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Beginning Reader Books Set Review by Kim Kargbo

By Betty Ward Cain
Bedford Publications
2201 Heritage Place Dr. NW
Cleveland, TN 37312

The Beginning Reader Books Set is a CD-ROM with five books for preschoolers or early readers on it. Each book is a slide show with "pages" that turn when you click the arrows. This product is for the early learner set, but it is not designed to be used independently by the child. A parent would have to work with the child, not only to operate the CD but also to read the books. The title is a slight misnomer, as there are really only two books of the set that are written for early learners to read themselves. The rest are books that would be read to the child, but the child would interact by commenting, answering questions, or repeating what was read by the parent.

The book ideas are cute, but the technology is somewhat problematic. I had trouble getting my CD to work initially, as the label for the CD was not completely straight and caused it to not spin right in the CD-ROM drive. There were also a few grammatical and typographical errors within the books themselves. The pages are simple and colorfully illustrated. Each book has a couple of activity pages or games at the end that you can do with your child, related to the book content. The five books in this set are:

  • Get Up, Tom--an early reader book with very limited and repetitive vocabulary
  • Pat's Cat--another early reader with slightly more vocabulary
  • My Trip to the Funny Farm--a book about numbers and colors for reading aloud
  • You Can Count on Me--a counting book about animals to read aloud and have the child count with you
  • We Are Opposites You and Me--a book about opposites to read aloud

If you are looking for true phonics readers, these early readers do not fit the bill. The vocabulary words used in the books are not all phonetic words typically found in early phonics readers. While some moms may find this medium useful, I prefer not to sit at a computer screen for reading aloud to very young children. It may be possible to print the books, but not easily or conveniently. Children who are used to using computer games are going to find the graphics somewhat non-stimulating, and the pages turn slowly.

However, while I was not particularly impressed with the books, my almost 7-year-old thought they were hilarious and loved reading the readers by himself. He also enjoyed the books that I had to read to him and thought the illustrations were very funny. He asked to read them again. He also liked clicking the button to "turn the page," although it was easy to mistakenly turn too many too soon or turn the wrong way since the buttons are very small. So, perhaps the adage that simpler is better, especially for young children, holds true in this case.

The set of five books sells for $18.75 on the author's website. Each book can also be purchased individually on its own CD. I think the price would be reasonable if these were printed books, but not necessarily in this format.

Product review by Kim Kargbo, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010