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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great toy
There is a lot to like about the tag reader system. It allows children to independently explore detailed reading concepts such as reading left to right, letter sounds, letter names, etc. There are quite a few ways to interact with the story. You can choose to read both pages at once, a word at a time, independent letter names, word names, silent letters, sight words,...
Published on September 27, 2011 by Debra

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132 of 134 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Love the Tag, but this bundle is mediocre at best
I'll preface this review by saying my son received a Tag reader last Christmas and owns several of the hardcover books. He doesn't play with it all the time, since he likes other books too, but he has a lot of fun with it. The stories are interesting and he loves the games and activities too. It has proven quite durable, and our rechargeable batteries have gotten quite a...
Published on September 29, 2011 by Lisa Love


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132 of 134 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Love the Tag, but this bundle is mediocre at best, September 29, 2011
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'll preface this review by saying my son received a Tag reader last Christmas and owns several of the hardcover books. He doesn't play with it all the time, since he likes other books too, but he has a lot of fun with it. The stories are interesting and he loves the games and activities too. It has proven quite durable, and our rechargeable batteries have gotten quite a workout (which are almost a must for this device). He's 5 now and not reading yet. I'd been contemplating getting him one of the reading sets when this Vine offer landed in my lap.

This set includes:

A green Tag reader with USB cable (not purple as in the image)
Tag starter book
6-book Learn to Read book set 1, short vowels
6-book Learn to Read book set 2, long vowels
A carrying case, which can store all the books

He's played with it on and off for ten days now, and I find myself quite disappointed in the set. The books are all soft cover and poor quality in my opinion to stand up to repeated Tag use. The stories themselves are fairly boring; my son lost interest in them very quickly and instead turned to playing the activities. There is no option to have the Tag read the whole book to you, it only works for two pages at a time. Really quite mediocre and not worth the money.

This bundle seems like a great value, but really it's not. It's not a knock on the Tag system by any means. I'd instead recommend buying the Tag reader and books from their wide selection of hardcovers. The books stand up better, the stories are more interesting, and there's more for a child to learn from them.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great toy, September 27, 2011
By 
Debra (Rochester, NY, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is a lot to like about the tag reader system. It allows children to independently explore detailed reading concepts such as reading left to right, letter sounds, letter names, etc. There are quite a few ways to interact with the story. You can choose to read both pages at once, a word at a time, independent letter names, word names, silent letters, sight words, etc. The pictures have sounds or dialogue for different characters and objects, which my daughter found really entertaining. Some books also include interactive games related to letter sounds and word families at the end of the book.

I also LOVE the carrying case because it keeps the Leapfrog books separate from our other books and keeps the pen in one place. Drawbacks for the case is that it could be sturdier and the pen doesn't snap in (so it falls out easily if a child is trying to close it).

There are also a few other weaknesses. First, the manual is completely uninformative. Maybe I'm dense, but it took me a while to figure out that you have to press the pen down in order to get it to work. I was trying to skim the pages so that they weren't damaged. The manual didn't mention that. In fact, the manual doesn't say much at all.

Another major drawback if you're giving it as a gift is that there is quite a lot of setup time involved. You have to download the Leapfrog program (similar to iTunes) and actually download all of the stories, then upload them to the pen. So if it's Christmas or a birthday or something, I would do that ahead of time. The pen also didn't have a ton of storage space. 32 gigs sounds like a lot, but the books included in this gift set take up two thirds of that.

The only other major drawback is that the books are expensive and aren't hardcover, so I am concerned about their longevity. There also seems to be a disproportionate number of licensed books available among the already limited selection, which I'm sure doesn't help the cost any. I don't really appreciate licensed books because they seem more like marketing than education.

Having said that, my daughter really enjoyed going through all the books and found them highly entertaining. I'd give it four stars just for entertainment value. It has its drawbacks but definitely keeps kids constructively occupied.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Starter Set, October 26, 2011
By 
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The TAG system from Leapfrog is popular educational toy, and this bundle is a solid introduction.

