LeapFrog, the company that has consistently introduced innovative products for the preschool and toddler set, has done it again. They’ve come up with a product that I didn’t even know I wanted, and made it so easy to use that a three-year-old can do setup and start playing with it right out of the box.
The product? LeapFrog’s new TAG Reading System. The system can be a comprehensive reading and learning system, but it can also be as simple as this: a pen-shaped tool that is sized just right for preschool hands and a set of books that pre-readers can now “read” during quiet time, dinner prep, or any time when they need a quiet moment but mom or dad might have their hands full.
The pen-shaped tool glides easily over the words on the printed page of each book, “reading” each word aloud as it is highlighted. This way, little ones get the sense that printed words correspond to spoken words and they begin to correlate letters with sounds. Just as they do when mom or dad reads to them. In fact, that’s what I really like about this system. It isn’t a “shortcut” to learning to read. It just reinforces what we already do when we read together and I point out each word in the story as I speak it aloud. The pen does the same thing.
(My only complaint about the system is this: when a child touches the word with the pen to hear it spoken aloud, the word is obscured by the pen itself. I would have argued for a design that allowed the child to see the word through a little window, for better visual-aural association.)
Another option is for the young child to touch an icon at the top of each page that triggers the pen’s recital of the entire page of text. This isn’t my favorite, as it doesn’t reinforce the word-sound association as well, but it is nice for kids as young as 3 to be able to do this part by themselves.
The neatest part about this system, though, is the potential for exploration of context clues. Each book that I’ve reviewed (Ozzie and Mack, and Go Diego Go: Underwater Mystery) is fully illustrated with engaging details … and each detail also makes sounds when highlighted with the pen. So, in the Diego book, the bubbles make glub-glub bubble sounds; the fish swish through the water, and Diego and Alecia speak their lines when highlighted.
Bonus pages at the back of each book teach rhyming and other pre-reading skills.
But mostly they’re just fun.
The reviewer received a pre-release Tag reading system and the Go Diego Go book gratis from LeapFrog.