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Brill Kids Little Reader Review by Rebecca Huff

Kreative Land Group Hong Kong

According to some experts, the first five years of life offer the highest potential for taking advantage of a child's ability to absorb information due to tens of thousands of synaptic connections per second in the brain. It is said that because of this these brain connections, young children are able to learn, understand, and speak our language so easily and quickly between the ages of 3 months and 5 years. Research shows that almost 90 percent of brain development occurs during the first five years of a baby's life. You could say a baby's brain thrives on stimulation! Some experts say that these youngsters can also learn the written word naturally and easily. A few even go on to claim that children exposed to math early on can be taught to do mathematical problems in their heads quicker than their parents can! Studies show that the earlier a child learns to read, the better he or she will perform during their school years! If this is true, then the system of starting formal teaching at age 5 completely misses the window of opportunity with the highest potential for learning!

Brill Kids Little Reader is a flash card program for use on a personal computer to accomplish the goal of reading. But don't worry--your child will not know they are learning. They'll just think they are having fun! Parents and teachers who want to help children learn read quickly, easily, and in a fun and well-organized way will find that Little Reader is a convenient way to use a limitless amount of flashcards. The Little Reader program can help parents and teachers make use of the right-brain learning capabilities of children throughout those important early years. You can use Little Reader to teach your child to read basic words, phrases, and even complete stories!

Little Reader is a whole word approach to learning to read; however, the creators believe that children need whole language as well as phonics to complete their education in reading. "Teaching whole words is never meant to replace a phonics-based approach to reading. . . . Whether or not a child learns some first words by sight, there will come a point when she needs to know the sounds made by the letters of the alphabet. In order to progress to the level of a competent reader (with a vocabulary of 50-75,000 words), the ability to sound out new words is a must." This controversial subject is explained further on their website

After purchasing Little Reader and downloading the program, you can start using sets of flashcards right away. Just click on the set you want to use and begin. This is a multi-sensory experience. As your child watches the word, sees the picture, and hears the word spoken, he or she begins associating words with pronunciation, pictures, video, and sound effects all at the same time. More content can also be downloaded from the download section of the Little Reader website for free, and the content is growing constantly!

Lessons can be edited and personalized to suit your own learning objectives. A parent can add family pictures to teach the young student to read family names. Another fun use of the editing options is to write a make-believe story with the child as the main character! The program has a tool called Easy Voice Recorder, which allows the parent or teacher to record pronunciations; hearing a familiar voice read the words is exciting and holds young children's interest longer. Easy Picture Editor Tools make it easy to change pictures so that the child has a better understanding of the word being learned, and they also allow for making notes on pictures.

By changing the font type and color, parents can give the child a vast array of learning experiences; this is where the difference between flashcards and multisensory mode comes into play. Parents can save these settings and use them in the future as a playlist that the child can watch anytime. Also important is that the words are large; this helps young children learn to read early, according to early reading experts.

If older children in the family are learning a foreign language (or you are a multilingual family), Little Reader supports foreign languages! You may either create your own or download foreign language word sets from the download section of the website. It was great to have the older children make flashcards and playlists for the toddler to learn his colors, numbers, and a few everyday objects in Spanish. Being able to see and hear the proper pronunciations was important since we do not speak fluently in foreign languages! Although he has not learned to read the Spanish words, he can understand what they mean when spoken.

Maybe you really like having paper flashcards. Then you will be excited to know that with Little Reader you can print any and all of your word sets! We used these large flashcard sets in a three-ring binder by sliding them down into page protectors. After the child has mastered one set of words, the cards can easily be slipped out and replaced. This portable set of flashcards can be carried around in the vehicle while on road trips, or the child can look at them anytime Mom or Dad wants to spend some time away from the computer helping their child learn to read.

Toddlers and even young babies truly enjoy watching the Little Reader flashcards. My three-year-old and almost one-year-old both enjoy sitting in my lap watching and hearing new sets of words. Brill Kids recommends sessions of about 10 minutes at least once daily, five days per week. To truly take advantage of this early reading potential, you should expose young children to the same sets of words a certain number of times in quick succession multiple times daily. I admit I lack the "stick-to-it-iveness" to be consistent with this routine. I believe it can be done, and if a parent or teacher has that level of devotion, a child could read early.

By sharing content (flashcard programs you create), you can earn loyalty points which can then be redeemed toward purchases at Brill Kids and their partners. Brill Kids offers a 14-day trial of Little Reader absolutely free; just sign up at and if you do purchase the program, they offer a 30-day Refund Guarantee.

The Brill Kids website has so much information! One section is all about Free Downloads, which includes Infant Stimulation Cards, flash card printouts, children's e-books, and activity sheets that can be printed and used at home. Many articles, links, and recommendations are available to complete your research on when to begin your child's reading program. No matter what age you choose to begin, or whether you choose the whole language approach or phonics, Little Reader is an excellent program that will enrich your child's learning potential.

Product review by Rebecca Huff, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009