Do you ever find yourself amused (and amazed) by peoples' white trash antics?
Sure you do.
Southern Fried White Trash takes a humorous look at the unbelievable mindset of the national subculture (and Southern specialty) we affectionately refer to as "white trash."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Your baby can read? Seriously?

I saw something yesterday that made me do a double-take. It was a commercial for something called, "Your Baby Can Read." Apparently it's a combination of books and recordings and visual software that teaches your infant-to-toddler-age child to read. Now I'm all for reading to your child and teaching them everything you can. I believe that that helps a child appreciate the written word and hunger for learning. But a baby reading? I don't know.
I have two children. They are 18 and 21 years old, but I still vividly remember what they were like as babies. They were babies. Like most other kids, I could have easily put them in a bucket and just hosed them off occasionally for the first 12 months of life. They took food in; they gave some back. Yes, they developed skills and awareness and emotional expression during that critical first year, but I can pretty much guarantee you that they were not reading-ready. They are both smart, bright, delightful children, but no way were they going to read to me during that first year of life. I felt lucky not to have done anything that resulted in injury or death to them in that year; I sure wasn't going to muddy the waters by trying to teach them to read. As they got older, a day without either of them ingesting discarded cigarette butts or munching on dog food was a good day.
Part of this commercial (an infomercial, really) spotlighted a mother holding her slobbering little prodigy in her lap, regurgitating words that had been hammered into her little head by a robotic male voice. Mom just cooed and giggled in delight as her little "reader" uttered barely legible words in response to flash cards. What Mom failed to realize is that she could have taught the little girl completely inaccurate words to correspond with each card. "CAT = HULA HOOP" or "TRUCK = SWORD."
THE CHILD DOES NOT POSSESS THE REASONING SKILLS TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE. And that, my friends, is the difference between reading and mimicking. True reading requires the ability to both decode a word AND process the meaning simultaneously. Later on, it also requires the ability to comprehend and retain those words, but maybe that's the next phenomenon to hit the market – "Your Child Can Retain and Comprehend."
In our society, we are so rushed to push our kids past all the others, to somehow give them an edge over all the other kids with whom they'll compete throughout their lifetimes. To give the mastermind(s) behind "Your Baby Can Read" credit, they were smart enough to capitalize on this fact. Still, I'm holding out for something really spectacular to come along, like "Your Baby Can Drive" or "Your Baby Can Prepare Your Taxes." When I see either of those, I'm all in.
Need a white trash connection on this topic? Just don't bother to teach your child to read. Don't ever read to him. Don't keep age-appropriate books in the home. Don't ever let him see YOU read, and do your best to make fun of kids who CAN read. Be sure to set the example the school is optional, not mandatory. You'll have a little uneducated criminal on your hands in no time.


  1. I've read what an expert had to say about this subject. He (whomever he was!) said that yes, the children do learn to read (sometimes), or that yes, they will be reading earlier than their peers - BUT - that all it means is that parents can help their child reach the child's full potential for learning earlier. It doesn't mean that their potential will be higher than other kids when it's all said and done - just that they will reach their POTENTIAL earlier. It all comes out in the wash. I'd rather my kids be kids while they are kids.

  2. I agree with your remark about just letting a kid be a kid. They begin jumping through hoops early enough; why rush it?


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