Disclosure: I’ve been asked to write a review on BrillKids Little Reader and I have a copy of the software plus Semester 1 to give away to one reader for free. Details on the giveaway are at the end of this post. This is my honest opinion on the software – what I liked and didn’t like about it – and how I feel it has benefited our family.
I first heard about Little Reader in October 2008 and I trialled the software with Gavin who was 21 months then (just slightly younger than Gareth now). Although I saw the potential in the program, I was not interested in purchasing the software because I found it too tedious and time consuming to set up my own lessons. Being a busy mother, I wanted something that was ready-made and ready to go with minimal work on my part.
It wasn’t until BrillKids packaged their software with two semesters (1 year’s worth) of lessons that I decided to buy it. Instead of being a software I had to figure out and then create my own lessons, I was now ready to go with the click of a button. Everything was done for us:
- each day, the appropriate flashcards were shuffled and ready for us.
- there was a tracking system to show us which lesson we were up to and what we had already completed.
- we had word flashcards, flashcards with pictures, and multimedia to add a multisensory approach to our reading lessons (which we did not have with flashcards alone).
- our flashcards had variety because each subject had different pictures and different fonts to depict each word and its meaning, for instance, dog might be shown as “dog”, “DOG”, or “Dog”, while the image might be a poodle, a dalmatian, or a labrador.
- the program taught “whole word recognition” as well as “phonics” so children can learn to read quickly and be able to apply what they have learned with new words they have never seen before.
- the lessons included simple stories to reinforce budding reading skills.
- finally, we could personalise the flashcards so that the picture of “Mum” is me, the picture of “Dad” is my husband, the picture of a kitchen is of the kitchen in our house, etc.
This was a lot better than my Doman flashcards which:
- only contained words with no accompanying pictures to identify what that word might mean (which was fine for an older child who already knew what a “rocket” was but meaningless to an infant who had never heard of or seen a rocket). I started the Doman flashcard reading program with Gareth when he was 3 months old but I found his interest dwindling until I introduced images with the flashcards to help him understand what all those words meant.
- I had to shuffle the cards to get them ready for lessons; mark the flashcards so I knew how many times I’d shown a particular word and when it needed to be retired.
I have a more detailed comparison between Little Reader and the Doman program here.
My only gripe then was that Little Reader was a completely computer-based learning program, but since I had the physical flashcards from my Doman kit, I wasn’t too fussed. After a while, BrillKids, came out with Little Reader Deluxe which included physical flashcards, books, phonics cards, lesson planners, and sticker labels for labelling objects around the house. At this point, I was hard pressed to find another flashcard reading system that could top this. Little Reader Deluxe was truly a complete reading program for young children.
What about support?
With any software program, there are always faults and problems cropping up from time to time so how was the BrillKids’ after-purchase service like? Well, I haven’t had too many problems with the software but I have found the responses to my issues to be prompt and helpful. Additionally, for advice on progress and other non-software related issues, BrillKids has a forum to connect users with other like-minded parents who share their feedback on how they navigated through their personal issues, such as, “my baby has become very mobile and won’t sit still through a lesson, what can I do?”
They also have videos on Youtube that demonstrate how to operate all the different features on Little Reader so you have step-by-step instructions.
Little Reader has also won numerous awards:
- 2011 Media of the Year – Creative Child Magazine’s Creative Toy Awards
- PTPA Seal of Approval – Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) Media Awards
- Summer 2011 Tillywig Brain Child Award – Tillywig Toy Awards
- Mom’s Best Award Fantastic Products 2011 – Mom’s Best Award
- Fall 2011 TNPC Seal of Approval – The National Parenting Center
- 10 BEST Educational Products & 100 BEST Children’s Products – Dr. Toy Awards
Does it work?
What’s the point of a software program if it can’t deliver? Little Reader has numerous testimonials and success stories from parents. Watch them:
I know this is my review and it should be my kids on video. Unfortunately, I have never recorded their progress on video until recently when I entered a BrillKids video competition where I recorded Gavin reading. I haven’t recorded Gareth either because he likes to nurse while we read – whether it is a book or a Little Reader lesson. That and because I recently decided to reduce my children’s digital footprint after receiving disturbing emails regarding my children’s photos.
