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MAHONING VALLEY Even babies can read, California researcher says

Friday, June 28, 2002

Turning off the TV and talking to children is a good start to teaching them to read, the researcher said.
POLAND -- Dr. Robert C. Titzer understands parents may not believe their children can learn to read as early as 9 months old. He didn't believe it either when he started.
"I didn't think it would work when I started with my own daughter," he told parents and others gathered Thursday night at the Poland Library.
Titzer is a nationally known educator and researcher in the field of infant learning and the creator of the video series "Your Baby Can Read!" He has been featured on several national programs, including "Good Morning America," "ABC World News Now" and "CBS This Morning."
The method
The video series features Titzer's method of involving different senses when teaching an infant or toddler to read. Children will see a word, hear it spoken, be encouraged to say the word and either view a picture of the word or mimic some physical action.
The theory is that if children learn using more than one sense at a time, the learning will be more detailed.
"More than 90 percent of the brain is developed by the age of 5, but that is the age when we are first sending our children off to school to learn how to read," Titzer said. "If parents are not the first teacher, most of the brain development in a child will not be optimal."
Titzer said the teaching method came to him out of a sense of guilt after the birth of his first daughter, Aleka.
"I was the one who dropped her off with the baby sitter, and I always felt so bad doing that," he said. To minimize his guilt and to ensure Aleka thought of him during the day, Titzer said he created a video featuring him speaking and demonstrating words as well as holding up flashcards.
While at home one day, he popped in the video, but neglected to turn up the sound. When he noticed his then 9-month-old daughter holding her foot when she saw the flashcard with that word, he assumed she had memorized the order of words on the tape. He began mixing up the cards, and learned she could actually recognize the words.
By the age of 18 months, Aleka was able to read the words from the cards and say them back to Titzer.
He continued the practice with his second daughter, Keelin. Today, at the ages of 11 and 8, both girls are reading several levels above their age expectancy.
Titzer said any parent can accomplish similar goals with their children by following basic exercises. Pointing to words while reading, creating flashcards, acting out words, and encouraging children to do the same are just some of the techniques Titzer suggests.
Also, simply talking to children can help.
"I highly recommend turning off the TV and talking to your children as much as possible in simple, descriptive language," he said.
Titzer's video series is available at several local libraries and can be ordered through Barnes & amp; Noble bookstores. The series is also available through his Web sites: or
Titzer and his family live in San Diego, Calif. He completed his master of science from Penn State University and earned his Ph.D. in human performance from Indiana University.