16-month-old baby "reads" from cards


As many online have pointed out, he is recognizing shapes and symbols, rather than truly reading…

As if the difference is obvious.


Or they spend an inordinate amount of time on drilling for a parlor trick.

Given that he was able to recognize the word “circle” and the actual circular (well, cylindrical) toy, it seems like more than just drilling the kid on cards.

I taught my girl to read at 3 1/2. But she did most of the work. She also had a lot of books memorized, so sometimes it was hard to tell if she was reading or reciting.


Same here…here she is at about 2… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-RZm57hTec

He recognizes that they are both called the same, but that doesn’t mean that he can apply any of this outside of this specific task or that he is anywhere close to understanding the ideas behind it.

If he can’t, then I am not sure that it is really “opening up babys mind” much.

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Watch out everyone! We have a child developmental psychologist commenting in this thread!

We thought my little brother was only memorizing his books until he also started reading comics from the paper out loud.


I remember the first time I “read.” I had a book with pictures, beneath which was the word for that picture. My parents would read it to me. I essentially just memorized the look of each word. When I would see those words in other contexts, I could tell people what they said so they thought I could read, but it was entirely limited to the words I’d memorized in that book. I always felt like I was cheating and not really reading.

In retrospect though, I think that counts as reading.

After all, English spelling and pronunciation is all over the place. Cough and Through don’t rhyme, don’t involve the same sounds, and don’t even involve the sounds we’re taught go with the letter g. We memorize them, just like I did with that book so many years ago. I’ve just memorized a lot more since then and learned a bunch of phonetic rules (and exceptions) on top of that to help me deal with words I haven’t yet memorized.

And if you think about how you read, it’s not like you go syllable by syllable. You recognize the shape. Isn’t that essentially why it’s easy to read things like:

“I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg,” despite the fact that (except for I), none of those are real words?


Well, fuck you, too!

I am just a simple computational linguist who doesn’t see any value in that and suspects that there are better ways to spend time with your kid.


This is also basically the only option for learning to read Chinese (memorizing words), so if that’s literacy in Chinese I think it counts in English too.


Big deal! Throw those same cards on the floor and I could pick up the right ones, too!


My kids have been reading text from flashcards since they were a few weeks old. The trick is to just buy some blank index cards and write “THBBBBBTGGGTTT” on them.


I’m not sure how old I was when I started reading, but I know I was young enough that people told my parents, “oh, he’s not reading, he just memorized those words.” My parents insist they never taught me half the words that I supposedly read, though. My mom believes I was actually sounding the words out, though she knows that I didn’t always know what they meant, and I was too young to remember so I don’t know what to think…

On the flip side, I have a friend who babysits a kid in her neighborhood. He’s the only kid of his age in the neighborhood who isn’t talking yet. She asked his parents how much they talk to him and they said, “we don’t, he can’t talk yet so what would be the point?” When she explained how she got him talking, they insisted that their son was just mimicking her and didn’t understand what he was saying. Meanwhile, my friend’s own kid, who is the same age, is already speaking four languages (and actually speaking them – his mother will tell him to say “dziękuję” to me and he’ll turn to me and say “thank you” (unless I’ve been speaking French to him, in which case he’ll say “merci”)).


Don’t we ‘read’ words by recognising the general shape of them, rather than sounding each one out phonetically in our mind, for the purpose of reading speed?

Is that not why you can sometimes have a comprehension fail and have to go back and actually read/spell the word properly, rather than assuming what it is given the first and last letters, general shape and position and context. Which this kid seems to be getting very good training in.

Also, encouraging a learning environment etc. But no. Parlour trickery!
Concerning Concern trolling at some of its finickyest.

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You are always welcome to disagree with me, but I swear i am not trolling.

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Yelp! That should be spelled ‘Concern Trolling’.

I suspected as much, but I am not doing that either.

My point is that many of the things you ascribed to literacy (recognizing applications outside of the context in which it was learned, or understanding the ideas behind something) are fairly advanced concepts for a kid this young.

I do a lot of work promoting preliteracy in kids age 0-5: the main goal is to demonstrate the connections that words have to ideas and sounds. It includes things like simply identifying that words exist, or that we tend to read from left to right.

Developmentally speaking, it is impossible to teach kids reading (in the traditional sense) when they are this young; they schema just aren’t fully developed enough to support the kinds of abstraction that reading requires. This doesn’t mean that parents can’t take steps to lay the foundations for literacy by strengthening a child’s command of the cognitive strategies that are available to them (pattern and symbol recognition, word repetition, etc).

And it certainly isn’t a “parlor trick” any more than teaching a kid any other skill would be.

As others have pointed out Chinese definitely fits the bill here. Moreover, most adult readers “chunk” their words. When we see a word like “puppy”, we don’t read it phonetically, we just see a combination of shapes that stands for “puppy” in our head. That’s how we read quickly. Chinese speakers and this little kid have just skipped the phonetic bit (which is a misrepresentation: there are phonetic components to Chinese characters, but that’s neither here nor there).