As much as I am a stickler for old-fashioned toys, I begrudgingly realize that this is not the world in which my daughter will grow up. She needs some technology experience in her routine or else she will be at a disadvantage when it comes to beginning school.
Now there are so many different options available for high-tech children's toys, that it can be confusing what to select for your child. In my opinion though, the electronic toy must be able to interact with my child on several levels and help them to learn valuable skills, such as reading and speaking well.
VTech has a brand new electronic toy on the market this summer called the V.Reader. It is supposed to mimic the Kindle, Nook or eReader somewhat. VTech definitely caught my attention with this idea. A digital book that can interact with my child and help them learn to read, spell and speak? Okay VTech, let's see what you've got!
The VTech V.Reader is essentially a kid-sized version of an adult eReader, except much more fun! It has a clear protective cover, which shields all of the buttons except two, and the screen. The V.Reader also contains a full QWERTY keyboard with numbers, as well as several other special function buttons. You can also control the brightness of the screen as well as the volume with the buttons located to the right of the screen.
The V.Reader is extremely easy to operate, which is a plus since it is intended for children ages 3-7. Once I turned it on, even my 20-month old daughter was operating it with ease on her own. Now, of course, she didn't really know what she was doing and was merely pushing a bunch of buttons, but she seemed to be having a blast anyway.
The V.Reader comes with one cartridge or book entitled, "What's That Noise?". This story is told to the child on a full-color touch screen. A soothing female voice reads the story to your child while the words that she is saying are highlighted as she says them, kind of karaoke style. The neat thing is that you can actually interact with the story as it is being read. If you want to push any of the items or characters on the story page, they usually do something such as bark, honk, speed off, etc.
You can also interact with the story on an educational level as well. For instance, when the words of the story appear on the screen, you will find that there are always a few words which are highlighted a different color. If the child presses on any of the highlighted words, they will immediately see a picture of that word as well as a detailed definition of the word which is also read aloud to them. VERY COOL!
There is music which plays constantly in the background while the story is being read. I found this highly distracting, but my daughter loved it! Thankfully though, this feature can be turned off so that all you hear is the storyteller's voice. The V.Reader book also has one game, Word Whacker, installed which helps to teach them spelling and the alphabet. There are three different levels of play for differing ages and skill levels too.
When reading the story with the V.Reader, you also have the option of replaying a page in case you missed something as well as bookmarking your place in the story. I was very surprised at how in-depth and how long the "What's That Noise?" story was! This was good in my opinion, since a lengthy story will hold your child's interest for much longer. The bookmark feature will most likely be used for the very young readers who have shorter attention spans and can't make it through an entire story at once.
Being only 20-months old, my daughter is a little too young yet for the V.Reader. You'd think that would have stopped her from enjoying it, but oh my gosh, how she loved it! I set a limit of 15 minutes of play for her and after the 15 minutes were up, she definitely did NOT want to give it back! I finally had to turn it off (thankfully she doesn't know where the power button is yet) and tell her that the dog in the story was tired and had to take a nap. She just kept pointing and pushing at the blank screen saying "Woof, Woof?" as if trying to wake him back up!
When Riley is a bit older and can better utilize the V.Reader, I'm glad to know that even parents can join in on the action by being able to see progress reports and award certificates for their child. One of the best features, I think, is that VTech will be making over 100 reading titles available to download directly to the V.Reader for FREE! This is wonderful and will guarantee that your child will find this toy enjoyable for years to come. It's also a great substitute for those hectic days when you can't seem to make it to the library to get your child a new book to read. This free download site is not up yet, but keep checking back on http://www.vtechkids.com for more information.
Keeping your children interested in reading is not always easy, especially during the summer months when the inevitable brain drain creeps in. I'm glad to know that VTech has created an electronic toy that is much more than flashing screens and distracting graphics. They've found a way to help your child read, speak and spell in a fun and interesting way. I am typically not a fan of these types of toys, but I must admit that VTech made a quality learning product with the V.Reader.
Disclosure: I received the V.Reader from VTech Electronics in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my own personal experiences with this item and is completely honest and objective.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!