Books are for nerds.

And, apparently, reading books to your children is for nerdy parents.

All the cool parents will now be farming out their dreary drudgerous reading-aloud duties to the Tag Reading System, a new wonder device from your good friends at LeapFrog. This "substitute-parent reading system" consists of a handheld remote-control-looking device that works with a library of "Tag-enabled" books to… well, read each page out loud to Junior so Mommy can spend her valuable time managing her investment portfolio or cruising Match.com instead.

Since just reading a book is no longer enough to hold children’s interest in the Wired Age, Tag also features "leveled learning activities that adjust automatically to [each child’s] own pace." Oh, and just so you can make sure your little ones are on track with their NCLB-approved learning goals, Tag also connects to "a personalized LeapFrog Learning Path" and monitors the reading skills they’ve mastered and those in which they continue to lag.

Of course, you could just sit down with little Jayden and Mackenzie and… I don’t know, read to them? Ask them to read to you so you can hear how they’re doing?

Also disheartening: the Tag "library" currently consists of one dreary purpose-written phonics reader called "Ozzie and Mack," a SpongeBob book and sixteen others, including "Walter the Farting Dog." (To be fair, it also includes "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and "The Little Engine that Could.") And it’s aimed at four- to eight-year-olds. My six- and eight-year-old would be bored out of their skulls by this collection of "literature;" we’re currently finishing up The Thieves of Ostia and looking forward to embarking on The Hobbit next. Oh, and lest you think I’m just an anti-audiobook snobbish sort, we’re also listening to A Little History of the World on CD in the car. The kids are freakin’ riveted.

(Via David Carnoy at CNET’s NewsBlog.)

(Miguel Helft at the NYT thinks Tag sounds dandy.)

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About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
This entry was posted in Books, Homeschool, Web/Tech. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Books are for nerds.

  1. Sylvie M. says:

    Where is it going to end? Parents are encouraged to take less and less personal responsibility for their kids’ education, and we wonder why literacy (and general knowledge) is declining so fast.

  2. Amy Sorensen says:

    The thing that frustrates me about this sort of thing is that reading to your kids is, I think, not only about the books, but it’s about the physical connection of snuggling under a blanket, the kid’s head under your chin or on your shoulder, and the sound of your voice. I think that physical connection makes for good readers later on, when they’re reading alone, because it drums up comforting memories. It saddens me to think of parents and kids who miss out on this. I can’t imagine being a mom without books involved! Sad.

  3. Mimi says:

    I agree with Amy, there is a multi-faceted aspect of reading with your children, that in many ways transcends the story.
    I also have to admit, we own Walter the Farting Dog.

  4. Janelle says:

    Yes, there’s way more to reading with children than simply learning words. There’s an interaction there that cannot be replaced by a machine. It really is disheartening to think of people spending money on such a thing.

  5. Magpie Ima says:

    Oy. I have nothing against audiobooks (and my kids love them) but with graded phonics readers? Way to turn ’em off reading for good. And don’t even get me started about NCLB…..

  6. Becky says:

    Gee, you don’t suppose the kids will figure out that it means that reading is just one more gosh darned chore that’s nowhere near as fun as cell phone and an iPod? Oy.
    We love the audio Little History!

  7. michele says:

    kill me now. no, wait … kill the future generations now. they won’t be useful, anyway. time to get to work on that cloning stuff, so we can just get a new batch of people from the gene pool at aarp.
    ugh. and yeah, my seven-year-old would shrug and walk away from that toy. then he’d go back to reading “the invisible man.”

  8. Helena says:

    We had a lot of books with records and I enjoyed them, but we read together a lot too.

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