At this point Gavin (4 years and 8 months) is well beyond the curriculum of Little Reader. We still use Little Reader for our own dinosaur flashcards and linking memory stories for Gavin, and Gareth is still progressing through the curriculum.
Because Doman has always stressed the importance of resisting the urge to “test” your children, I have avoided doing so. However, recently, while hubby and I were at the bookstore, we asked Gavin to read a few random books from Ladybird’s Peter and Jane series. We got up to 10a before Gavin protested that he didn’t want to do this any more and was saved by the friend we were meeting. He could read the entire first page of 10a without any problems so we know he is reading at least at that level.
Now here’s the problem and reason why I have tried not to test him – once I start, I can’t stop. When I got home, I looked up some quick and easy online reading assessments to further identify what level Gavin was reading at and I *gasp!* tested him some more! (I know, I know! Bad Mummy!) As if that wasn’t bad enough – to get his cooperation, I bribed him! Okay, I promise, no more after this. Anyway, in both of the tests that we did, he could read up to Grade 4 level.
What is he reading on his own? Recently, he finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. He’s also reading my phone messages, emails and anything I write on the computer, so maybe it’s time to start changing his name in my blog posts. We’ve always joked that he was Aristotle and his brother was Hercules so maybe that’s what I’ll use from now on…
- Hercules, age 5, (aka G2) is also able to read Level 10 Peter and Jane books without difficulty
- Download the accessory Little Reader flashcards we made
The Giveaway – ENDED
I have one copy of Little Reader complete with Semester 1 lessons to giveaway. How can you participate? Get one entry in the draw for doing each of the following:
- Sign up for my newsletter
- Like Figur8 on Facebook
- Like BrillKids on Facebook
- Follow BrillKids on Twitter
If you have already done these, you automatically qualify for an entry, but don’t forget to leave a comment to tell me. Leave a comment for each of these that you’ve done. I’ll put all the entries into an online random selector and announce the winner on Monday 10 October 2011. Good luck!
Visit BrillKids for more information on Little Reader, early literacy, and early childhood education.
Buy Little Reader from the BrillKids online store, and get 10% off your purchase with the following code: BKAFF36716.
23 thoughts on “BrillKids Little Reader: Review and Giveaway – Ended”
Hello Shen Li! I’ve been your fan for a long time and have been receiving updates via e-mail. I’d like our baby girl Emery to be like these babies in the videos, so I’m participating in your raffle! 🙂
I’ve signed up for your newsletter before, and now I’ve liked Figur8 and Brillkids on Facebook, and I’m following #Brillkids on Twitter!
Keep it up with this great site of yours! I’m sure there’s a brighter world ahead for all the kids whose parents are informed through your site!
Thank you Joseph! Always great to hear feedback from my readers! Looks like you’re the only entry right now so the draw looks to be in your favour! Good luck!
I’m also your follow your blog, and i likes the ideas you shared and also those classes + apps that you found. Of course i like BrillKids – Little Reader also. 🙂
I have signed up your newsletter. 🙂
Hi Shen Li,
Too good to be missed!! : ) I’ve been subscribing to your newsletter, and I’ve now ‘liked’ Figur8 and Brillkids on Facebook, and am following Brillkids on Twitter.
Thanks, and keep the good blogs coming!! : )
Very impressive that Gavin is reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at this age. You are doing a very good job. Does he read silently? or reading a loud to you? Can you recommend other books that he had read?
My daughter is 3 year and 10 months old had just finished reading Fantastic Mr Fox. I am constantly looking for good books that are appropriate for her level to read. I had also been introduce on the topic ‘gifted children’. One of the characteristic of gifted children is that they learn to read early and with good comprehension. Have it come across your mind that Gavin might be gifted?
Jade and Denise – Thank you!
Pei Lin – sometimes he reads silently, sometimes he reads aloud. It depends on his mood and whether I have asked him to read to me. As for being “gifted”, I don’t know… I guess I’ve always felt that every child has the potential to be “gifted” if given the right opportunity. What they excel in depends on their individual inclination and whether they have been given the opportunity to follow it. That’s just my perspective.
Of course, I am proud of how Gavin has developed and I do not claim credit for it except in providing opportunities for him. I do not want to belittle what he has achieved either because I definitely could not read Charlie and the Chocolate at this age – in fact I don’t even think I could read at this age. I remember struggling over Peter and Jane book 2a when I was about 6 years old – just based on the house that I remember reading the book in. I don’t remember how I eventually learned to read but I remember those early days were painful and I had to be bribed with sweets to do it. While I love to read now, my reading pace is very slow.