The pen itself is easy to use and intuitive. Both my children picked it up immediately. The case is fairly durable and holds the whole set of books.

The books themselves are a little mundane. These are early reader sets, and my 5 yo did not find them very interesting. However, they love to play with the "sampler" book with selections from other tag products (including branded Disney, maps, etc.)

The softcover books are not especially durable for repeated use, but I can't see any child using them so much they'd wear out. They just aren't that captivating. Nor are they at all necessary to learn to read. If your child resonates with them and learns from them, that's fantastic! But it is by no means the only way (or the best way) to help your child gain reading skills.

I'd consider this set if using the system to aid in learning to read is a major goal. If you are most interested in fun, just buy the individual books your child is most interested in.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tag system is OK, but these books are horrible, November 12, 2011
= Durability:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have 2 children who are learning to read, but in different stages. My 7 year old is a very fluent reader and pretty much taught herself to read...but my 6 year old is a different story. Because of that, I was super excited when presented with the opportunity to test this set out. After playing with it for a few weeks, our family has a love/hate relationship with this set. I have compared it to other Tag books our friends have and compiled a list of pros and cons, which are at the end of my review. In general, I'm not very fond of this set for actually helping your kid to learn to read, but it is great to play with. The books are too advanced for a child first starting to read, and that is just discouraging for the child...therefore they lose interest in it. A beginner book should not have as many words, let alone as many sentences as these do on 1 page, A child feels accomplished when they read a whole book on their own...for a beginner reader to read these, it might take up to 15 minutes, that is if they don't get discouraged first and quit. So, a thumbs down, in my opinion, for it's ability to help your youngin' learn to read...but a thumbs up for the entertainment. Not only can it read to you, but each page can have little games if you touch the pen in certain areas, the characters will say things, and it plays little jingles...those things are what keeps my kids interested in this. As for teaching my 6 year old to read better, the "Decodable Reader" pamphlets the teacher sends home (cheap Xerox copies stapled together) do a MUCH better job of keeping my sons attention and teaching him how to read without feeling discouraged.

*** PROS ***
-Great concept, which allows your children to read independently...but your child must have the drive to learn and NOT always use the Tag pen as a "cheat"
-You get a lot of books in this set, which is great...but as you will see in the con list, they are not of great quality
-The case is a great addition. It keeps the books neatly together, along with the USB cable and the Tag pen itself. I have a few complaints about the case, but in general it is really handy and keeps everything safe & together.
-This isn't just for reading, some of the pages have games in them and touching the pen to the pictures or characters in the books will result in a jingle or a saying.
-Others complain you can't make the pen read the whole book, but I find it great. Parents need to be more involved with their kids throughout their school years, but more so when learning to read...giving them this pen that reads to them will make some parents think they don't have to participate anymore. The pen will only read the 2 open pages (left & right side) at a time...turn the page and touch the pen to start reading the next part of the story. I find this too much, but others may like it.
-The pen is LOUD! It has a volume control and a headphone jack, which is great because at full volume, it's really loud.

*** CONS ***
-This is not an "out of the box" play item. There is quite a bit of setup involved prior to being able to read the books. You have to first install the LeapFrog software (I HATE THINGS THAT MAKE ME DO THIS)...and then download the books to the pen. If that is the case, I don't really know why you need a special book...but its their product, not mine. If giving as a gift, I recommend doing this prior to giving it so you don't have an upset kid.
-Even though I think the case is great, it has a few flaws...there is no way to clip the pen into it, you just set it into a shaped area, which is a big problem if your little one doesn't snap the lid on correctly because the case can open up, spilling all of the books and Tag pen itself, hopefully not onto a hard floor.
-Books included in this set are not hardcovers, but rather have a card-stock-like feel to them. After a few readings, the covers start looking like a very used 10 year old school text book and eventually tear.
-The internal pages of the book are VERY sensitive to bends and moisture. Kids tend to bend pages sometimes when reading, which usually isn't a problem as you can just bend it back...but if a bend/crease gets on these pages, it becomes very difficult for the Tag to read it correctly. If you get them wet in anyway, might as well throw the book away or rip that page out because it will never work right again. Since these are aimed at children around 4-5 years old...a little more quality should have gone into the books
-The included books are B-O-R-I-N-G. They don't make you laugh ever, and most of the time, the story doesn't flow...seems choppy, if you know what I mean.
-The pen doesn't seem like it is comfortable to hold in my 6 & 7 year olds hands. It is a rather large device, which is better than small...I just think there could have been a more ergonomically correct design for little hands. It also could have had a rubberized grip rather than its slippery plastic.

