Awhile back, LeapFrog sent us the LeapPad2 to review. I was really impressed with it then, and now that we’ve been using it for a few months, I’m even more impressed with it. (Woohoo!) And since my almost-3 year old Samuel only gets to play with it a few times a day for a certain amount of time, it’s still one of his favorite toys.
One thing I mentioned in my review is that the LeapPad2 has a lot of great educational games to offer for grade-school kids. For the younger child, we mostly watch educational videos, play simple games, and read ebooks. Which, trust me, is plenty for Samuel!
He’s a pre-reader, so I was excited when LeapFrog wanted to send us a couple of the “Learn to Read” Ultra eBooks to review. Ultra eBooks are different from regular eBooks in that they are supposed to grow with the reader.
Here are the things I really like about the Ultra eBooks. A * denotes items that I think are unique to the Ultra eBooks.
- You can touch around the pictures to hear sound bites or see more action.
- Mini-games are integrated throughout the books. The games are sometimes just for fun, but often they test vocabulary and sentence structure.
- The child has the option to read the book themselves, record themselves reading, or hear it read aloud.
- Samuel seems to enjoy them just as much as videos.
- * The books are written at 3 different reading levels. As the child masters more reading challenges, the reading level can automatically adjust with them. Or, they can choose a reading level.
- With a simple touch, any word on the screen will be read and sounded out.
- * As the words are read, the word being spoken is highlighted and also dances up.
- The stories, music, visuals, and games are all really fun.
- It’s a fairly independent activity. The child can work with the books all on their own.
Here are the only things I could find wrong with the books:
- They’re pricey. Ultra eBooks are around double or more than what a regular eBook costs. Spending $20 on a book, even one with all of the reading bells and whistles, feels like a stretch to me. So far, I have bought only regular ebooks because of the sticker shock of the Ultra eBooks. I can see why they cost that much, it’s just a bit hard for me to swallow. But I definitely have been looking at them and waiting for the right one – like a favorite story or character – because they are definitely an upgrade from a regular ebook. (Also, the app cards make great stocking stuffers and birthday gifts!)
- The ones I received are in the “Learn to Read” series. The subtitle is a bit of a stretch. While I do think Samuel could learn some sight words and have some great reading, vocabularly, and sentence structure practice (when he’s ready for that), I don’t think the books alone would teach him to read. I’m pretty sure that’s not what LeapFrog intended me to think, though. 🙂 I am one of those hands-on people, so I love watching what his teaching toys do and trying to expand on them and use them as tools. If that’s what you’re looking for, then an Ultra eBook is a fun addition to your reading toolbox.
I hope this helps if you’re considering buying an Ultra eBook for a LeapPad or Explorer. I definitely will buy another one in the future! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. I’d be happy to help!