Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Sparkup Magical Book Reader


Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

Another children product I've discovered at the Toy Fair, I think that the Sparkup Magical Book Reader is a must buy for family with children who love to listen to stories, or even read themselves! Basically it records your or your child's voice for every page of ANY picture book you choose, and plays the recorded reading every time it "sees" that page again. It's great for when you are away, or even for the child to develop their expressions and reading skill.

Read further to find out more about the reader.


Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

The Sparkup Magical Book Reader (approx £49.99, to be confirmed, suitable for 3 years +), launching in the UK next week during the Children's Book Week, comes with the electronic reader, a USB cable, user guide and a demo book (which is a nice poem book itself).

The electronic reader has a green button in the middle that acts as a switch and action button, a camera at the top to "see" each page, speaker and mic on the left, reader's volume control at the top left of the camera, and a record button on the right of the green button.


Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

How it works:

Attach the electronic reader to the middle of a picture book's back cover, and start with the book closed before pressing the green button to switch the reader on. The electronic reader is very easy to use, and it will always remind you how to record/ read a book, so children don't have to worry about not knowing what to do.

To record, simply press the record button, hear the beep, read, press the green button, and flip to the next page to repeat the process. Then tell the reader that you have finished by closing the book. If the book has already been recorded, you don't even have to do all that. As soon as you switch the reader on, it will start reading.



Another great thing about the reader is that you can copy the recorded files to your computer for backup by connecting it to the computer using the USB cable provided. You can also rename the files, which is highly recommended to help you match the recording to the book.

The cable is a bit short for us as our PC is on the floor, but I can just simply place the reader on the PC instead of my desk, so it's not a big problem.


Recording Tips:
- Do read the user guide properly to optimise the recording. It's not hard to use the reader at all but if you want perfect reading, the user guide will help.
- When the record button is pressed, a beep will follow and the user guide will tell you to wait until it finished beeping before you record. The beep comes about half to 1 second after you pressed the button so you don't have to wait very long like a telephone recording machine. Just make sure it has finished beeping before you start.
- As the camera can't see the pages on the left, you should read both left and right pages together, then press the green button to stop the recording.
- Once finished, you have the option to listen to the page and re-record if necessary. Sometimes, however, the imperfection is what makes the reading special!


Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

Sparkup Magical Book Reader, electronic book reader, children electronic voice recorder

To help with the review, the lovely PR has also sent us Dinosaur Roar! to work with the Sparkup Magical Book Reader. It was first published in 1994 and it celebrates its 30 years anniversary this year. It's been a very popular book as it's easy to read with 24 pages of big, bold dinosaur pictures, while teaching preschoolers adjectives and comparatives. 


Here is a clip of Abby recording her reading for Dinosaur Roar!:




And here is what it's like when played:



(I flipped the pages a bit too quick)


As I've mentioned before, the reader is very easy to use, and it's perfect for parents who are sometimes away and couldn't read to their children at night. I think it will comfort younger children at bed time even though their parents are away. Then there is readings that can be done by other family members as well, like their favourite grannies! Get them to record a few picture books during their visits and the children can hear it whenever they want without needing to hold onto the phone or tablet just to hear them read.

I also think that it'll be nice if you record a lovely message on one of the pages for a to be gifted picture book to make it more special. We also have clips of readings where Clay was screaming in the background (he wanted to have a go), and we decided to keep it as it was quite a funny moment, especially when you heard the reader playing it!

The electronic reader also allow children listen to how they read, helping them improve their expressions and reading skill. Abby likes to jumble up her words as her mouth doesn't work as fast as her mind, but she didn't believe us when we told her to slow down. Now that she can listen to her own reading, she picked it up and understood why she needed to read with punctuality.

After having a play with the reader, Abby asked me: "What if I want to hear 2 versions of the book, one by daddy and one by you?" Clever mummy has the answer! *cough*

Simply move the first version of the clip to the PC and name it something like "Dinosaur Roar by Mummy". Then you can record the second version on the reader and rename it to something like "Dinosaur Roar by Daddy". The only thing is that the reader might not know which clip to play when it "sees" the book if you keep both clips in the reader. So let's keep it simple and only store one version on the reader and the other somewhere else. If your child demands the second version straight after the first, and you are happy to submit, it should only take a few minutes to swap the 2 versions through a good tablet or laptop.


Overall we are very pleased and impressed with the Sparkup Magical Book Reader, and we do think that it'll make a lovely gift!