The Royals had not won at the Madejski Stadium since January, while an Easter mauling at Wigan had seen them slip down to ninth place in the Sky Bet Championship.
But Adam Le Fondre’s strike and an own goal by George Friend, all in the first quarter of an hour, lifted Nigel Adkins’ side back into the sixth and final play-off spot with two games remaining.
With their destiny now in their own hands, Adkins knows wins over struggling Doncaster and promoted Burnley will keep their hopes of bouncing straight back to the Premier League alive.
They went ahead after just nine minutes when Boro goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos flapped at Jordan Obita’s left-wing cross.
Garath McCleary, at the far post, stabbed the ball back across goal from where Le Fondre bundled it over the line from a yard out.
It was the striker’s 14th goal of the season, and his first since he hit back-to-back home hat-tricks in January.
Danny Graham blew a good chance to equalise for Boro when he raced onto Luke Williams’ long ball only to lash his shot wide.
And moments later, with just 14 minutes on the clock, Reading doubled their advantage with Obita the architect again.
This time the winger swung in a free-kick from the right which Boro defender Friend got his head to, only to inadvertently nod it beyond his own keeper.
Things could have got worse for shell-shocked Boro but Konstantopoulos saved well from Danny Williams and Sean Morrison headed narrowly over from a corner.
Boro, who up until the weekend harboured slim play-off ambitions themselves, tried to snatch a goal back before half-time but Emmanuel Ledesma was twice denied by Royals keeper Alex McCarthy from long range.
Injuries have hampered the Royals all season and they suffered yet more casualties when Hal Robson-Kanu departed with blood gushing from a mangled nose before Danny Guthrie, only just back after a spell in the treatment room, limped off again.
Nevertheless, they could have extended their advantage after the break with Le Fondre heading too close to Konstantopoulos and substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak nodding Jobi McAnuff’s cross just too high.
With 15 minutes left Le Fondre went even closer with a header which came crashing back off the crossbar before Pogrebnyak was denied a fine solo goal by a fingertip save from Konstantopoulos.