Okay, enough words. The Tag pen may be great for some kids, but these books are horrible. If you want to give the system a try, purchase just the pen and then hardcover books that you think your child would be interested in because children learn so much better when you can keep their attention and make it fun!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He's reading!, November 15, 2011
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When we received this set, about six weeks ago, my first-grade son was struggling with his reading. He didn't like to read out loud and so it was hard to determine where he was really at. He was not confident in his skills and usually gave up before he'd really tried.

After one month of using the tag pen and books, he's improved dramatically. I think the foundational skills were already in place thanks to school, but the tag books really helped his confidence. He enjoys the 'power of the pen' but I always make sure he reads me the page before he gets to go back through and check the words with the pen. He is now reading with much less hesitation on the level 1 books, but he's still challenged by the level II books and we are now working our way through those.

You can set the pen on three different settings, 'say it' 'sound it' or 'spell it' which all work to hone different skills. For younger children or beginning readers, the 'say it' setting is perfect because they can glide over words and the pen will say the word for them, which develops word recognition. My 4-year-old, who isn't reading at all, still enjoys playing with this set because the pen will read the story to him. In the back of each book it tells you what primary skill that story is focusing on and what new words your child will be learning. I find this helpful to go over so I know what to ask him about.

Probably my favorite feature of this system is that the books are so interactive!! I thought all the pen did was read the words, which didn't seem like that big of a deal. Then one day I noticed my 4-year-old was playing with it and clicking all over the page: the different elements in the illustrations had sound effects, voices, and more details of the story! These books are really amazing. I'm very impressed by how accurate the pen is. You do not have to click the same thing over and over to get it to respond, it always gets it right on the first try. Excellent construction on the pen, the books (sturdy binding that will not be easily torn) as well as the case. My kids have been less than gentle on the case and it has held up well. It's designed to break into two pieces under stress, rather than permanently damage the plastic attachment, which was thoughtful construction considering how rough children can be.

My only complaints with this system is that, as with all Leap-pad products, you cannot use them the first time until they have been connected to your computer (it is compatible with either Mac or PC) and the software has been installed. After installing the software you then have to load each individual book onto the pen, and I believe it holds up to 10? Each of the boxes of books that came with the set contained six books, so you cannot have all of them on there at once. This is mildly annoying to me because I have to find the cord and attach the pen to my computer to change the books that he can play with. That, however, is not a deal breaker. I still really like this product.

Also, the particular books that come with this set are a tad bit cheesy. They are very basic stories reminiscent of "See Dick run. Run, Dick, run." After he gets his reading skills down, I doubt my son will spend much time reading these particular books again. However, they are great for building basic skills and he is learning quite a bit. Out of all the books that came with the set, he was most intrigued by the 'sampler book' which was really just an advertisement for all the different types of books that are available for the system. Once he really has down the skills that these books are teaching, I will probably buy him some new books for the tag pen that are more to his liking, such as Cars or Scooby-Do.

All in all, this is a GREAT system and I'm glad we have it. I can tell that it will be a valuable tool that will help all three of my younger children to begin reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for long road trips; good educational aspect, October 17, 2011
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having 7 children of my own, ages 9 and below, I really got a good picture of how these books are for younger children. They have been extremely popular in my house since we tried them out, so the kids give them a definite 5 stars!! As far as my own opinion: I think that they are great books, but could use a few improvements.

