A Georgia Boy Started Reading At 6 Months Old. Now 12, He's In College Caleb Anderson is a sophomore at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Ga. He's taking calculus and macroeconomics and wants to be an aerospace engineer to help "people reach the stars."

A Georgia Boy Started Reading At 6 Months Old. Now 12, He's In College

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/925278767/925278768" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Caleb Anderson is from Marietta, Ga. He's 12. Like a lot of kids his age, he loves outer space.

CALEB ANDERSON: I'm fascinated that, you know, there's another world beyond ours, there's another place. There's a better place.

KING: Typical kid stuff, except Caleb is in college. He's studying calculus, U.S. history, humanities and macroeconomics at Chattahoochee Technical College. He wants to be an aerospace engineer.

CALEB ANDERSON: You have the heroes that, you know, go on the rockets and fly up to space. But the aerospace engineers, they have their life in their hands. And I really think it's interesting and amazing, you know, that they do that.


Caleb's mother, Claire Anderson, says it didn't take long to see that her son was ahead of the typical baby milestones. When he was just 3 weeks old, he started copying her motions. So she got certified in sign language so she could teach it to him.

CLAIRE ANDERSON: Because I thought that he wanted to communicate, but he didn't have a mean or way to do that. Then he started picking up sign language really fast. When he was about 6 months old, he started reading. And by 9 months old, he was already signing over 250 words.

KING: His mom says he was doing fractions when he was 2. He passed the first grade when he was 3. And he could've skipped middle school entirely.

CLAIRE ANDERSON: But we still decided to put Caleb into the seventh grade to build, you know, social skills and just think about the well-rounded child.

MARTIN: But those years were not easy for Caleb.

CALEB ANDERSON: They looked down on me because I was younger than them. And not only that, the curriculum, it was boring to me because, you know, I learn, like, really, really fast. And, you know, one day, I came to my mom. And she asked me, you know, are you happy here? And I said, no. I'm really bored. This isn't challenging me.

MARTIN: Now Caleb is in a dual program at the technical college. He's earning an associate degree while getting his high school credits, which gives him a chance to dream of NASA, SpaceX and flying cars.

CALEB ANDERSON: It's not my end goal, to go to college. It's my - my end goal is to become, you know, who I want to be. I want to be someone who helps people and, you know, reaches stars.

MARTIN: Caleb's dad, Kobi Anderson, says it's important to share his son's story, which is the story of a gifted, Black boy.

KOBI ANDERSON: As a teenager, I remember downplaying my intelligence. Being a young, Black male, there are these negative stereotypes that are reinforced quite frequently. And so the attention is an opportunity to bring another story to light, one that we hope will inspire others to foster the gifts that their kids have.

KING: Kobi Anderson, whose 12-year-old son Caleb is in college and would like to be an aerospace engineer.


Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.