A month ago, when I got an e-mail from a Lubbock mom who told me her 16-month-old baby could read, I didn’t really take it seriously – especially when she told me it was her first baby.Â But after a few weeks and a few more e-mails, I decided to meet her and see for myself. Elizabeth Barrett is now 17 months old. She looks and acts like most babies her age, butÂ her mom Katy says, “She can read sentences. She can read more words than we can count.”Â
So we watched as Elizabeth pulled out her favorite book, climbed in her favorite reading chair, and looked at pictures.
Katy, a speech pathologist who is married to Michael, another speech pathologist, told me that most people don’t believe their infant is a reader.
When we asked to see what Elizabeth could do, Katy wrote excited on a piece of paper and said, “Elizabeth, what does this say?”Â Elizabeth said “excited” andÂ waved her hand over her chest. Katy explained that Elizabeth not only read the word, but signed it as well.
Katy is convinced that sign language helped launch her daughter’s reading skills, partly by watching shows like “Signing Times” on public television.