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Golden Apple Awards 2010 (ages 6-8)

From a talking pen to a futuristic ant farm, these toys are made for kids' learning (and fun).

By GreatSchools Staff

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V.Reader Interactive e-Reading System

Ages 6-8, $59.99

Called the “Kindle for kids,” this reading device combines stories featuring well-known characters like Dora the Explorer with interactive games that teach specific reading skills. As a product designed to both capture kids’ attention and keep it focused on learning, VTech's V.Reader Interative e-Reading System gets high marks. It's kid-friendly and kid-proof, with a colorful interface and sturdy, functional buttons. Thanks to the cartoons, kids may feel more like they’re watching Saturday-morning TV than doing work.

The only caveat is the long-term expense — the V.Reader burns through batteries, and the AC adapter is sold separately. To download the six free e-books that come with the purchase, you need to buy a SD memory card (Toshiba, Transcend, SanDisk, Kingmax, and Imation are the compatible brands). Additional e-book cartridges are about $20. Still, once you’ve made the commitment to this toy, your ready-to-read child will have hours of productive fun on this handheld literacy learner.

Bottom line: This kiddie Kindle boosts early reading skills with the help of cartoons — but at a price.

Comments from readers

"Lets see YOU find something better that will excite kids to read!!!"
"Snore...three out of four of these toys are this the best great schools can do? Sad. Rotten Apple Award!"