Sparkup: The Magical Book ReaderFriday, December 05, 2014
As a parent of two school-aged children, I have gone through a number of creative toys and gadgets that both my children have used and later passed on to their younger cousin. Then there are those that I have donated to a classroom once my kids have outgrown them or that I have used with my own students during class. But then there are the ones that I want to keep and, if I could, buy more of so that family, friends and students may all benefit. I'm talking about unique devices that spark the imagination and appeal to a vast array of interests. Enter Sparkup: The Magical Book Reader.
The Sparkup Reader is a device that allows you to create personalized audio recordings of virtually any illustrated children’s book. Kids can now listen and read along with their favourite book, such as Creature Features or Fall Leaves, simply by attaching Sparkup to the top of the book. They can also record their own voice while the device tracks each page via its built-in camera. Moms and dads can record their own voice, too, so you can stay connected with your child while you're away.
Once you have created an audio recording, you can attach Sparkup to that book at any time and the camera will automatically recognize its images and play the appropriate recording for each page. This enables the child to advance at his or her own pace. Accidentally skipped a page? Fret not. Sparkup can read pages out of order so you can advance or return to previous pages thanks to its unique camera sensing technology. The best part? It's so easy to use!
- Clip Sparkup to any picture book, press 'record' and read the book aloud.
- As you read, Sparkup will capture your voice while a tiny camera scans each page of the book.
- When your child wants to hear your voice, he or she clips Sparkup to any book you've recorded.
- Sparkup identifies the book and reads it aloud in your voice.
If recording multiple books, I suggest switching from page-by-page mode to continuous mode since the repetitive prompts can be a little annoying.
Sparkup's Magical Book Reader includes the unit which can store up to 50 book recordings, a hardcover demo book, instruction manual, three AAA batteries and a USB cable to connect to your computer. You can save recordings or download stories such as Shrek! as read by Emmy Award winner Stanley Tucci.
While not designed for pop-up books, I thought I would try one out anyway. For the most part, it worked but of course the 3D nature of the book obviously interferes with the camera. To ensure a successful recording of regular picture books, follow these five tips:
- Lighting: Record indoors in a well-lit room. The camera needs an evenly-lit frame without reflections or shadows.
- Hands: Sparkup's camera needs an unobstructed, clear view of the book. Be sure to keep hands away from the book after flipping each page.
- Pages: If the book's pages refuse to lie flat, press them down to ensure the camera sees them properly.
- Stickers: If there's a page Sparkup is not recognizing well, put a sticker in the middle upper part of this page, about 1" from the the edge, and record this page again.
- Background Noise: The built-in microphone can pick up noises in the background so I suggest finding a quiet place to record.
Designed for children ages 3 through 8, the Reader combines the compelling multimedia aspects of the Internet with traditional children’s literature and the voice of a loved one. It can help children learn to read, build retention, and improve comprehension. It is quite versatile since I can record a French storybook for my students to enjoy as well.
Sparkup, the Magical Book Reader is available for purchase on Amazon or www.sparkupreader.com for $59.99. Place your order before December 15 and get two FREE large paperback classics with preloaded Sparkup audiobooks, a $20 value!