The enigmatic winger put the home side in front with a smart finish on seven minutes.
Craig Gardner equalised from the penalty spot after Pavel Pogrebnyak had tripped John O'Shea.
But Kebe, pictured below, secured all three points for Brian McDermott's in-form men with an 85th-minute header from Ian Harte's free-kick.
The victory was no more than Reading deserved and they are now two points above the relegation zone after the weekend's results.
McDermott, whose side have taken 14 points from their last seven Premier League games, beamed: "It was a tough match so we're delighted to get all three points.
"We started well, we had large amounts of possession against a team with some quality players.
"We showed real spirit but real quality as well - just look at the ball in from Ian Harte for the winner. You know in that situation that Hartey will deliver. He's been doing it for 20 years.
"We left it late but kept going and as always 'team' is the operative word. We had to come back again from the disappointment of the penalty but we put a couple of strikers on and tried to win the game."
McDermott made two changes to the side which fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with European champions Chelsea last week.
Hope Akpan was handed his full Royals debut in place of Jem Karacan in midfield, while Garath McCleary got the nod ahead of Danny Guthrie.
McCleary and Akpan both impressed when they came on against the Blues, with Akpan setting up both goals.
But Adam Le Fondre, whose late brace rescued a draw on the night, remained on the substitute's bench.
McAnuff did well to earn a booking just 30 seconds after kick-off, but Royals' captain was heavily involved in his side's opening goal.
The winger, who had been pushed into a more central position to accommodate McCleary on the left, ghosted around Seb Larsson before pulling the ball back to Kebe.
The winger feigned to shoot with his first touch, wrongfooting O'Shea, before drilling the ball high into Simon Mignolet's net from 12 yards out.
Most of Reading's best work came down the left flank where McAnuff and McCleary caused Gardner a host of problems.
And it wasn't long before the Black Cats full back also went in Lee Mason's book for hauling down McCleary.
Reading had dominated the opening quarter, but Sunderland soon began to find their groove.
It took a sensational double save from Adam Federici to deny Alfred N'Diaye and then Larsson to keep Royals' noses in front.
But after weathering that pressure, they shot themselves in the foot 28 minutes in when Pogrebnyak needlessly lunged at O'Shea just inside the box as the former Manchester United defender was running away from goal and seemingly going nowhere.
Mason pointed to the spot and Gardner drilled the penalty past Federici for an equaliser Sunderland scarcely deserved.
Royals though, refused to feel sorry for themselves and went close to regaining the lead on 40 minutes when Harte's inswinging free-kick glanced off Pogrebnyak's head, only for Mignolet to palm the ball away at full stretch.
And a minute later Royals saw what looked a strong penalty shout turned down by Mason when McAnuff appeared to have been bundled over by David Vaughan a yard inside the area.
Royals retained the upper hand after the break, with Mignolet making a crucial save to keep out a Harte free kick.
McDermott went for broke and threw on 'supersub' Le Fondre with 25 minutes to go before handing Nick Blackman his debut from the bench in place of Pogrebnyak.
Royals kept plugging away and almost got their rewards when Adrian Mariappa's header crashed against the crossbar from Harte's corner.
It sparked a frantic finish, and Reading were hanging on when N'Diaye fired into the side netting, before Andy Johnson's header was blocked by Stephen Kelly.
And Sunderland's £5 million signing Danny Graham came off the bench and almost put his side ahead with his first touch.
But the excellent Federici was alert to tip the striker's bullet header over from Johnson's corner.
It proved to be a critical moment as Royals scored the winning goal just moments later when new signing Blackman won a free kick, Harte delivered the perfect cross and Kebe outmuscled Gardner to head home at the back post.
In truth , it was no more than Reading deserved on the balance of play and McDermott's men will be aiming to make it seven matches without defeat in all competitions when they travel to Stoke City this Saturday (3pm ko).
Reading: Federici - Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte - Kebe, Akpan, McCleary, Leigertwood, McAnuff (c), McCleary (Le Fondre 65) - Pogrebnyak (Blackman 72). Subs not used: Taylor, Shorey, Karacan, Morrison, Guthrie. Yellow cards: McAnuff 1.
Sunderland: Mignolet - N'Diaye, Larsson (Rose 46), Gardner, Colback, Vaughan (McClean 62, O'Shea, Bramble, Johnson, Fletcher, Sessegnon. Subs not used: Bardsley, Graham, Wickham, Mangane, Westwood. Yellow cards: Gardner 19, Bramble 33, Sessegnon 55.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
Attendance: 23,829 (Sunderland 2,171).