Monday, August 13, 2007

So You Think You Can Teach Your Baby To Read?

Do you want to teach your baby to read? It is, after all, not all that difficult if you've got Dr. Titzer - with his handy lesson plan and multi-media support - as your partner.

We tried Your Baby Can Read! Volume I some months ago, and discovered that, yes, it does seem to promote early reading ability. It was limited reading ability - WonderBaby was recognizing words - but still, much more than I'd expected for a child barely 14 months old. The question, however, was whether I wanted to teach my baby to read:

Sure, (I said) I might get WonderBaby to read the words in her books, rather than just fondle the pages and kiss the pictures, but to what end? Shouldn't she love her books for the simple joy of being able to embrace their bookiness, before rushing to decode the letters inside? Shouldn't the relationship begin as an erotic one, such that her intoxication with the book compels her to explore every inch of its mysteries, from form to image to word and beyond?And, how could I overlook the disconcerting irony that attends to teaching one's child to read with a DVD?

I still have these concerns. Reading is for loving, not for rote learning. That said, however, I've come to realize that singing and dancing along with a DVD program - in this case, Your Baby Can Read! Volume II - that pushes words isn't necessarily an exercise in rote learning.

WonderBaby loves this DVD. LOVES. As in loves it so much that she asks for it by name - baby read? Peez? - and shoves the Teletubbies (oh beloved Po!) aside in its favour. She shouts along as words are read - COW! CUP! HAT! - and then sings and dances when the songs come on. She seriously, seriously loses her shit for this DVD. How can something so much fun be rote?

She throws her little self right into the fun of shouting words and singing words and dancing to words and - yes - learning words (many of which she can now recognize). But what's most important about this, I think, is not the learning so much as it is the passion-building. In the process of having so much freaking fun, I'll venture, she's developing a passion for words. (Which is not necessarily a passion for reading, nor for books, but those, I think, are somewhat different matters.) Loving words - thinking that words are fun- is the first and most important step to loving reading and books and all the wonderful things that words make.

And although I can and do do everything that I can to encourage this love myself, it certainly doesn't hurt to have to some big guy in a doggy suit jumping around and pointing out the words to Old MacDonald Had A Farm as back-up.

Posted as part of the Parent Bloggers Network series on Your Baby Can Read. *You* can read more about YBCR at

1 comment:

motherbumper said...

With you on the man in the doggy suit, he works when mommy is too damn tired to dance.