Opinion Brief

Is 'Your Baby Can Read' a scam?

The advocacy group that debunked Baby Einstein now targets a company selling $200 kits that purport to teach infants to read

The video: A watchdog group is demanding that the feds silence advertisements for the "Your Baby Can Read" line of videos, flash cards, and books. The group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, calls the company's claims that their $200 kits can help infants as young as three-months-old learn to read misleading and harmful. (Watch a Today report on the flap below.) Ads for the program, developed by educator Robert Titzer in the late 1990s, say infanthood is the best time for a child to acquire reading skills so parents should "seize this small window of opportunity." But leading child development experts say the babies and toddlers in the commercials are just memorizing flash cards, not reading them, and generally dismiss "baby genius" products as pointless.
The reaction:
Face it, parents, says Madeline Holler at Babble. Your baby can't read — no baby can. So let's hope this advocacy group succeeds in banning these commercials the same way it "brought down Baby Einstein." "Memorizing is a great party trick," says Sasha Brown-Worsham at The Stir, but "it isn't actually reading." Parents ought to just let their kids discover books when they're ready. That's the way to "build a lifelong love of reading and learning in general." Watch the Today report:

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