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Reader (in the App store as Endless Reader) is a charming game designed to teach the most simple and important words for toddlers. The game has the toddler move letters over their positions in a word and then move words in a sentence and gives a cute animation demonstrating the word as a reward. Each section of this is active and animated – the individual letters call out their phonetic sound when touched and the words do an animation of their meaning; for example cat grows a tail and whiskers.
Good To Know
Adverts and Cost
Endless Reader does not contain any adverts at any point and does not have hard upsells on its extra content. The toddler would have to navigate to a different menu by moving an arrow and then answer a simple question (such as 2+2) to get to the extra charged content available so you are unlikely to have problems with this.
By default Endless Reader comes with six words and there is currently one extra pack of 20 words. Originator promises more will be available but for the moment there are only that 26 words. The pack costs £1.99 in the UK.
Endless Reader requires iOS 5.0 or greater and will work on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Originator has released versions of its apps on other ecosystems in the past, including both Android and Windows Phone so the chances are that at some point it will make its way to other operating systems.
A certain level of hand eye coordination is needed to select and drag the letters and words. An ability to recognise which letters fit over which outlines – this is not necessarily an ability to recognise what the letters are just to recognise that two are the same.
Adult Annoyance Factor
Quite low. There is a background theme tune but it is not particularly annoying. The letters and words make noise and ideally this should be left on as it will help the child associate the letters with their sounds but it will play without them.
Very accessible with large text, a very simple user interface, colourful cartoon graphics and a fixed point of view. At no point is there any reliance on colour. The letters are all capitals.
The special effect sounds are one of the main attractions and beautifully complements the game as well as being educational. The phonic letter sounds are perfectly enunciated and repeated and the words and sentences are read properly. The reader has an American accent. The game can be played with sound turned completely down but a lot of the educational value of the sounding out will be lost.
Physically a low level of coordination is needed. The letters or words need to be dragged to their positions in the word or sentence, but the hit box (the area you can drag it to) is quite large and forgiving. You also get as many goes as needed with no form of penalty. The letters and words do not reset to their original position when dropped in the incorrect location so it is also possible to move them little by little to the right area.
The game has a simple concept – move one thing on top of another thing that looks like it and get a reward animation. In reality this is also reinforcing the link between letters and their phonetic sounds but taken at the simplest level it is very accessible and has very simple logic. There is no language requirement per se and the animations are amusing even if the words behind them are not understood.
Endless Reader is well designed and very cute iOS game which achieves its aim of being enjoyable, educational and replayable. Its educational aspect works very well – my 3 year old has been gleefully shouting the phonetic sounds of letters since finding the game and has found it addictive. It ships with 6 free words which is enough to see if it works for you with its biggest downfall being that only 20 more words are available as in-app purchases giving it a relatively short use life. As it is Endless Reader is well worth a look if you are starting phonetics and if Originator releases more word packs will have lasting appeal.