Harte committed a horrible error that allowed on-loan Manchester United midfielder Corry Evans to mark his Hull debut with a goal.
But when goalkeeper Brad Guzan brought down Shane Long in the penalty area in the 78th minute, Harte stepped up to claim redemption by slotting home the leveller from 12 yards.
New signing Mathieu Manset had to be content with a place on the Reading bench following his arrival from Hereford on Friday evening.
Skipper Matt Mills returned from injury for the Royals, while Jem Karacan passed a late fitness test and Simon Church replaced Noel Hunt in attack.
Hull made just one change from the side that beat Barnsley 2-0, with Liam Rosenior returning at right-back in place of Nolberto Solano.
Reading made the majority of the early running and had strong penalty claims waved away when Andy Dawson appeared to bring down Jimmy Kebe in the 18th minute.
The pressure continued and McAnuff skipped past a pair of challenges only for Guzan to narrow the angle and thwart his effort on goal.
The winger then tried his luck from distance, cutting in from the left flank before fizzing a low 25-yard effort past the post.
Long sprung the Hull offside trap in the 27th minute but Reading's top scorer struggled to get the ball under control and his eventual shot did little to trouble Guzan.
The on-loan Aston Villa stopper was extended more considerably a minute later when he got down to claw Long's glancing header from Harte's inswinging free-kick away as it headed for the bottom corner.
McAnuff had time to drill another 20-yard strike past the post, but Hull somehow managed to reach the interval with their goal intact.
Evans came on for Cameron Stewart at half-time and he made an immediate impact by giving Hull a scarcely deserved 51st-minute lead.
Harte had to shoulder the blame for the goal as he attempted to head Robert Koren's cross back to goalkeeper Adam Federici and succeeded only in leaving Evans with a simple finish.
Hull were beginning to look dangerous on the break and Matt Fryatt came close to doubling their advantage when he shot wide in the 65th minute.
Just as Reading's challenge appeared to be petering out, Harte was given the opportunity to atone for his earlier error.
McAnuff's pass sent Long through on goal and the Republic of Ireland international was brought down by Guzan.
This time referee James Linington did not hesitate in pointing to the spot and Harte emphatically slammed home his fifth goal of the season.