Remember asking this question as a kid? Or hearing it from the backseat of your car now that you’re a parent? Wonderopolis.org is a wonderful new site that poses such questions (and answers) every day. The site (the brainchild of the National Center for Family Literacy) is geared for parents and kids to explore together. Educator and Today Show Correspondent Jenna Bush Hager is getting the word out about the site and their programs for the summer. Read my interview with Jenna at www.toyportfolio.com.
We really love the new TAG Reading System from Leapfrog. After years of complaining that none of the electronic educational companies leveraged the great wealth of children’s literature for their platforms, Leapfrog really delivered. The library of books includes many wonderful picturebooks by award winning authors and illustrators. So the other night when I saw their commercial (which is pretty cute)…I understood, but was saddened that the marketing choice was basically “hey, your kid can read Sponge Bob with the TAG.” True…but we hope you’ll also bring home a wider range of titles that include Chicka, Chicka Boom, Boom, I Spy, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type and The Little Engine that Could.
For as many years as I’ve been covering toy fair with my mother, we have had certain gripes that continue from year to year. One of them has finally been put to rest–thankfully. Each year we are shown cutting edge technology that is going to teach our kids how to read. You know the assortment of electronic books and other platforms that have plugged into tvs. Our gripe: the books were usually poor in quality. The selections usually include books written in-house by less than inspired authors or a wide selection of licensed characters. “Where are the good books?” “Real storybooks?” we would whine (we own up to it) …. I’m sure at this point many a toy maker would even know what was going to come out our mouths since it was pretty much the same exchange every year. Until now!
TAG is Leapfrog’s new interactive pen that reads, wait for it….wonderful new and classic storybooks. The Little Engine That Could, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Olivia…are all part of the library that you can buy for TAG. Here’s how it works, you buy the book ($13.99 per title) that has been formatted to work with the special TAG pen. (The pen is $49.99 and comes with one book). You then download the audio off the Internet from the Leapfrog site. The pen can hold the audio for five different books at a time. The pen can read the story “by the page” or by the word–depending on your child’s preference. There are also some interactive games that are designed to build reading comprehension skills. Plug the pen back into the computer and you can track how your child did on these exercises. The whole on-line track-how-your-kid-is-doing is part of the new Leapfrog site and works with many of their new and existing platforms. Somehow all of this tracking makes me really tense, but I suppose there will be parents who will be into the accountability factor.
Of course none of this replaces reading with your child–but this is certainly really cool. We can’t wait to test this one. The product will be available in June.
And again, hats off to Leapfrog for spending the money on quality books.