And I’ve digressed… I guess what I’m saying is that I probably would have considered him to be “gifted” if I hadn’t provided him with any opportunities and he, inspite of the lack of stimulation, was still able to learn to read on his own. I feel confident that any child given the same opportunities as Gavin would be able to read as he does (which is why I share them here). And if I’m right, Gareth will be able to read as well as Gavin (despite being lessed inclined towards books and reading compared to his brother at this age).
BTW… I think it is fantastic that your daughter is reading “Fantastic Mr Fox” at her age (no pun intended). With regards to other books, I haven’t been specially selective. Gavin is not the sort of child who will read something he isn’t interested in so I have generally allowed him to pick his own books. The only restrictions I apply is that his selection be different to what he already has at home and that the book is not ridiculously too simple for him. For example, he still likes to read “Why do dinosaurs…” series (which is obviously too easy for him), which I don’t mind him reading in the bookstore, but I would never buy it for him since I know he is well past that level.
His passion for dinosaurs also means he reads non-fiction books like Nat Geo’s Dinopedia and other books about dinosaurs. In terms of fiction books, before moving on to Roald Dahl, he was reading Thomas and Friends, Mr Men, Berestain Bears, Dr Seuss – hardly challenging reading for your daughter so I’m afraid I can’t really recommend anything else that would be appropriate. I’ve known for a while that Gavin was ready to move on from these books, but he was never interested in books if there were no pictures in them. I was just happy that he enjoyed reading so much that I never made it an issue.
My husband and I have talked about it a lot though and we have considered introducing him to Enid Blyton, some of the classics, Harry Potter (since we already have the entire series). Choosing the right series of books is hard because he still gets scared easily and I worry books like “The BFG” and “The Witches” might frighten him. In fact, he won’t be ready for the later books of Harry Potter because I’m sure he’ll be scared – he hates snakes. I hope you can also share with us books that your daughter has enjoyed reading.
Is this the article you read about gifted children?
By that definition, then yes, I guess Gavin is gifted. Never occurred to me to check it out until you mentioned it. Thanks!
hi, i accidently come across your blog when i’m googling around about the right brain things for my kids and now i’m your fan. Believe it or not we have quite many things in common. i really appreciate the way u write in the blog with full of details. i think it is very complete and VERY useful for me (i’m a mother of 3). you get my full support!
oh yes i do interested in the Brillkids, count me in.
My pleasure, Joe. When i first started researching right brain education, I could hardly find any information on it. Now that I know about it, I think more parents need to know about it, especially since the schools are not available everywhere.
I had the same understanding as you about a child being gifted if given the right opportunity. However, a gifted child displays certain characteristic at an early age such as strong-willed, as infants they appear alert, they reach milestones earlier and average and many more. The two books that I had read about gifted children are “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children” James T. Webb (Author) , Janet L. Gore (Author), Edward R. Amend (Author), Arlene R. DeVries (Author) and “5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options” Deborah Ruf (Author), Ph.D. (Author).
Here is a link that briefly explains the levels of gifted.
Based on what I had read on the 5 levels of gifted book, a highly gifted child is able to complete 6 years of elementary school equivalent to our primary school in 1-1.5 year. A gifted child will get bored if placed in a traditional school setting.
I am also facing the same challenge of finding the right books for my daughter because she is emotionally not ready for books like “The BFG” and “The Witches” even though she can handle more difficult reading. This is one of the challenges faced by parents with gifted children when the child read 3 -4 beyond grade level.
My daughter had read “Mercy Watson series” by Kate DiCamillo. There are 6 books in Mercy Watson series, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi Barrett. She also reads “ Let’s Read and Find Out Science” and “Magic School Bus” series. Right now she is reading “Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure” by Jeff Brown. Other books that I am considering letting my daughter read are “Lafcadio The Lion Who Shot Back” by Shel Silverstein and “Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett.
Sorry for the late reply. Gavin has been sick. Looks like the boys are doing a tag-team…
Thanks for the info on gifted children – something for me to look into. Gavin is attending regular school because hubby would like him to, but I am pondering how to ensure it is a meaningful experience for him.
What schooling system have you decided for your daughter? I’m sure she will also be bored in a traditional school setting.
