Can my three year old read? Kairo memorizes books

My three year old read a book to his brother today, but having a toddler that can read isn’t important. Toddlers don’t need to master recognizing words on a page. That sounds insane to me. (I clarify this statement in another post).

It is only important for early readers to expand their context of the world by allowing their vocabulary to evolve WITH TIME and EXPOSURE. That’s why I don’t worry about the fact that Kairo can memorize an entire book. I know that he doesn’t look at the words on the page. Instead, he focuses on the pictures and recalls what he heard just days before.


My wife has super cool friends. One bought Kairo “I Am Bear” for his second birthday. The story is about a mischevious bear that causes hilarious trouble for his frenemies. This book is boring if you read without sounds and giggles, but it truly comes to life when the reader gives it some personality.

Kairo fell in love with the book during his first read. After a year of hearing it, my three year old read it independently. I was shocked. I had no idea he could read the entire book.

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

We have two Little Blue Truck books. These are probably my favorites. If I could only take two books with me, I would grab the original and Giraffes Can’t Dance.

The original is about Little Blue meeting a rude Dump Truck. Little Blue helps the rude truck, despite how he is treated. When they both find trouble, Little Blue’s friends rush to his aid, proving the value of friendship and kindness.

“Giraffes Can’t Dance” is about a Giraffe that learns to dance when he finds music that he loves. The moral is confidence and inner harmony. (I LOVE).

Both of these board books are fun and upbeat. You can sing or read them, which is beautiful.

Other books you can sing in my library: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and I Like Myself (powerful black boy/girl book).

Should I teach him words?

Yes. I will eventually teach Kairo how to read the words, but I’m not in a rush. At this age, recognizing words isn’t as important as utilizing them. Kairo knows the definitions, so he uses these words to communicate. When he was two years old, he told me, “Daddy, go to the store and buy dough, so we can make a pizza.” Yes, there are fourteen words in that sentence. None repeat.

How was he able to communicate this thought at such a young age? My three year old read for 30 minutes per day. If he asked me to read a book five times back-to-back, I committed to three and threw the other two at mom.

Can your three year old read?

Yes, they can! But don’t let people tell you that they need to recognize words. Help your children learn to understand what is happening in a story, so their communication skills evolve.

Read with them every day, and if they reject the book, try another one. Get friends and family to read to them! And stop being so controlling…Let the babies hold the book for themselves. (Kalel is Mr. Independent. He doesn’t like when people do things for him, so you have to let him choose the book that he wants to read ten times, or you have to give him time to read on his own).

I don’t pressure my kids to read. I let it happen organically, but I make sure every book has sounds (wooshes and zooms; bangs and clacks; stomps and thuds!!!) even if they’re not in the sotry.

Make reading fun

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