Internet Stunned by Viral Video Showing 2-Year-Old Reading: 'Brilliant'

A TikTok video has gone viral as one mother shocked the internet by documenting her 2-year-old daughter appearing to know how to read.

In a clip posted over the weekend that has since generated over 6 million views, the 2-year-old is reading a short sentence off of a flashcard. The child is seen sounding out the words as she goes along reading aloud "My bag is open."

The account @lethu_nanas appears to be named after the young girl, Lethu, but is run by her mother whose name is Ntombikayise Bhengu. According to Healthychildren.org, most children learn to read by age 6 or 7, making 2-year-old Lethu's skill quite rare.

TikToker @lethu_nanas's account is filled with clips of baby Lethu reading words and sentences typically reserved for children a few years her senior. In one video, Lethu's mother explains how she has taught her daughter to read.

Her first step, Bhengu says, is instructing the baby the name of each letter. She then teaches her the sound of each letter. After having those two skills down, Bhengu uses the letters to form words.

Learning to read
A video has gone viral on TikTok after a mother shared how her two year old is learning to read. Here, a stock image shows flashcards used to teach children to read. cmspic/Getty Images

In the clip, posted on March 18, she then shows Lethu sounding out the word "bug."

"A tip for anyone teaching toddlers how to read: start with common letter sounds and then use short words first," Bhengu says in the video.

She says Lethu had been learning three-letter words but is now moving on to four-letter words.

Healthychildren.org, which was created through the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that while most children won't learn to read until ages 6 or 7 some children will learn at 4 or 5. Still, that is years older than Lethu.

The website explained that there are many ways to teach a child to read:

"One way emphasizes word recognition and teaches children to understand a whole word's meaning by how it is used. Learning which sounds the letters represent—phonics—is another way children learn to read. Phonics is used to help 'decode' or sound out words. Focusing on the connections between the spoken and written word is another technique. Most teachers use a combination of methods to teach children how to read."

Commenters below @lethu_nanas' videos were shocked at Lethu's abilities. One commenter, who identified themselves as a teacher, was particularly impressed.

"I'm a teacher and the skill of recognising [sic] the individual phonemes and then blending them is difficult to master, so this little one's talented," the commenter wrote under the viral video.

A phoneme in linguistics, according to Britannica, is "the smallest unit of speech distinguishing one word (or word element) from another, as the element p in 'tap,' which separates that word from 'tab,' 'tag,' and 'tan.'"

Other commenters agreed with the teacher that the child's skills were "incredible."

"Baby genius! This is so incredible," one user wrote.

Another said: "This child is brilliant."

Bhengu wrote to Newsweek that she began documenting her daughter's educational journey as a way to inspire parents to be "more involved in the learning process of their children."

She said she began teaching Lethu so early because she wanted her to learn at her own pace rather than be "rushed to learn things to fit into a syllabus when she starts school."

Even after Lethu starts preschool, Bhengu said she still plans on taking on a prominent role in her daughter's education.

"Learning doesn't take much time," she said. "We learn through play. We formally sit at a desk for just 5 minutes or less, so I do not think it would be much different now and when she starts school."

Updated 04/06/22, 9:42 a.m. EST: This story has been updated to include comment from Lethu's mother as well as her full name.