Little Reader BASIC from BrillKids

Product: Little Reader BASIC semester 1 & 2
Company: BrillKids
Price: 149$US for 1 semester (6 months), 199$US for 2 semesters (1 year); available as a download or on CD-ROM
Note: This product is only available for Windows XP, Vista and 7 users. It will not work with Mac or Linux operating systems.

I’ve had to make time to homeschool the baby.

“What’s that? Your baby can’t be more that 6 months old!”

You’re right. He is only 6 months old and my reaction was exactly like the one above when I received Little Reader Basic from BrillKids to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. This company claimed that I would be able to teach my baby (from about 3 months on) to learn to read. Well, I was skeptical. Then after thinking about it a while I figured I’d give it a go. I’d taught both my kids some sign language (Liam when he was older and still nonverbal and Morgaine right from birth with her using several signs by 7 or 8 months). If they could learn sign language I figured that letting the wee baby learn to read wouldn’t do any harm. In fact, after exploring the BrillBaby website (dedicated to teaching you the benefits of learning with your child from a very young age) I decided that perhaps it could actually be interesting for us both.

Little Reader Basic is a computer program geared toward children 3 months to 3 years of age and is designed to teach them to read over the course of a year long curriculum of two 5 minute lessons per day. It takes into consideration the scientific evidence that material that is flashed quickly in front of a child’s face stimulates the right side of the brain that remains strong until the age of six.  With a click of a button this program takes you through a quick succession of “flashcards” of simple words from a variety of categories displayed on your monitor. Each lesson also contains a variety of pictures, videos and animations that change from lesson to lesson keeping your child interested in the program as they are never quite sure what is going to happen next. Another feature of this program is that it is fully customizable so that you can record yourself saying the words and add your own pictures to the program. Baby can learn the word “hair” by seeing a picture of his own hair (and having you touch his hair) and learn the work “mom” by seeing a picture of you. Your child will also be exposed to different fonts, font colours, images and videos for each word so that he can develop for himself a full and comprehensive meaning of the word he is learning.

For more information be sure to check out this video that explains all that Little Reader can offer you!

Despite my reservations on screen time and young children, I did try to use this program regularly with my son (who was only 4 1/2 months old when I first received it). The first time I used it with him, he was much more interested in my hand on the mouse and on trying to grab the netbook (anything is fair teething material for a 4 1/2 month old) than what was happening on the screen. I was determined to keep trying though. The next lesson he though my bracelet was captivating and the third time he focused on the edge of the kitchen table. By the 5th or 6th lesson, however, he was beginning to focus on the screen with more regularity. At 6 months he certainly isn’t reading so it is hard to gauge how much he is actually absorbing when we are sitting in front of the computer but I take that since it has begun to hold his attention he is probably getting something out of it. I didn’t use it are regularly as I could have as it did not work on my Mac and we rarely pull out the itty bitty netbook but we plan to continue with the program over the coming months and see where it leads. Little Reader BASIC sells for 149$US for 6 months of lessons and 199$ for the whole year long curriculum covering over 3000 words in 180 categories! As I am not a strong believer in either “teaching” my baby or “screen time” for the very young, I personally would not be likely to buy this program for a very young baby. I do, however, know that there are many people out there that are interesting in giving their baby a “head start” and this program goes above and beyond anything I’ve personally seen myself. I also think that it would work well for children that a tad on the older side of the recommended age for the program. I could see a 3 year old getting quite a bit out of this program and it would have been a godsend if we’d received it when my son was 3 and wanted to learn to read (he learned easily but this would have been A LOT more FUN!) I may actually try it with my 5 year old who isn’t showing many signs of wanting to read. This program has to offer and I believe in the methods employed, it just arrived for us a little too early in my son’s young life.

In addition to Little Reader BASIC, BrillKids also sells a deluxe version that includes the physical product (CD-ROMs) as well as easy reader books, and flashcards with their own binder. They have also branched into teaching both math with Little Math and music with Little Musician (soon to be released). I encourage you to check out both BrillKids and BrillBaby for MUCH more information on these programs as well as a FREE 2 week trial.

**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

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