Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

Baby Can Read!

Elizabeth Barrett looks like any other 17-month-old babies, with one exception: she can read!

Her mother Katy, a speech pathologist who is married to Michael, another speech pathologist, said that most people don't believe their infant is a reader.

"The joke is that since we see kids with language problems, we think anybody with normal language skills is a genius. But as time goes on, it's harder to deny that she's exceptional," said Katy. [...]

Elizabeth talks like she's 1, but she reads like she's 7.

So what does her doctor think? Dr. Steve Stripling, Elizabeth's pediatrician, says at 14 months he saw her sight read the word avocado. "I was floored", he said. (with video) - via Arbroath

Wow. The video that accompanies the article is a whole lot better than the article itself because it shows the TV News reportrix and her cameraman having the kid read random words they choose from magazines (not words the parent picks). That was pretty impressive! I do wish that they took it one step further by seeing if she could describe (or find) a "banana" or draw/describe a "beetle". And what about abstract non-tangible words like "fright". That is, does she "merely" (really hard to say merely here... she is impressive) have remarkable reading skills or does she ALSO know what most of those words mean (a well-developed vocabulary)?

As an example -- I know the basic rules of pronounciation in German. So, you could hand me a paragraph written in German and I can read and pronounce it more or less correctly. There will probably be a bunch of words therein that I'll not know the meanings of, though. I'm wondering how big her working vocabilary is... Neat story in any event.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Sid: it says she talks like she's 1, but reads like she's 7, so I think she's "just" clever about making the right sounds for letters on sight rather than really understanding what she's reading.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I wonder what Noam Chomsky or Steven Pinker would make of this tape.

Obviously infant humans have tremendous unacknowledged skills as semioticians. Perhaps watching the signing show at such a very young age simply developed her strengths in interpretation of signs that much faster. At what age did she begin to view the program?

For Elizabeth, personally, the struggle will be for her to develop knowledge of what the words (both as spoken and written) are referring to. She obviously has mastered the phonics of the process called reading, which is understanding the sounds that the combinations of written vowels and consonants.

As a matter of human study, though, I wonder who will be setting up a child study lab that trains pre-toddlers to associate sounds and gestures with letters?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
My daughter was reading at this age, though she wasn't talking (The reading was evident when she would play the Between the Lions computer games where you had to pick the box matching the word that was spoken.) When she finally talked at about 2 she spoke in grammatically correct, complex sentences. She could read anything without stumbling over even polysyllabic words. She had and has an unbelievably vocabulary -- always used in context.

Everyone has his or her own talents. Early reading is just one. Maybe it'll all even out in the long run (the rabbit doesn't win the race, after all) -- and unless a good reader is motivated to put his or her brainpower to good use, it's nothing more than a parlor trick. (That's why we treated my daughter's skills as commonplace -- she went to preschool thinking reading and math were things every three year old could do.)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
My daughter could read at 18 months. Her mother was a librarian and she was constantly surrounded by books before she could walk. By the time she started school she could recite lengthy passages from Lord of the Rings from memory.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It was nice of the idiots at the local news station to turn this girl's story into a promo device for one of NBC's entertainment shows...

Very Classy.
I'm sure Edward R. Murrow would be proud.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
So what? I could read when I was this old. It's not that uncommon. But the child doesn't seem like she's actually intelligent, just like she has picked up reading quite early.
It's funny though, I was really precocious as a child but I wasn't given any mental stimulation so I'm pretty much average now... which is annoying. I always think about what I'd be like if I had recieved extra work, or skipped a year (I didn't even learn anything new at school until about year three/ third grade).
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Impressive of sorts - but way too early to tell if she'll continue to grow intellectually at that rate or not.

My oldest girl could barely pick her nose and walk at the same time when she was a year and a half. Now she's doing her post-doc studies at UT-IMCB.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It's funny, but understandable, that her parents are worried that something is wrong, but what happened is that they did everything right!

1. Both parents are speech pathologists.
2. They read to her a lot.
3. They taught her sign language.

There's history of teaching kids sign language when they are infants/toddlers, like before they learn how to talk or if they have hearing problems. So, it's no surprise that these techniques, applied to a healthy child, helped make her proficient at reading.

My boyfriend could read by 2 years of age. He's more than fine now; in fact, he's the smartest person I know!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
How funny... that reporter is the anchor for my local news station, and the doctor in the video is my little sister's pediatrician! I'd never seen this video before; it's really interesting.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 16 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"Baby Can Read!"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More