Monday, December 22, 2008

New Poingo: A Review

Watching Eleanor learn to read is almost as thrilling for me as it is for her. As a parent, few feelings can compare to the pride the wells up when I see my child learn something new and experience a sense of accomplishment ("Look Mom, I can do it!").

Because we have a beginning reader at our house, I was offered the opportunity to try the New Poingo, an interactive book complete with stories, songs, and games.

Both my four-year-old and two-year-old were very interested in this techno toy (which comes at a nice price point -- $34.99). The starter set contains the Poingo pen which reads the stories aloud and two books featuring the characters from Disney-Pixar's Cars and Finding Nemo. The set was easy to use (even my two-year-old was able to turn it on and get the story started by himself).

Even though my kids are familiar with the plots of both of the movies that the books are based on, the language and dialogue in the book seemed boring and not age-appropriate. Frankly, the stories moved at a snail's pace and seemed too detailed for young kids. My kids did enjoy the chance to stop and play a game from time-to-time as the story progressed.

New Poingo is marketed as a toy to help kids ages 3-7 want to learn to read -- and I am not sure that I agree with that. The words were too complex for her for my four-year-old to sound out, plus the story is moving at a fast pace and it isn't really possible to slow it down and take a closer look at the words. It just doesn't strike me as a learn-to-read aid.

That being said, I do think that New Poingo has its place as an age-appropriate plaything for young children. I think that every parent finds that there are times during the day when kids need to be able to play independently for a short time (i.e. while Mom feeds the baby, checks email, or generally attends to other things). I would much rather have my kids play an educational game on the computer or sit with a book that reads itself to them rather than plop them down in front of some inane cartoon. Around our house, my kids have been happily playing with their New Poingo books during those "quiet times." If you are looking for a little bit of "quiet time" in your life, I recommend giving this product a try.

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