The New Adventures of Reader
Rabbit (4 titles)
The Learning Company
Reader Rabbit Preschool (Sparkle Star Rescue), ages 3-5 years
Reader Rabbit Kindergarten (Bounce Down in Balloon Town), ages
Reader Rabbit First Grade (Capers on Cloud Nine), ages 5-7
Reader Rabbit Second Grade (Mis-cheese-ious Dreamship Adventure),
All four titles are $19.99 apiece and all will run on either Mac
or Windows machines. Each title stands alone, yet each title also
builds upon the skills presented in earlier titles. Don't worry if
you haven't been following the adventures from preschool. The
educational elements in these products are all solidly researched;
the skills are plentiful and they are coherently taught and
For those of you already familiar with Reader Rabbit products,
take note that these titles will be the flagship products in this
series. Previous Reader Rabbit titles from before August 2001 are
"value" products now offered for sale at lower prices. The titles
described below can be thought of as the "top of the line" with
redesigned formats, extra features and new, improved learning
Each title covers a wide range of age-appropriate educational
skills without trying to jam too much in. You are getting your
money's worth here, despite a glaring glitch I'll talk about later.
Each title has an adventure story plot the reader may pursue,
gathering essential tokens, or jewels or other objects along the
way. Eventually, these objects allow the reader to unlock crucial
doors or accomplish some other vital task. The reader may elect to
bypass this fiction and just practice the skills. No geegaws will be
collected, but they are only useful to complete the fictional "game"
aspect of the program.
I tried it both ways and oddly I found the fiction more
satisfying than I thought I would. The child in me wants jewels,
gold, and trinkets. Practice mode seems to go on forever. Getting
the trinkets in fiction mode indicated to me that I was at least
moving toward a goal.
Many instructions are delivered by the talking characters, and
sometimes the voices are not understandable immediately. You, the
adult, will be needed from time to time to make things clearer.
Sometimes, the instructions leave out a step or two such as telling
the reader to click onto a specific spot to finish the activity.
Incredibly, some crucial graphics are simply so "mushy" that they
can't be read and the learning activity is useless. Rhyming
activities rely on visual and auditory cues. In one activity, the
rhyming words speed by, streaked and blurry and unreadable. The
activity is a washout. At least two other, different activities were
useless on my Windows ME machine. The Learning Company is a
top-flight organization and such errors are inexcusable from this
group. It is a judgment call as to whether or not you want these
titles to become part of your home library. All the other activities
are wonderfully solid educational experiences from which your child
will greatly benefit. At $19.99 a title, you are still getting a lot
of program. Perhaps by the time this article is published the
glitches will be sufficiently reported and repaired.
Each disc boasts manual and automatic level-difficulty
manipulation and progress tracking features. A small regular book
accompanies each disc with real words on real pages. Nice addition.
The books bear no obvious connection with the content of the
software, but that does not matter. Reading skills are transferable
and need not be lockstep reiterations of one media into another.
Happily, each disk contains three creative activities - painting,
music and calendar making—which can be accessed at any time without
the reader having to collect points, coins, seashells or anything.
The Preschool and Kindergarten versions are identical. Grade One's
painting module leaps out of bounds and offers exciting, easy to use
animation functions. Grade Two's painting function mysteriously
backtracks and becomes less challenging. The title page of each
program provides a link to a web based learning center created by
the Learning Company. There you will find reinforcement worksheets
and many suggestions for learning activities you can prepare
individually for your child.