Two goals from the Ivorian and one from Maynor Figueroa gave the visitors a vital victory against their fellow strugglers, moving them out of the bottom three and above the Royals
The Latics took the lead late in the first half through Arouna Kone, who quickly doubled the advantage just before the interval. Maynor Figueroa made sure of the points early in the second period before Pavel Pogrebnyak was sent-off to end any lingering hopes of a Reading fightback.
Jimmy Kebe returned to the starting line-up for the hosts after missing the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, while Emmerson Boyce made his comeback after a long spell on the sidelines with injury for the visitors.
Wigan made a fast start to the game and almost took the lead in the opening five minutes, Franco Di Santo jostling his way past several Royals' players before firing a shot from the edge of the area which Adam Federici did well to parry.
Reading quickly responded and should have grasped the advantage themselves, Hope Akpan heading over from point-blank range after good work down the right from Jem Karacan.
The visitors dominated possession in the opening stages, but it was Brian McDermott's side that created the better chances, Jimmy Kebe hitting the side netting from a corner before Akpan saw another effort go well wide.
Opportunities continued to come for the hosts, Adrian Mariappa going close with a header from an Ian Harte free kick, but at the other end they were thankful to Federici, who produced another fine save from Wigan's Ivorian forward to keep matters level.
However, Kone was not to be denied for long. Just minutes later he did break the deadlock, deflecting Figueroa's header past a helpless Federici.
The 29-year-old doubled the Latics' advantage seconds before the break. Jean Beausejour's wonderful through ball found Kone's run before he cooly slotted home with a delicately lofted finish.
Roberto Martinez will have been delighted with his side's first-half display, and the situation improved further early in the second period with Figueroa powering an effort under the legs of Federici to extend Wigan's lead after neatly exchanging passes with Franco Di Santo.
A three-goal lead almost became four soon after, Di Santo stabbing wide of the near post from close range following an excellent low delivery from Boyce.
Even the introduction of top scorer Adam Le Fondre could help Reading's cause and their uphill task became almost impossible as Pogrebnyak was dismissed for an ill-judged tackle on Figureoa. Referee Phil Dowd showing no hesitation in handed the Russian a straight red card.
His dismissal killed any hopes of a miraculous revival from Reading, and it was Wigan who remained the dominant force, Di Santo going close with a fierce drive while Federici was repeatedly called upon, making saves from both Figueroa and Jordi Gomez from long range.
The Latics did eventually take their foot off the gas, and with Reading lacking both ideas and inspiration, they were able to cruise to a much=needed win.