Just as infants so easily learn to swim (as did our three Gadget Family children starting at about six months of age), so, too, can very young children learn to read.  What’s more, learning to read along with other language arts skills at an early age is a strong step toward what is hoped will be a lifelong love of reading. Of course, read to your children daily for as many years as you can get away with it!

This new $30 VTech Bugsby Reading System appears to be a good tool in the parents’ arsenal of helpers to encourage early reading and language skills that are so important.  Starting as young as age three, preschoolers can learn and be entertained with this system.  Then, through about age seven, children can continue to learn and enjoy the Bugsby experience. 

Bugsby is in the form of an electronic bookworm-shaped non-marking pen, seen above, that is perfectly sized for little hands. Inside are replaceable AAA batteries, a speaker and the electronics that sense “hot spots” embedded on the pages of the special 20+ content pages of each Bugsby Reading System book. With the touch of the bottom of the electronic “pen,” little learners navigate through a magical story world page-by-page, book-by-book.

There are currently seven titles offered, including Olivia, Wonder Pets, Dora the Explorer and more, plus bonus activities that translate into hours of learning AND entertainment.  I expect more titles will be added to the library in the months ahead.


Here’s the drill.  Each book comes with a snap-in cartridge, really a USB drive, that snaps into the Bugsby “handle” and that tells the handle all it needs to know about the book associated with that cartridge.  The reading sensor at the bottom of Bugsby, when gently touched at these hot spots in each book tells Bugsby what to do. This includes reading the entire story, helping to identify a drawing or pronouncing a word so the child can associate the visuals of the letters of the word with the sounds the letter make in pronouncing the word.  In addition, this is how to engage in bonus activities in each book. The fun bonus games reinforce the messages taught while reading the book with Bugsby, such as reading comprehension, letters, spelling, consonants and vowels, as well as advanced phonics.

Each successive book is a variation on the theme. Parents know that children want to read books again and again and again and even more, sometimes all in one sitting.  That’s great, just the way it should be.  With practice, the child can assume holding Bugsby and operating the system on his own.  That’s just the way things work in life. First we help then we are pushed aside as the child learns to do it on her own. It is still a valuable experience to be there, to sit with and to hold the young child making this the fun activity it can and should be.  It is also gratifying to see the transformation from the preschooler’s experience through to the seven-year old’s experience as they clearly can do it all without assistance.

Through the journey, Bugsby and all the books, all age-appropriate, continue to do as they are meant to do, helping to build language skills and to strengthen them through fun activities.

Bugsby helps kids with language development, reading development, problem solving, cause & effect, visual awareness and discovery & exploration.

Each additional book retails for $13.

Everyone is a winner with Bugsby!

Questions? Call VTechkids at 1-800-521-2010, M-F 8am – 5pm Central Time.  Find VTech Bugsby Reading System at http://www.vtechkids.com and at major retailers nationwide including Kmart, Toys R Us, Sears, Wal-Mart and Target.

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