Talking puppy is a (slightly creepy) reading friend for toddlers

Reading aloud to babies and toddlers is critically important to their development. According to the Victorian government, reading aloud to young children gives them a head start in literacy and numeracy skills, as well as cognition in general. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your kids.

However sometimes you just can’t be there for storytime, or maybe instead of parking your kid in front of an iPad for an hour you'd prefer to get them a stuffed dog with the ghostly voice of a Victorian era child. It happens.

The LeapFrog Storytime Buddy comes with five books, and kids can select which one they want to read with Buddy by pressing the correct number on Buddy’s collar and following along, turning the page when Buddy asks.

Storytime Buddy’s voice might be off-putting for adults, but kids seem to love it.

The five books follow various animals to jobs and adventures they’re clearly not properly qualified for. For example, in the book Pepper On The Job, Pepper hears a fire alarm for the first time on the day she starts working as a fire fighter, implying that Pepper has not been through a proper training program.

However, while Pepper tours her new workplace, kids can look for the various shapes represented throughout the story, like the circle on the hose reel, or the oval on Pepper's ill-fitting, obviously-designed-for-humans gumboots. Buddy doesn’t mention the shapes, so these can be something discovered with parents or guardians during story time.

Same goes for Cooper Finds A Way (about opposites), Bella’s Mystery Morning (colours), Buddy to the Rescue (emotions) and Mona Follows A Clue (numbers). Buddy reads the story, but it’s left to the parents to dig into what these themes really mean.

Storytime Buddy can ‘read’ the five included books, or act as a nightlight.

What’s disappointing about Buddy is just how irritating its voice is. It would have been far better if parents, guardians or distant relatives could record their own voices reading the stories.

The stories themselves also leave a little something to be desired. They’re not going to be the next Goodnight Moon or Happy Hocky Family. They cover the bases for two-year-olds, but they lack the soul or character of a children’s classic.

They also don’t have the author listed or a title page, and some of my fondest childhood memories include my parents or aunts sitting me down and reading the title on the cover, followed by the title, author and illustrator from the title page. I’m not sure if that’s a thing in all families, but it’s something we still do with the next generation of the family to reinforce that these stories and pictures come from people’s imaginations and maybe these kids can come up with their own stories, too.

But what is wonderful about Buddy is that it gives kids the opportunity to have story time — without a screen — whenever they want, and it gives toddlers control over when and what they read, which is wonderful for independent kids and those with busy carers.

Buddy even asks reading comprehension questions, orchestrates happy learning sing-a-longs, and has both a bedtime mode and a nightlight mode. Bedtime mode has Buddy quietly read a bedtime story before playing ten minutes of soft lullabies, while nightlight mode plays gentle lullabies and lights up Buddy’s collar charm as a soothing nightlight.

And, while adults may be creeped out by Buddy’s voice, kids seem to find it completely normal, if not utterly charming.

Buddy might not come with any literary classics, but for $59.95 this is a useful, educational gift for 2–4 year olds.

Source: Read Full Article