn’t on a flash card), they wouldn’t be able to read it. I tested this theory on Gavin a while back and found he could read words from menus (without pictures), newspapers, and on sign boards. There is also a youtube video of a 2 year old girl reading random words from the newspaper and various reading materials from around the house.
Then there is the argument that it isn’t reading if you can’t understand what it means. Honestly, I fail to understand this argument. I mean if you know that the word “cow” means that black and white animal that goes “moo”, how much more understanding do you really need before it is considered comprehension? When I listen in on Gavin’s creative scenarios with his train sets, I often hear him correctly use railway terms he has heard from the original Rev Awdry Railway Stories about Thomas the Tank Engine. If you’ve read the original stories by Rev Awdry, you’ll realise that the language is much more sophisticated than the language they use in some of the re-written Thomas books.
If a child can recognise that a brand logo has a specific meaning, then there’s really no difference to understanding what a word means. When Gavin was very young, he could recognise the StarBucks logo and he knew that it meant hot chocolate for him. Today, Gareth saw the Chili’s logo and he ran up to it in delight and started pointing to it. To assume that young children can’t understand what a bunch of letters strung together means is really condescending.
Babies can and do learn to read. Any “expert” that says it isn’t possible really needs to re-evaluate that stance because although there are no studies proving it can be done, there are plenty of parents who can and do teach their babies to read. Aside from teaching your children to read, there are many other things you can teach them. Larry Sanger has a terrific manifesto on early childhood education which succinctly covers this topic.