Teaching Kids To Read

Now, I know that the American Pediatrics Association (is that what it’s called?) says that kids under two shouldn’t watch TV (which makes sense; they need interaction, not to be plunked down in front of a TV). But eventually kids are gonna start watching their cartoons and whatnot, and I wondered, do you think that leaving the captions on would help kids learn to read? It would be this constant association of written and spoken words, and maybe it would help them become familiar with the idea that every spoken word has a written equivilent. But maybe they would just ignore it. What do you guys think?


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This is one of those common suggestions in parents magazines. I did it, when my kids were learning to read. Does it help? I dunno – it can’t hurt. It doesn’t replace beginning to read to your kids when they are old enough to prop up in your arms (I think we started at about six weeks . . . .)


Really? I never read parenting mags (being much to young to parent), this was just something that had occured to me.

Hmm, I’m not sure Cessandra. The words do fly by at a quick rate, and are often not completely accurate to what is said on the show. Plus I’ve gotten headaches before from reading them for too long, but that’s just me.

I would think it would be great for kids that are already beginning to read, and are mature enough to process the storytelling (1st grade-on). Younger than that, and I’m not so sure. Who knows–experiment, and let us know how it goes!

Does this mean I could tell my students to watch TV for homework?

Yeah! Experiment!

We can get some money together, and start three day care centers, making sure they are all located in the same city, and in a neighborhood where we’d get a decent demographic cross-section. At one, we have no TVs, and we read to them, at another, we leave the TV on all day, and at the third, we leave the TV on with captions. We administer standardized reading comprehension tests periodically, and see how they’re doing. Then we separate out the ones with violent tendencies, and administer a serum that will produce the perfect soldier, and show them subliminal training videos, and when they’re sixteen, we unleash them-

Huh? What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. We administer standardized tests…

You should see my thread on “Why doesn’t closed captioning work?”

Worth a try, Cessandra. At least it links the spoken and written word.

The all time best, never fail method?
Read to your kids.
Kids are sponges, they pattern and they absorb everything they see. Sometimes I think (can’t remember) that childhood must be one huge natural LSD trip, where everything is new and fascinating.

But curling up with a child and reading to them is example, love and fun. My dad was difficult, but I learned to read way before kindgergarten by sitting on his lap and watching his finger move across a newspaper while he read aloud… He was spending time with me, and somehow the letters and the sounds came together without my even knowing it.

Sorry, wandered off track again.

The closed captioning thing would be better than a lot of alternatives, but IMO no TV can substitute for seeing and hearing adults read. Obviously I’m wildly partisan on this, but showing a child the wonder, excitement and solace of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent–IMO–can give to a child. It’s a gift that lasts as long as life, and opens up the world, all of history and every world people have imagined.

(flees from her soapbox in confusion…)

Veb, don’t worry, when I have kids, I fully intend to read to them every chance I get. My mother read to me, and I developed a love for the language. I learned to read much faster and did much better in school than my brothers (who were not read to; my mom got tired of it, I guess).
I was just thinking, if they’re watching TV anyway. . .
Markxxx, I haven’t read your thread yet, but I’m sure I know what it’s about. I leave the captions on my TV on all the time, and I’ve noticed just how unreliable they are.


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PS, Mark, where is this thread of yours?

As for the No TV before the age of two. Yeah. that is realistic as a kick in the head. My philosphy is to sit down with your child and watch what they are watching. Leaving a child unattended for hours on end in front of the boob tube is senseless. Why bother having kids if you are going to ignore them.

As for the close captioning, that is a good idea. I hate reading it because it is so distracting from whatever is on the screen. But, that is me.

As for reading. It is the most important thing you can do for your child. I’ve read to my son since I was coherent from the thrill ride of childbirth and recovery and now all I have to say to him is " Book Time" and he rushs off in toddler glee upstairs and climbs upon the rocking chair to wait patiently for Mommy to catch up and read to him. I spend more on books for him than clothing and diapers a month. We average forty minutes to an hour a day of Book Time. I could probably do Cat In The Hat and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on Broadway if they paid someone to recite stuff like that.

They are sponges and they love repetition and that is how they learn by the comfort of the familiar. This is why they will flip the pages back to something previously and point at something. It’s like, " Hey, I remember this cat with the hat from THIS scene and here he is again. Oh Boy!" I’m trying to work in new books into the nightly mandatory 12-20 that I read, but Herr Little Fuhrer vetoes the new stuff in favor of CITH, TTLS and Go Dog Go.

Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help Mom with the dishes.-P.J. O’Rourke

Heh, I hear that. We had the “Book Chair.” Our special place to cuddle and read at the same time. And my kids well know that while Mom can usually manage a “No!” at the toy store, she’s a pushover at the book store.


My daughter knows this, too. She recognizes the outside of Border’s now, and knows she won’t be leaving empty-handed.

Shirley, if you need a co-star for your Broadway production of Go Dog Go, give me a call. :slight_smile:

Here’s an example of what reading to your kids can do for you, for them, and the family:
Got home from the hospital yesterday, with the new baby boy. After the dust settled, I settled into my chair in front of the computer, with the baby in his carrier on the floor right next to me. My 2 year old daughter went to the coffee table, picked up her current favorite book (an Elmo book called Surprise, Mommy!), sat down on the floor next to her little brother, and started “reading” to him. I did manage to get a picture of that one, thank goodness! :slight_smile:

Cristi! I didn’t know you had your baby!

Congratulations! Will you please deliver my “welcome-to-the-world-what-a-cute-baby” kisses to his precious little face?

On topic:
I let Bowen watch TV… PBS till “mommy’s show” comes on (Young & Restless, ok?). Lunchtime happens during “mommy’s show”, and naptime right after. We always read before nap and bedtime, and anytime he brings me a book throughout the day.

I hadn’t thought about turning on the captioning, and I don’t know how it would affect him, but it would annoy the crap out of me (the only time I turn on captioning is when I’ve tried and tried to figure out what someone is saying in a movie…)

Otherwise, we just write (his
name, “MOM”, “DAD”, “DOG”, etc) and he has alphabet magnets on the fridge. Of course, he generally slides them off and practices losing them, but we have them, so it’s a start, right?

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

Oh Cristi! That is the most adorable thing I have ever heard!! You should post that pic when you get it developed!