When I was asked if my daughter would like to try a Leapfrog LeapReader (aimed at children aged 4-9) I jumped at the chance. Lily who is nearly 5, with a September birthday and who will only start school in September, is desperate to learn to read. She is asking me to spell words out every two minutes and is always sat at our dining room table practicing her letters and numbers. I am very proud of her as it isn’t something we have asked her to do, just something she wants to do.
Interestingly though, whilst she can write quite a lot of words, pre-school have pointed out that she spells most of her words in capitals. It took me ages to work out why, but she plays lots of games on the Ipad and the keyboard is obviously in capitals so she is using capitals all the time. At school they will need her to know her lowercase letters so we need to work on this.
The LeapReader™, on the other hand is designed for teaching children to read. You can download 100+ audio books and buy more books to use with it. We were sent Disney’s Tangled, and when the girls touch on the words in the book it asks questions to check their understanding of the story or it makes fun sound effects. The idea with the book and the LeapReader is to encourage children to take charge, and as they touch parts of the page the audio brings words, pictures or activities to life. When she is using it Lily can also see the word and how it is spelt (in lowercase letters).
Apparently once they have played with the LeapReader you can connect the LeapReader to your computer and see your child’s progress and get printable activities. I haven’t actually done this yet, and not sure I will.
When we received the box through the post, it looked to Lily like we had bought another tablet/IPad. The box, probably deliberately is packaged to look bigger than it is, and is tablet shaped. As a result when we opened it there was a little bit of disappointment from my 4 year old, as it wasn’t what she was expecting.
Putting that aside I then had to explain that we probably needed to charge it up to use it first. Something for parents to think about if buying this as a gift for a birthday or Christmas morning. Un-package it, charge it up, and then on the morning you will be ready to go. We ended up having to wait until the next evening to start using it.
That is all the negatives done with. As soon as Lily started playing with the LeapReader she loved it. She intuitively worked out how to use the ‘pen’ and worked out quickly what all the different colours meant in the books i.e. one meant you heard one word, another asked a question, and another simply read the page to you.
It is also easy for my twins to use who are 3 nearly 4. They picked it up, got the book and worked out themselves how to get it to tell them a story. I was putting some washing on the other day and when I came back into the room all 3 of them were sat on the floor ‘reading’ a book. I was very impressed and wish I’d taken a photo.
The LeapReader will definitely be coming with us on our holiday to Greece in three weeks. It will be perfect for using on the plane and definitely less risky to have close to a pool than an Ipad. At £32.50 RRP I think it is really good value. The books when we buy more (which we will) will add up admittedly but I still think it will be worth it. We were sent a copy of Tangled with the LeapReader but this would have cost another £11 at Amazon.
The next book we will be buying is this one of Cinderella – we love a Disney Princess in this house!
NB: We were sent a LeapReader for the purpose of this review but all thoughts and opinions are our own.