Leapfrog Tag Reader – Review

Since Thomas has started school he’s become a real bookworm, always looking at books, constantly wanting to be read to. He’s even impressed me at the library by actually looking for books, rather the usual tale of me looking for books and him running around.

The only problem with this is that as yet he can’t read, he’s only 4 and is working hard on it in school, but typical Thomas, he has been getting dreadfully upset that he can’t read overnight, and is convinced that he’ll never be able to. The fact that he’s only been in school one term doesn’t console him.

Luckily for him, his mummy just happens to blog all about toys and also happens to have a very good relationship with the lovely people who are responsible for Leapfrog’s PR. When I told them of Thomas problem, they immediately agreed that the Tag reading system would be great for him and very kindly sent him a Tag and some books to get him well on his way.

The first thing you need to do when you first get the Tag out of the box (apart from adding batteries) is either install or boot up the Leapfrog Connect program. Once the program has recognised your Tag you need to go through the Audio Downloads catalogue and download the audio for the books that you have onto your Tag. This is really simple to do, and is very quick and hassle free. You can fit the audio for 10 books at a time onto your Tag, which is great as it means you don’t need to change cartridges or anything, you can just go from one book to another and the Tag will pick it up and know you’ve changed books.

Our experience with the Tag reader has been amazing, it’s amazing how much confidence this little gadget has given him. We received three books, Kung Fu Panda – Po’s Tasty Training, Disney Pixar Cars – Tractor Tipping and Ben 10 Alien Force – Wanted Kevin Levin. The Ben 10 book is aimed at readers 5-7, The other two are for 4-6 year olds.

With the books for younger readers the Tag reader has a few different modes, you can either let it read the whole story as it tells you when to turn the pages, read one page at a time, or press on each word individually to hear it spoken.¬†At the moment Thomas is just letting the Tag read the pages to him, but I can see that as he progresses he can easily start reading the words himself and then just press to hear the ones he’s having trouble with.

The Ben 10 book for older readers is comic book style, with the Tag reading out either the pages or the characters speech bubbles, these books will not read individual words. Although this book is obviously too old for Thomas in terms of him being able to read it himself, he does very much enjoy it and will hopefully pick up words as he goes through it. I have it practically memorised as he’s read it so much, so something has to sink in even if it is subconsciously.

I was so surprised that all the books also come with lots of games and puzzles inside, I was under the impression initially that there was only a story in the books, so this came as a very pleasant bonus. The games are really very good to boot, watching Thomas with his Kung Fu Panda book picking out the right starting sounds was amazing. He instantly picked it up, and was concentrating extra hard on his answers, but also enjoying himself and beaming throughout the process. His favourite game is from the Ben 10 Alien force book where there is an amazing double page panel featuring all of Ben’s alien forms and you have to help Ben choose which one to turn into by listening to clues and work out which alien would be best for the task at hand.

As well as story books, Leapfrog have recently brought out some puzzle books, a Learn to read range of 12 books available in 2 6 book packs and also an amazing interactive map which I had the pleasure of trying out at Toy Fair.

The Learn to Read books are especially good for kids learning to read because as well as being able to read the words individually, you can also click and point to hear the separate letters which make up the words too. With your Tag Reader you get a brochure book called “Lets Play Tag” which has useable pages from a variety of Tag books, giving you a good idea of what to expect from the books, and which ones to get next.

Personally I’ve been loving the World Map game, and challenging my husband as to who can find the most countries before the time runs out. The Learn to Read Books and the World Map are definitely on the top of my list of things to get next!

The Tag Reading System has been a big hit with both of the boys, and has been used every day in the home and out in the car on a day out. Although you may think that it would get repetitive using the same books over and over, the games really help add longevity. Also Thomas loves that as he uses it so much he’s starting to remember the words, it’s really helped with his reading confidence. It’ a big thumbs up all around from me and the boys.

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