Oh yes, Gavin is also reading The Magic School Bus – another series that he enjoys. He hasn’t been reading it lately so I forgot about it. My SIL bought him Matilda recently and he totally flipped out because he wanted to get to choose the book and didn’t like the fact that she chose for him. Sigh… that’s another one of our dilemmas with him – he has some very strong idiosyncrasies that are difficult to get around and it also makes guiding him difficult.
Hi from the other side of causeway! I am really amazed at your dedication & effort with your boys. Have subscribed to your newsletter for sometime now, and introducing it to fellow mummies on similar journeys! Keep up the great articles!!
Thanks Hui Kheng. Great to hear from you again! I lost your contact but glad to finally have it again. 🙂
I have been following your blog since last year. I’ve done all the steps to qualify for an entry. This is such a good opportunity to get a copy of Little Reader for free!!! Keep it up! 🙂
Hi Shen Li, i have been a follower of you blog via email since beginning of this year when i chance upon it while searching for info on right brain education. Thanks for your sharing your thots and ideas and do keep up the good work.
It will be good if able to get a free copy of the LIttle Reader for my little girl. I have liked Figur8 and Brillkids in Facebook as well.
I think ” Narnia” is also fantastic to read. They have the original novels, but they also have picture books, suitable for younger children which I came across sometimes back, quite a good choice, I think.
FZ – hadn’t thought of Narnia. Great suggestion! Will keep an eye out for it.
I have been a follower to your newsletter for some time… I love it so much and gain a lot knowledge on how to teach and provide to my boy 🙂
btw, i have done the above mentioned… wish I could get a copy of the Little Reader for my little boy
I’m so sorry, the giveaway has ended. I think I should note it in the title. The winner was announced on Monday past…
i bought LR about 3mths ago. At first my gal is happy when i invite her to watch LR together. but later, she refuses to do so. i think she is bored with the program cause i saw her yawning while LR is playing :p
and frankly, i found that the words are repeating for quite a long time too (me also feel bored :p)
Do you follow the 2-sessions everyday? or you skip some? i wanted to skip some, say only do 1 session from the 2 sessions provided, but i scared the program is designed this way to make the children remember the words…. but i thought remembering is not the right-brain way? :p sorry my knowledge about right brain is only 0.001% :p
Hi Ng – no, we don’t do two sessions everyday. I agree it can be too much (my son felt the same) so I dropped one of the sessions. We only do one session a day and the next day, I start on the next lesson. I think it depends on the child. Some children may want more repeats and others may get bored easily. Sometimes, children want to repeat the topics they like. You have to follow your child’s lead. Sometimes, it might even be better to do one session and repeat the whole course again after you finish. Depends on whether you need to or if your child wants to.
Regarding right brain – some repetition is okay but too much tends to draw out the left brain. The thing about right brain memory is that you will find it difficult to see whether your child has “learned” the material because they may have it in their head but be unable to show you they know. Like sometimes when you ask them to name the word, they can’t, but if you ask them to match the picture, they can. As they get older and can express themselves better, you will see what they have learned. So just trust that your daughter knows it and move on.
When I first did flash cards with my older son, I didn’t understand how children learned. I thought they needed time to study the material to memorise it (the way we do), so I wanted him to look longer at the flash card, but he would glance at it and then look away. I made him repeat the same cards too many times thinking he needed the repetition to remember but he was bored and soon he didn’t want to do flash cards any more because I made the sessions too boring. This was way before I even know about right brain education. Hope that helps.
Hi Shen-Li, thanks for the sharing. I only do one session per day now, hopefully this will make her not so bored :p hahaa…. oh, me doing the same thing like you, repeat the flash card till my daughter say “no” to flash card :p
Went through the comments above, am so amazed that your son can read at such a tender age. i really hope my gal will love to read too. when do you noticed your son started to read by himself? recently my gal has been ‘reading’ by herself…. hahaha, in a very funny way. she just move her finger along the sentences and pretend that she is reading by saying some ‘foreign language’, like “mee mee ma ma, ba bi ba bi….” did your son do the same when he was just started to read? i scared my gal will continue this way, and is just pretend to read but is never like to read :p. i wanted to read for her, but she just can’t wait for me to finish reading the page and want to flip to the next…. what should i do?
hope you can shed some light. thanks