Is It OK for Babies to Read?

Creator Stuart Miles,

Psychology Today, recently published an article entitled, Your Baby Shouldn’t Read by Marsha Lucas, Ph.D. The premise of the article is that parents who sit their children in front of a television screen hoping their children will learn to read by seeing words on the screen will be greatly disappointed, it may even cause lifelong problems. Then the article goes on to say that the parents who use this type of reading program are in some ways neglecting their children by expecting a DVD to do their jobs for them. Lastly, the article purposes that it is not even healthy for your baby to read early. Her article title in-sighted some strong emotions within me, some of the author’s points I agree with and some are not accurate.

Although Dr. Robert Titzer’s infant reading program Your Baby Can Read wasn’t exactly mentioned by name, it is understood that Dr. Lucas does not agree with his program at all. It is understand that her article is meant to negate the success that some have claimed for usingYour Baby Can Read. First, I agree with Dr. Marsha Lucas that children learn from parent engage, communication, and continually interaction, but Dr. Titzer does not encourage parents to use his DVDs as baby sisters. Instead, he tells parents to read to their children a variety of books, watch no TV, and make your home a practical learning environment throughout the day. He also encourages parents to go over  word cards and the books provided within the system.  As a parent with twin girls who started the program at 4 months. It was always an interactive learning process. My babies watched the DVDs and then I taught them new words through books, cards, games etc. The program will only work with both parent and child interaction, as instruct by Dr. Titzer. However, Dr. Lucas doesn’t mention or acknowledge the correct way the program is supposed to be used. I realize that only one of my two-year olds learned to read from YBCR and the other is learning to read more from my efforts outside of the system such as teaching phonics and actually practicing new words together. I consistently spell and sound out words when we encounter words in everyday life such as on signs, billboards, doors, posters, books etc. As a result of seeing how the YBCR system works and having two children that learn differently, I believe that the only way for YBCR to even work is if both parent and child work together and reiterate words from the DVDs, by labeling household items, exploring words together and setting a foundation for learning. The DVDs do help lay a word foundation for children at a very early age. I believe, learning is wired in a child from birth. They crave it, and even thirst after it just as much as they long for milk. By teaching your child and spending with him or her you help fulfill both needs.

For the parents who are not following YBCR’s instructions and working with their children outside of the DVDs, their children will probably not learn to read from the reading program. Dr. Titzer also mentions that children really should not watch TV at all (even stating that he didn’t want his own child propped in front of a tube, but developed these educational videos for her as a better practical alternative).  This caveat of  admonishing parents not to let their children watch other programing besides his DVDs is just as controversial as his reading system itself, but I am not here to defend or to debate his points. If parents just used his books, cards, and word games their children would learn new words and start a foundation for reading. The DVDs are reinforcers because most people would agree that “repetition depends the impression.” I also want parents to know that teaching your children early is not hindering parent child attachment if done correctly; instead, teaching is an expression of true love that goes beyond reading and curriculum. I spend time teaching my children all I can because I love them and enjoy spending time with them. I also want them to always seek knowledge, I want learning to be fun and something that we can enjoy together. You can teach while they are in the bathtub. You can start teaching phonics through songs while you are breast-feeding, not because you crave a genius IQ in your child, but because these are things your child doesn’t know and it is OK for him or her to learn them. Why wait for someone else to teach simple learning lessons that they could learn easily from a parent whom they love and trust?

Learning early does not make you emotionally disturbed; instead it feeds the innate appetite that helps you grow mentally, physically, and emotionally. According to Dr Lucas, ” Early reading doesn’t do much for your child’s success in school, and there’s evidence that it may even be detrimental.” This statement would be much more powerful if there were links and statistics to prove it.  Dr. J.Richard Gentry writes The Top 10 Reasons to Teach Your Baby or Toddler to Read, which I find more compelling. I learned to read well at 3 years old, which could possibly be considered early; however, Dr. Lucas doesn’t state an exact age for which age is early and which age is normal acceptable for learning to read. I know others who have learned to read at 1 and 2 years old. Early reading and learning is linked to early exposer to books and lessons from someone working directly with children and those who are picking up on their natural abilities. Most of the early readers I know are relatively “normal” citizens that enjoy learning, working hard, and are in tune socially and professionally.

Overall parents, enjoy your children, if they have a desire to read it is OK to teach them, there will be tons of other time to spend with them doing other things. By teaching them you are cultivating a bond and attachment that will do the following according to Dr. Lucas’ article:

  1. “The ability to sustain attention
  2. Better management of physical reactions to emotions – leading to improved immunity and fewer stress-related illnesses
  3. Less anxiety
  4. Better relationships with childhood peers, and healthier relationships as adults
  5. Fewer behavioral problems
  6. Increased capacity for empathy
  7. Greater ability to regulate mood (for example, calming down from excitement, or not getting caught up in frustration)
  8. Enhanced skills in communicating emotions in healthy ways
  9. Greater confidence and self-esteem (and it isn’t just based on performance and grades, but rather a sense of abiding and healthy self-worth)
  10. Better able to generate alternative solutions to interpersonal conflict
  11. Enhanced insight into themselves, and others
  12. Better modulation of fear, allowing for a willingness to explore and take on growthful challenges”


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