Story Reader Video Plus brings together three popular play patterns for young children learning to read. As a stand-alone product, it's an audio book reader. When you plug it into a TV, it becomes an animated electronic book reader as well as a video gaming console housing five educational games.
The rectangular-shaped plastic Story Reader Video Plus unit measures 11 by 9 inches, and looks like an oversized book. It opens sideways to reveal a place to insert the spiral bound books that are specially made for the Reader (one book, "Alphabet Adventure" comes with the product). The accompanying software cartridge slips into a slot on the top of the unit, and the video game controller (a device with a large multi-directional button and one other orange button) can be stored inside the Reader.
This product is a successor to the award-winning Story Reader (first introduced in 2003), and operates in a similar manner. The unit "knows" what page it is opened to and it automatically starts reading that page. The reading is accompanied by music and sound effects. This new version cannot read books previously published for the original Story Reader; however, families can purchase four additional book/software titles featuring Dora the Explorer, Scooby Doo, Elmo of Sesame Street, and Thomas the Tank Engine for $13 each.
When Story Reader Video Plus is plugged into a television (using video input jacks), not only does the product read the book out loud, but that reading is accompanied by animations and highlighted phrases on the screen. While the visuals are a little grainy and not as vibrant as those found in the books, the animations are quite good and entertaining.
When plugged into the television, Story Reader Video Plus can also become a video gaming device by turning to the last page of the book. Using the attached controller, the player can explore five educational games that incorporate the characters from the story.
For example, at the end of "Alphabet Adventure," a book about how heroes Alphaboy and Lettergirl rescue the stolen alphabet from the villainous Miss Speller, the video games feature these two heroes and integrate learning the alphabet and reading. In Playground Pursuit, a side-scrolling game, kids control Alphaboy as he trails Miss Spider so as to collect the missing letters of the alphabet. While playing the game, kids learn about the letters of the alphabet and how to use the controller to navigate and jump to reach the letters. The other games introduce letter sounds and encourage beginning reading while slowly introducing basic gaming techniques including jumping on moving platforms.
Whether you use Story Reader Video Plus in the car as an audio book reader or plug it into the TV at grandma's to be a gaming console or animated book reader, its versatility makes it a steal at $35.
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