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Monday, March 21, 2011

Aesop’s Fables for Your Little Reader from BrillKids, a review

brillkids

These new little readers from BrillKids are specially designed for your little reader.  Each Little Reader Storybook contains a colorful adaptation of one of Aesop’s timeless Fables.

books-aesops-01-01

The set includes:

  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • The Fox and the Grapes
  • The Turtle & the Rabbit
  • The Fox & the Crow
  • The Lion and the Mouse

But you’re probably thinking, “Ok, but there are tons of storybooks based on Aesop.  You can even find them in the dollar bins sometimes.  What’s so special about these?”

True, I’ve probably got a whole shelf of them, myself.  But BrillKids has done a truly brilliant thing with these readers.

 

books-aesops-01-08books-aesops-01-09

Each book has a flap on the back cover that can be flipped down over the picture while reading the page.  If you have a child who tends to look at the picture and guess at what the words say, or who memorizes the story and uses the picture as a cue to recite the words (rather than actually reading them), these might work for you.  Once she reads the page, you can reveal the picture as a reward.  An added bonus:  you can use dry-erase markers to write on the flap (it’s glossy), and wipe it off easily.  Use it to practice copying letters or words.

Ok, you’re thinking, “I can just cover the picture with a piece of paper.”  True, but then you would miss the really big bonus…

…the Little Reader Storybooks are compatible with the Little Reader software.  When you purchase the books, you’ll receive a special code.  If you own a license, you’ll be able to download animated audiobook versions of the books for your Little Reader software.aesops screen 1

The book plays as a slideshow with audio, first the text page, then the accompanying picture.  The pictures have little touches of animation, so it’s not like an animated film, but not a static image, either. 

aesops screen 2

As you can see, the program displays the words divided by syllables (alternating red and blue syllables).  This is the default.  You can change it so all the syllables are one color, you can also change the colors used for the text or have it use a random color (being able to change the colors could be important for children with vision issues). 

Playback is customizable in other ways too: 

  • set it to play through automatically or click to advance the slides
  • choose whether the picture is captioned
  • select the audio file for each slide
    • 3 different readers to choose from:  a woman, a man, and a girl
  • add your own audio files (Little Reader gives you the option of recording a new file)
  • turn the pronunciation off (program then will not read the text slide)
  • add your own picture or video file
  • even change the text
  • and more

If you set the program to not advance automatically and to not pronounce the text slides, you can have your child read each text slide aloud, and then get a treat when you advance to the picture slide and she hears the program repeat what she just read.  There are lots of ways you can play around with this and make it work for you, it really is well thought out.

What do we think?

I’m not super crazy about the illustrations in these books…they aren’t dissimilar to the kinda Disney-esque things you see at the dollar store.  But, opinions on illustrations, ah, everyone has their own taste.  What you see above is representative of how the books are illustrated.

And these are not my personal favorite adaptations of Aesop, either.  They have kind of a stilted rhyme scheme that seems forced and a little off-kilter.  Here’s one example from The Lion and the Mouse:

Then a man from the zoo

comes looking around.

He sneaks up to the lion,

and ties it to the ground!

So, it’s not great literature.  Few early readers are.

What the kiddos (both Emma and Peter) really really love, though, is the audiobook portion in the Little Reader.  They would sit there and listen to these stories over and over again for hours if I let them.  What I like is that since the Little Reader software is fully customizable, I can tweak this to work exactly the way I want it to.  I think it’s really a great interactive tool.  And yeah, the wheels are turning in my little brain…we’re definitely going to keep using this.

The Aesop’s Fables Little Reader Storybook bundle (volume 1) is available from BrillKids at the special introductory price of $37.50 (reg. $50).

You can read opinions on this product from other homeschoolers on the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure:  As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product for free to review.  I received no compensation and am in no way obligated to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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