First the things that I love:
My 5 year old, who is learning to read, can work on his sounds and reading skills. In fact, this set is perfect for that since it focuses on short vowel sounds and then proceeds to long vowel. They are basically beginner readers but have the interactive aspect, which is great for busy hands.

They are PERFECT for in the car. We happened to get these right before a 4 day road trip and they were by far the most fought over toy in the van. The varying books made them interesting and they are perfect for your child's lap. The handy case kept them neat and organized.

Once you get past the downloading (thank goodness I noticed this before we left on our trip!!), they are easy to use and the kids, even my 2 (almost 3) year old, have no issues making them "work", even if she doesn't understand all the aspects of it.

Even my oldest 9 year old enjoyed the games and the like in the books; so it has a good age range of interest; making it a more valuable buy that grows with your child.

And the cons:
Durability. They are softcover, and by the time our 1 month trip was done there was a rip or two on a page when the baby got a hold of it and was fighting over it. I wish they were hardcover, I think they would stand up a lot better. Still, with my supervision they should last a very long time.

Stories are a bit bland for easy readers. I wish they were a bit more interesting. My children ended up spending the most time with the "sales" book: the one that had a page each advertising Toy Story, Scooby Doo, etc... instead of the readers. So the readers are a bit more bland if you are looking for pure entertainment purposes. If, however, you are using these to help your child learn to read then you will probably not mind about this.

Overall, I was very pleased to be offered these books, and will be adding some more to the set for Christmas!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but sometimes frustrating, October 12, 2011
By 
M. Garrison (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The LeapFrog Tag system has a lot going for it. Even young three year-olds seem to pick up pretty quickly how to use it, touching the pen to different words, letters, or objects on the page of the book to interact with the system. Depending on which book you're using it with, and which "mode" you're in, you can have the pen read a whole page out loud at once, read individual words or letters, sound out letters, or answer questions in games. I think it would be especially useful for kids in two groups. For kids who are interested in books, but are too young developmentally for formal reading instruction, the Tag system can be a great way to give them a jump start into reading. And for kids who are struggling with beginning reading skills, the Tag system can be a good addition to regular reading practice -- more fun and less frustration, which can help keep them seeing reading as a good thing, not as a "do I really have to?" kind of thing.

All the different possibilities built into the system create some frustrations, though. For me, the biggest two were:

* Every time you buy a new book for the system, the parent needs to go to the Tag website, download the software file for that book, and load it into the pen using the USB cable. As a result, the books really aren't a "buy a new one at the store and use it right away" kind of thing. If you are buying a big set of books and setting them all up at once, it is probably far less frustrating than having to do it one at a time as the books come in. I would have gone from "yeah, pretty good" to "this is awesome!" if only each new book just came with something you plugged into the pen to transfer the file or something. For the price you pay for each book, it is irritating to need to go through those extra steps.

* The "modes" available differ by which book you're using and sometimes even which page you are on within a book. That can even be a little confusing or frustrating for adults trying to demonstrate the system, and I've definitely seen it cause some issues with younger kids using it. Especially if you have younger or more easily frustrated kids, it may be smoother to start out with books all of the same type, so that there's not the confusion of switching between all the different options.

All in all, it's a fun toy with some useful educational value -- but for me, at least, some technological frustrations keep it from being truly amazing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Product for Helping to Develop Young Readers, September 22, 2011
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We gave this product to our four year old who has been reading. She just began spelling and writing her name as well as other words. I was unsure of how she would receive this product as she loves regular books and has rarely shown true interest in what I call "mechanical readers." My concerns were quickly remedied. She loves this product beyond expectations.

The Tag Learn and Love to Read Set comes with everything you need (except 2 AAA batteries and audio for the books that is, see below). The number of books (12) will keep your child occupied for some time. Not just because they can follow along with the words, but because every picture has sound effects. So, beyond reading, you can hear the sound effects that accompany the story by touching the pictures(such as a dog barking or a girl laughing). In this regard, I find the product goes beyond expectations. Also, the books feel very durable in that they should be able to take the typical abuse and beyond during use and play. They are not spiral bound. This means they will not lay flat unless you really press on the binding, so keep that in mind for smaller children or one handed use.

