The Malian was the star of the show as he opened the scoring after just seven minutes before, more importantly, heading the winner just minutes from time.
Sunderland were second best on the day, but created the better chances – although their equaliser on the half-hour mark was courtesy of a penalty which Craig Gardner fired home.
A late victory over West Brom last month and a brace from Adam Le Fondre in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea in midweek had seen the Royals make a great start to 2013 and, thanks to Kebe, they have now taken 14 points from a possible 21.
Brian McDermott’s men took the lead with the first meaningful attack of the game when Jobi McAnuff reached the byline before pulling the ball back for Kebe, who touched the ball past John O’Shea before firing past Simon Mignolet into the top corner.
Adam Federici was not tested in the Reading goal until the 24th minute when Alfred N’Diaye brushed off a couple of challenges before shooting low at the Australian, who could only push the ball into the path of the onrushing Sebastian Larsson but the home keeper was quickly back to his feet to keep out the follow-up.
Sunderland did not have to wait long before being gifted the chance to level which they readily accepted. O’Shea was chasing a clearance on the edge of the box as Pavel Pogrebnyak slid in and brought the former Manchester United man down.
The foul was missed by referee Lee Mason but not by his assistant Simon Beck, who received heavy criticism from Sir Alex Ferguson last month – which has landed the United boss in hot water with the Football Association – and Gardner thumped the resulting penalty past Federici.
Reading almost regained their lead five minutes before the break as Pogrebnyak climbed to head Ian Harte’s free-kick towards goal, only for Mignolet to claw the ball to safety.
Despite their side being on top in the game the Reading fans soon started to sing for Le Fondre to be introduced from the bench and McDermott obliged, replacing Garath McCleary with the in-form frontman and then Pogrebnyak with new signing Nick Blackman.
Reading almost went ahead when another set-piece from experienced full-back Harte saw Adrian Mariappa get in front of his man but his header came back off the crossbar thanks to a crucial touch from Mignolet.
Sunderland’s debutant Danny Graham was the next player brought on to try to find a winner – but it was N’Diaye who should have given the visitors the lead with just 10 minutes left on the clock, only to fire wildly wide after he had been played in by Adam Johnson down the right flank.
Newcastle fan Graham almost endeared himself to the Sunderland fans just minutes after coming on but his header was tipped over by Federici. The visitors were suddenly looking the most likely to score a dramatic winner but Reading have made it their trademark of late and they struck again with five minutes remaining.
Once again Sunderland’s defence could not deal with a Harte free-kick, as the former Republic of Ireland defender thrashed the ball to the back post where Kebe rose to head home and give Reading a massive win.