The new Tag Reader

Leapfrog has done it again!  Just in time for the 2009 holiday season, they’ve introduced two must-haves for the kid into reading, audio books, or just plain do-it-yourselfing.

  • The new Leapfrog Tag Reader has 32 MB of storage — twice as much as the old reader —  which allows it to hold up to ten full-length books, or even more of the delicious new phonics readers.  It still has all of the great features that it had before, including the ability to read a page at a time, a word at a time, and and to uncover new sound effects and dialogue hidden in the illustrations.

And now it comes in purple.  I mention that because that was a key selling point for my little ones, shopping for their cousin who is absolutely crazy about the color purple.  I didn’t find a pink one, but there is a special edition Disney Princess (Ariel) reader out there for those of you with little princesses.  [My boys are fine with just plain green.]

Tag books have always come in classic [Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Green Eggs and Ham, Olivia] and Disney [Spiderman, Dora, Diego, Kai-lan] type books, but now there are more than ever before.  30 full-length books, to be exact, all with special features in the illustrations that range from sound effects to dialogue that complement the understanding of the text.  Leapfrog has also introduced the new

  • Phonics readers, each of which introduce a new sound or two, with multiple-letter sounds highlighted so they are read as a unit.  The phonics books also allow the child to click on a special symbol and then touch a word to hear it spelled.  I didn’t think this would be a big deal for my just-five year old, but within minutes of unpacking the box, he was in his room, reading the book, and spelling out loud, “P-I-G, pig.” 

So yeah, they work.  I’m not saying they’re teaching him to read — that’s my job — but these books do serve an important purpose in the path toward learning to read.  The Tag Reader helps my child explore books in a way that goes beyond puzzling out the pictures at this almost-reading age, and helps him slow down and think about the parts of the pictures, the parts of words, and how the pictures complement the story told in the text.

They’re also fantastic for car rides.

The one caution that I would share with you about these activity books is that they are just that — activity books — and that they do not replace reading with your child, reading to your child, or teaching him a single thing.  But they’re a wonderful tv-replacement, or dvd-replacement on those long car rides across the country.  We’ve had ours for a year and a half, and the kids are still jazzed about them.

Edited to add:  Leapfrog’s Cyber Monday specials are now good until Thursday: Free shipping and up to 75% off books, readers, and gift packs.

Disclosure:  Leapfrog sent me a new Tag reader and two sets of phonics books for review.  I was not paid for this post or even asked to blog about it.  [I was so impressed with the new reader that I bought two for my little nieces, and books to go with them, on sale at Target.  Shhh.  Don’t tell my nieces before Christmas.]

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