To say that we had high hopes when we received a sample of Sparkup - the Magical Book Reader is an understatement. After all, one of our very favorite baby and kid gear guru's, Sheri Gurock, called it this season's IT gift in our Holiday Shopping Guide. The Sparkup not only met our expectations, but it easily exceeded them. Even my husband did a double take when he saw it in action. "This is amazing!" he said.
But before we get too carried away with our praise, let's get back to the basics and talk about how Sparkup works. Actually, I have no idea how it works. It's like magic. So, let's talk about what it does.
The Sparkup Magical Book Reader is a revolutionary device that clips directly on to any picture book and reads it aloud in your voice. You can record the book yourself, in any language, and add your own personal touches; or download professionally recorded stories, complete with sound effects, directly from the Sparkup website.
My seven year old was the first one to get his hands on the Sparkup and he had it set up and running with prerecorded books in about 5 seconds flat. No complicated set up, for the win. The Sparkup arrived with the books Shrek and Tikki Tikki Tembo loaded and ready for us to enjoy. I was impressed that the Shrek audio was voiced by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci!
Sparkup is geared towards children ages 3 to 6 who enjoy picture books. It's so simple to use, though, that Max has mastered it. He attaches Sparkup on the back page of a book, waits for the magical Sparkup to recognize the book and it starts reading from the cover through the end as he flips the pages. The Sparkup is so smart that it recognizes if Max (or anyone, for that matter) skips a page and it reads from the open page of the book.
After testing the prerecorded books, we recorded a few of Max's favorites onto the Sparkup. The internal memory can hold 250 minutes worth of reading - or about 50 books! You can connect the reader to your computer to organize, download and save various recordings, too. Recording the book was extremely simple and quick. Do you notice the trend here? Everything about this is easy to understand. Except of course how it works. That's magic.
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Okay, it's not magic. There's a small camera that records the page and associates the sound recording with that page so it always knows what to play. But, as far as Max is concerned the Sparkup is truly magical and totally blew his mind when he first listened to me read his favorite books. While I, of course, love reading books with all of my kids, I do enjoy the break. Max is in that stage where he likes the same book over and over again 500 times. We both win - he gets to listen to me read it as many times as he would like and I only had to read it once.
Sparkup the Magical Book Reader is an amazing gadget for every family, but I think it's particularly special for military families like ours. My husband can record several of each kids' favorite picture books so that he can "read" to them while he's gone. Obviously, it won't be the same as having dad home, but it will be such a beautiful thing for the kids to be able to hear his voice any time they want. I will highly recommend this to all of my military friends without hesitation. I think it's a must have.
For now, we're all happily together, the Sparkup is filled with Christmas books and has a permanent home with our children's book collection.
Shop! Sparkup, the Magical Book Reader is available for phone orders from our affiliate Magic Beans or online from Amazon for $60. It's money very well-spent as its the only investment you need to make - no special books are required.
You can find Sparkup and other great gift ideas in our Holiday Shopping Guide.