TAG Reader…one mom’s thoughts

As a teacher, when I first heard about the TAG reader, I have to say that I was not very open to the idea of kids using this device. It is an electronic “wand” that when used with special books, will read either the page or each word separately to the user. I thought that it would take away the opportunity for children to work through text on their own. I thought, what child would want to learn to do that on their own if given the choice to have a device read their books to them? I also thought it would be very limiting to children’s reading experiences, as you have to use it with the special TAG books, each sold separately.

For Christmas, my son got a TAG reader along with a stack of books to go with it. He was very excited to try it, so we set it up for him. After downloading the books that would fit (only 8 at a time), he set out listening to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He listened to the whole page, going through the whole story. Then he went back, and looked for letters and words that he knew, squealing with excitement when he was “right”. He played the interactive games that are “extras” on each page. He spent a good 20 minutes reading and re-reading that book, then moved on to another. He was so motivated, and he used the TAG system as a tool to check his own understanding, and to push himself to learn a few new words in that one session.

Now I still think that there are limitations to this tool. Most of the books are not exactly the “high quality” books that I would choose for my son. There are many books that feature popular Disney and Nickelodeon characters, and relatively few without. Most of the titles are fiction, although it seems that some tools for learning featuring nonfiction are being added to the offerings. But given these limitations, it still seems to be a highly motivating tool that helps foster early literacy skills and fluency as children use it.

Now, we are several weeks into living with the TAG reader. Given the early experiences with it, though, I will be on the lookout for more TAG books whenever I pass the clearance toy section at Target. It might be a toy you want to consider adding to your library.