Review of “How to Teach Your Baby to Read” by Glenn and Janet Doman

A while back, Moldbug wrote:

UR recommends the Glenn Doman method for early reading. The Domans are definitely not quite right in the head, but their method definitely works. It was also applied to me as a small child in Winnipeg, and you see the result.

So I thought I’d give the book a shot. The Domans are indeed a bit off. The book is unintentionally hilarious. They constantly refer to "the tiny child" which always made me chuckle.

Their basic argument is that young children (less than 6 years old and the younger the better) are very good at learning new languages and reading is basically just another language. It’s therefore really easy to teach them to read when they’re young and much more difficult when they’re old. Because of this line of argument, they’re basically able to avoid the whole language vs. phonics debate. They’re essentially saying whole language works great for young kids – you can’t teach phonics to a one-year old anyway.

All things considered, it’s not a bad book about babies in general – it ended up giving some pretty good insight into how babies experience the world. If you read it, take it with a small grain of salt.

I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll give it a shot with the little one.

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3 Responses to Review of “How to Teach Your Baby to Read” by Glenn and Janet Doman

  1. Simon says:

    The basic argument is completely false. Humans of all ages acquire languages the same way. Why this has been unknown for thousands of years still surprises me.

  2. Leonard says:

    I have not read the book, but my wife and I read extensively to our son, from the time he was a baby. He learned to read well before kindergarten. Our experience seems to duplicate what you say above. He reads whole-word as far as I can tell. Presented with a novel word he either misreads or mangles it. We tried teaching him phonics after we noticed he was reading, but it did not take. I’m sure he’ll get it soon enough via school.

    I expect, though, that the “Doman method” will work or not with a particular kid based on how smart the kid is, and perhaps also how patient and tractable. Moldbug’s kids, for example, are the children of a super-smart half-Jew autodidact and an apparently accomplished screenwriter/director/playwright. Think they’ll be smart, eh?

  3. Carter says:

    I was reading before age four. My family is really boring, so I had to do something.

    To put this is perspective, Patton learned to read when he was eleven.

    Carlyle didn’t speak until age three, when he asked, “What ails wee Jock?” What ailed wee Jock history does not record.

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