The Tag Reader itself is a decent device. BEWARE- the tag reader only comes loaded with the audio for the sample book and WITHOUT batteries (2 AAA). Before using any of the other books, you will need to install 2 AAA batteries and attach the device to your computer (via supplied mini-USB cable) and download the audio (via the Connect website). If you are not prepared for this, you may face disappointment since the other books cannot be used without the applicable audio file and the Reader will not work without batteries. The physical construction (durability) of the Tag Reader device concerns me a little. For example, there is a tip on the device that appears prone to breaking. Also, I am not sure the device would survive a fall onto a hard surface. The ergonomics of the device appear decent for a three year old and older child. The device has an earphone jack as well as a mini-usb port and the typical volume and power buttons. The Tag Reader is limited to 25 mb of memory, which is more than enough to hold all the audio for the included books with about 14 mb to spare.

The supplied case is OK. It will hold all the books supplied in the kit, but no more than that. There is a dedicated storage compartment within the case for the Tag Reader. When loaded, the case is a little heavy for a three to four year old to carry any further than to the car.

A critical part of the system is the Connect website. I found the website to be very user friendly. The website did not require the atypical mandatory registration involving 30 minutes of your time. It took about 2 minutes to input the information (e-mail required) and access the audio files. The system also allows you to monitor your child's use of the system (when synched) and also provided bonus features, that I have not really checked out yet.

Like I said earlier, the system is a hit in our house. I think it would make a decent gift because it seems to make reading fun. The price point may seem a little high. I imagine it may drop over time. However, purchased individually, you would pay more (looking at prices as of today). I definitely would recommend this product. With rough kids however, I would also recommend you monitor their use of the Tag Reader device and ensure they take care of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Educational, but a Little Tedious, December 11, 2011
By 
McBean "BJMcBean" (Orange County, California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a TAG system. The TAG is like an electric pen that when scrolled over the words in a book will sound out the words and "read" it or pronounce each syllable/consonant/vowel to the user. Several books came with this TAG reader and are all about vowel sounds. Also included is a nice, hard plastic carrying case that fits all the books nicely, perhaps our favorite feature, since it holds the pen, all the books and is easy for "D" to carry.

What I do not like is that, unlike other "smart" pens, you have to go online, hook up the pen via a USB cable to the computer and search for the book you have, which isn't as easy as you would think it is. Not all books are displayed, so you have to do a word search on the Leapster Tag site. You then select that book and it will download to the pen, which takes only a couple of minutes. After this is done, you can then "read" the book with the TAG pen. In addition, the TAG's memory only doesn't hold many books. If you fill up the books too quickly, you'll have to delete a book from TAG by going online again and deleting to make room for another book. To me, it's a lot of steps. If a child wants to read that book again, he'll just have to wait for the book to be downloaded onto the pen. There is another similar system called VTech which requires no computer download at all, and is much easier. With TAG, I have learned that I just need to download when our little guy is asleep and when he wakes up for the next day, his pen and books are up and running. It is a great teaching tool. VTech reads stories that all children know, while Leapster with its TAG system is truly teaching the child to read, so I think this is the better learning tool. The parent just needs patience with the downloads. "D" really likes it and identifies with Leap, the Leapster frog character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic books for learning to read, November 9, 2011
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love LeapFrog learning products, especially the colorful learning DVD's. I was very excited about the tag reading system since my twins were already familiar with some of the LeapFrog learning materials. The product specifies that it should be used for four year olds and up, which proved true in the case of my three year old twins. They were excited at first because of the new toy, but they lost interest pretty quickly when I wouldn't allow them to do what they wanted with the pen(use it as an airplane, a missile or some other type of vehicle). The books are wonderful and I found they enjoyed them better without the pen. I feel this is a good product that will serve well as a learning tool for those over the age of four. I have put the pen away for now, but I have continued to use the books. Overall, I feel this is a good learning tool for children over four.
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LeapFrog Tag Learn And Love To Read Set
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