Mellow Mummy: Leapfrog Tag Junior Reading System Review : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday 6 May 2012

Leapfrog Tag Junior Reading System Review

As someone who gets an enormous amount of pleasure out of reading a story to Lara, I was naturally a bit suspicious of an electronic book reader like the Tag Junior system by Leapfrog. However, the minute that Lara first tried her Tag Junior book pal, it brought an enormous smile to her face and you could see her imagination start to whirr and her eyes light up with eager anticipation.

The Tag Junior system is suitable for children from 2-4 years old (although some of the more simple books claim to be suitable for children of 1 upwards). You buy the reader (which comes with an example book) and then can buy the books separately. There is a vast array of books available, most of which feature favourite children's characters. We were sent a Tag Junior reader to review along with a Disney princess book and a Toy Story 3 book.

The familiar Leapfrog characters Scout and Violet are two new shapes for the Tag Junior book pal reading devices and I really think the chunky, smiley character makes a difference to your child's enjoyment of the device. When you connect the reader to your computer you can personalise it with your child's name so that when they switch it on, the little puppy greets them! The reader can store upto 5 books on it at a time – your child then places the reader onto different parts of the pages of the books to hear the reader speak the words back to them, or play music and speech relevant to the pictures on the page.

The book pal reader takes two AAA batteries and I was a little disappointed at how long the first set lasted before Scout started to tell us they would need replacing - just one week. This may of course be because of the fascination Lara took in those first few days with constantly switching him on and off again to hear him woof!

Of the Tag Junior Books we tried, my favourite was the Scout and Friends book which came with the reader because it had the best quality content, clearest voices and lots of content to explore on every page. I found the content of both of the other books to be a bit limited and Lara quickly exhausted the learning opportunities in them – Lara learned the answers to the puzzles (which she really enjoyed) in her Disney princess story book very quickly so that it quickly became a memory game rather than a puzzle. The Toy Story 3 book was more of a story book and despite the awful accents and voices, was good fun to read together with lots of tidbits to explore on each page.

As a parent, I find the technology behind the Tag Junior reading system fascinating. I'm loving the way that it has re-ignited Lara's passion for “reading” at this early age (something that can often be eclipsed by the magic of television). I think that the Tag Junior system is a good way of encouraging an interest in books and to start the process of exploring books and words as well as pictures. It is very rewarding to see Lara rush in to the house after nursery and settle down with a book and the reader; it is also great to see her explain the product and how to use it to anyone new who comes to visit.

I can follow Lara's learning progress through the Leapfrog Learning Path online, or on my own laptop by regularly connecting her Leapfrog book pal to my own computer. Lara's Learning Path shows me that she has already developed those building blocks she will need to start reading and may be ready to move up to the Leapfrog Tag reading system sooner than I had anticipated.

The Tag Junior reading system has helped Lara to search on the page of a book for the words, not just the pictures and to to pinpoint the parts of a page that are relevant to the story. I think it is a good starting point and leads well into the Leapfrog Tag system for older children.

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