Web Child - Australia's Best Online Guide for Parents
Franklin Discover AnyBook Plus
Written by Kristy Diffey
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Title: Franklin Discover AnyBook Plus
RRP: $99.95 for 60 hours of record and playback time
Manufacturer: Franklin Discover
Rating: 5 stars
Available: Now from Dick Smith Stores and www.franklinelectronics.com.au
Target Ages: 3+
Review: It wasn’t necessarily love at first sight when I received the Franklin AnyBook. It’s not that it’s unattractive, in fact it’s very agreeably presented and has a great design. I just thought it would be too hard to work out and so I put it aside for later. Silly really because it is incredibly easy to use.
The AnyBook is a battery operated recording device that works by ‘reading’ special stickers that can be placed on the pages of picture books. All your child has to do is scan the sticker at the beginning of each page or book and they can hear you reading the story. Or whoever has recorded that particular one.
My parents are visiting this weekend, so I will meet them armed with the AnyBook, some stickers and some books. The recording process is easy and once you get started you could forget that you are being recorded (or you could go the other way and really ham it up for the microphone). We have recorded a number of books so far and the recordings are very amusing with our son, Jack’s interjections coming through loud and clear.
I wanted to check what other parents thought of the AnyBook, so I took it to work. Here I was able to show it to parents and librarians who were all very impressed with how easy it was to use - and my husband’s lovely rendition of The Fly by Gusti. They also suggested that it may be a useful literacy tool.
Jack is also a huge fan. He is very reluctant to let go of it and, if left to his own devices, would go on a sticker-ing and scanning spree. The only hesitation I would have is that, with all the enthusiastic pressing of buttons and scanning, it would be quite easy to delete stories, though none have been deleted by us so far.
The stickers themselves are quite easy to remove and don’t mark the pages. The ‘pen’ comes with a pack of blank stickers for recording. There are also some generic Mum, Dad, Granny and Grandpa stickers that can be used to identify the reader at a glance. I love the stickers with sound effects like animal sounds or machines. They are great fun placed in books at appropriate places, just when you need a siren, a woof or a tweet. The images on the sound effects stickers are bright and appealing but ours have been relegated to very high shelf so I don’t wake up and find myself thoroughly stickered.
We are lucky not to work really long hours so we have the luxury of both being here to read stories to Jack - but we still think it’s great fun. For people who do work long hours this would be great. A parent that frequently works late or does shift work could record stories so that their child gets to hear their voice. For us we will use it to record Jack’s grandparents and relatives. I also used it last week when my husband went away on business. After a tussle over who got to ‘drive’, Jack was pleased to still have Daddy read to him. A friend also suggested that for families with more than one child that the AnyBook would be great. Especially for those times when she is trying to soothe a crying baby and her son is asking for stories.
Like the parents’ mantra, “the television is not a babysitter”, neither would the AnyBook replace the experience of reading to your kids. But for those working long hours or shift work or away on business this is a great device. And with over 60 hours of recording time it holds lots of stories.
Really my only issue is price. The AnyBook I have records 60 hours and is $99.95 which I thought was expensive, for our budget anyway. My mother seemed to think it was quite affordable
There is another version that has fifteen hours of recording and costs $69.95. If you were purchasing one of these readers a decision would need to be based on how much you were willing to spend, your lifestyle and probably the age of your child. You could still fit an awful lot of picture books into fifteen hours of recording time.
The AnyBook is a clever, easy to use device for busy parents. Kids love using it (as do most adults). It all comes down to how it fits into your budget.
About the Reviewer: Kristy Diffey is a mum and library assistant who lives in rural NSW. She is obsessed with food and books - which makes her just perfect for the work she does for us at Web Child.
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29 March 2010