Can You Teach Infants to Read?

Review of BrillKids Little Reader
Review by Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami, FL

I remember when Be The Best Nanny Newsletter posted an article about research that Educational DVDs like Baby Einstein DVDs are not educational for babies, and that children under age two should not have any screen time at all. I remember parents who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs, mistakenly believing the videos would make their babies smarter, were refunded their money.

That being said, I’ve been very skeptical of any program that claims to teach infants to read since then. But, I have been using BrillKids at my current job and really like the product. BrillKids is a company that has worked hard to develop a system for teaching reading skills very early. Their products are more expensive than what you find elsewhere but after seeing their first semester of English reading for myself, I understand why.

BrillKids is actually computer software, not a DVD. You have the option of buying just the software, or you can buy a deluxe reader kit that also contains flash cards, storybooks, and other helpful resources. The sheer volume of material you receive really does blow the competition out of the water. I have just been reviewing the software alone, and what really impresses me is that a semester has roughly six-months of lessons of five-days each week. Each lesson is different! I love that they switch up their presentation so that children are not simply memorizing.

Another thing I love about BrillKids early reader software is that the nanny or a parent needs to be involved. With this system, an adult is needed to click through the lesson, and you go at the speed you desire, so you can stop and have conversations about the words you are learning, you can manually use the arrows to point to the different letters in the words, and you can help make the experience much more fun. BrillKids allows nannies and parents to be part of the learning in a way that I just couldn’t with the other system.

BrillKids does offer the software download for $150 for a semester. Also, don’t miss the BrillKids offer of a free trial which offers nine-days of content to check out on your computer, and you can keep it for 14-days while you decide if you want to make the investment.


  1. I must admit I'm pretty skeptical. Maria, do you think I should suggest this to my mom boss for a 20 month old?

  2. It bothers me that all these types of programs are so expensive. I like the idea of reading with kids but why do we need to buy expensive products to do that? I just don't beleive it works. I've heard of babies identifying flash cards but once not practiced everyday they tend to forget.

  3. I try to not get caught up in making a conscious effort of trying to get babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to read. (And I am an education type nanny.) I believe this puts to much pressure on them, and in the wrong hands parents could have too high of expectations. They might forget to read all the other wonderful books that are out there for free with a library card. Children will read if they really want to, or teach themselves too, I have seen preschoolers do that. But I look at some really bright kids that I have known through out my life, they didn't learn to read until in Kindergarten. They still graduated with top honors.

  4. Each child is an individual and they all learn differently. Part of the fun of working with children is encouraging each child I care for to love learning. Making learning fun and learning by play works best. I'm not real sure if reading programs and flash cards have much value though. It's worth a try if the parents can afford it, perahps.

  5. I'm blown away by what little sponges babies are! I like singing ABCs and constantly sounding out and writing letters. I swear the 18 month old was helping me say "M" words this week. We were singing things that start with "M" and she sang MOUTH without any cues. Amazing. Not sure you need expensive programs to acheive results. Plus, you can't force kids to learn. You can't make them "smart." They either are or aren't and you just have to push them to do they best they can.

  6. I think babies and toddlers learn from educational videos and tv. I know kids learn the alphabet from videos.

  7. I think eveything in balance.Putting a child under the age of 3 on a lesson plan- seems like it would be a bit early for most children.I did get a caught up in trying to teach my charges to read, and used the home-made flash cards- where you write in all caps in red on a large pc. of poster board. She really was never into it- even at 4 years old- she just wanted to play with the cards- and only regonized a few of the words- by sight- so IMO..that is really NOT reading.You need to learn the letters first- then the sounds- and then how to sound out a word to read it – no?I do know of a few nannies who have taught their charge who were just about 3 to read- but I think that is very few and far between-as most kids are not developly ready until they are almost 5- at least from the countless children I have seen first hand.

  8. I've heard babies do learn to recognize the words, but they don't learn how to read as such, they don't learn to combine sounds to make different words, they just memorize a word. I think in the long run it won't help them read for real. What happens when they want to learn another language, will you have to make 30,000 cards with new french words? I haven't tried it myself, but I was curious, so I googled it and this is the opinion of teachers.

  9. Reading no. Reading is comprehension, no way babies can read. Letter recognition perhaps.

  10. Great point Eva! Never thought of that and I agree!

  11. I thought everyone does flash cards and tries to teach kids letters and words well before 2 years old. I don't think it's crazy. My mother says my brother and I knew our alphabet before we were 2 years old. Kids can't learn it if they aren't offered the opportunity to learn it.

  12. Michelle, I think that's a perfect age for this program. I don't think you should "knock it" until you try it. I agree with Diane that they can't learn it if they aren't given an opportunity to learn it.Thanks for reading my comments!Maria Lopez

  13. You must teach kids language in their first four years. Don't confuse learning language with reading skills. In my personal experience, the best way to teach children to read is to teach them to *want* to read. My earliest memories are of my older sister reading to me, books she like (some teenage detective stories). I cannot ever remember not loving books, not wanting to read. In the 6th grade, I was told by the school I was reading on a college junior level.

  14. The bottom line is that we have another product being marketed to the public with amazing claims and no rigorous scientific evidence to back them up. This product also falls into the broader category of gimicky products claiming to make children smarter or more successful academically.Anxious parents wanting to give their kids every advantage is a great marketing demographic, in that they are easily exploited. But like all gimicky schemes promising easy answers to complex or difficult problems (weight loss, relationships, or academic success) in the end it is likely to be nothing but a costly distraction from more common sense approaches – like just spending quality time with your kids and giving them a rich and save environment. What such products often really provide is a false sense of control.

  15. If the parents buy it and ask me to use it then I will.

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