The Tag Reading System includes a real book (with "normal" paper pages) and a wireless, battery-operated pen. Kids pass the pen over the words to hear the story, or they can click on a picture for a sound effect. Icons allow the whole page to be read aloud in one go, or kids can play a game like, "Find something red on the page. Great job!"
Tag Reading System Is New and Improved
LeapFrog is a California-based company known for its educational, electronic toys and I am a fan of several of their high-quality, comprehensive systems. My 4-year-old son still plays with the Little Leaps set-top system he got for his first birthday, and he loves his Leapster. But his new favorite is the Leapfrog Tag Reading System.
The Tag Reading System uses proprietary technology that embeds, in a tiny dot pattern on the books' printed pages, about 150 sounds in each book. Each picture plays music and sound effects that vary each time the child clicks.
While the Tag Reading System is not new, a new and improved version is now available. It eliminates my biggest complaint about the system: its limited capacity for content. The original system only stored five books at a time and the new system has doubled down (to 32MB) and supports up to 10 books.
Leapfrog also recently introduced Tag Junior, a nearly identical system for younger children. It features board books and a larger, easy-to-manipulate reader. Its capacity is still five books, though. I hope future generations can improve on that limitation, but the little guys won’t mind as much as an older child would.
Out of the box, the Tag Reading System can read the one book that comes with it, but any additional book purchases must be installed on the pen. That’s a simple process that requires hooking the pen up with an included USB cable and visiting Leapfrog’s download center. Just click the books you want to install and they’re moved to your child’s Tag library. The cost of the software is included in the additional books’ price, roughly $15 apiece.
If the audio is not downloaded, the book will not work, so I install them for my son in advance, sometimes months before I give him a new book. I never know when I’ll need an activity to entertain him while I’m in the dentist’s chair!
Some of our favorite books like Giraffes Can’t Dance, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Olivia share the shelves with many popular licensed characters. Cars, Disney Princesses and Spongebob Squarepants, Ni Hao Kai Lan and Star Wars are among the licensed books in the collection. They also have Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, The Little Engine That Could and other classics.
Interesting new innovations include animal flash cards, which we saved for a long flight. They're all attached so they don't fall on the floor, and both sides of each card give detailed information about the animals. The headphone jack on the Tag Reader came in handy on the plane, though the headphones are not included with the system.
The Bottom Line
Some purists will jump at the chance to berate me for recommending electronic books, and both my parents are teachers, so I get it! I feel strongly that our daily reading time is sacred and it involves only old-school, “analog” books. What’s interesting, though, is that my son, who cannot read, chooses to spend his quiet playtime with a book and his Tag Reading System. He recites the pages as if they are songs and he is learning while he plays.
The Tag Reading System is a well-made toy that offers hundreds of hours of play, a terrific lineup of favorite books, and a different experience every time. While it will never replace reading to children, it is a great way to increase the amount of time they spend enjoying books.
Tag Reader provides hours and hours of independent playtime that involves books and kids’ favorite characters. It has a headphone jack so parents don’t have to listen.
Audio must be downloaded and installed on the system before it can read new books.