Articles and Topics
Is a 16-month-old too young to read?
Q: Hi doctors. My husband and I are encouraging our 16-month-old, Sebastian, to read, and it is certainly working. But we noticed something last night: I was reading a book with only one expression per page; he wanted me to read it all over again. And after a while, he became sad or was feeling like we couldn’t understand him and suddenly started to cry. I stopped reading and hugged him, but he wanted me to keep on reading and I did. I passed the book to my husband, but Sebastian took the book and handed it to me. After a while we tried to distract him with another toy, but we still question ourselves about what happened (it was the book he likes the most). I tried to read another time and the same thing happened—he cried again and again.
A: Can it be that Sebastian is trying to tell you he’s too young to read? I don’t care what the ads say about teaching your baby to read and what they promise, there aren’t many 16-month-old children who truly “read.” Don’t get me wrong: I am convinced we can accelerate some aspects of learning to read (like learning the alphabet, recognizing certain short words or the child’s printed name), but that sort of word recognition is a long way from true reading. If you want to teach Sebastian to read, make sure you read to him frequently; look at pictures in books and catalogs and magazines with him and encourage him to point to certain pictures that you name; point to words on cereal boxes and soup cans; respond to him every time he tries to produce a word; name objects about the house for him; sing to him and encourage him to clap or try to sing along—and have fun while you do it. If you and your husband do these things during his early years, chances are very good that you will have a great reader in your family!