One of the best things about being a Craft Test Dummy is that occasionally you’re asked to reviewÂ a product that you might ordinarily pass up only to find that it’s awesome and much more versatile that you expect. Such is the case with the Anybook Reader by Franklin Discovery.
When I went to the website to find out more about it before I agreed to do my review, this is the description I found:
AnyBook reader is a unique tool for children, parents and grandparents that helps make reading fun and more enjoyable. AnyBook reader uses a simple touch, record and playback process that allows you to read any story and record your own voice while you read it. This way, your child can hear your voice anytime they want to read.
Um… Ok. My kids are old enough to read on their own… so I thought that this might not be for me.
But then my wheels started turning…. and I started thinking about scrapbooks, art projects, and even family photos and history…. I quickly did a 180 degree turn and jumped at the chance to try it out.
So I got the package from Franklin and opened it up. This is what I found inside:
You get instructions, the pre-recorded sound stickers, the “blank” stickers, and the Anybook Reader…which I like to call the “recording wand.” (Because it’s pretty magical!) What you DON’T get is batteries. Make sure you pick up two AAA batteries before you get started.
What really sets this product apart from most record-your-voice book sets is that you don’t buy a special book or card or scrapbook. With the Anybook Reader, it will read…well, anywhere you can put a sticker. This means you aren’t limited to BOOKS! You can place your stickers on your kids art, family photos, and anything else that might have a “behind the scenes” story. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
To try it out, I thought I’d start with a traditional book…with a twist. I sing to my little one at night, and it’s a little ditty composed by Ella Jenkins (she taught it to me at a workshop when I was a Music Therapist, lo those many years ago.) The actual text comes from the book “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. But the point is that I sing my little girl that song at bedtime, and sometimes I travel…so I decided to record that book (with singing) to get my feet wet.
Success! The instructions (which also include photos and auditory cues) were spot-on and I was a-stickern’ and a-recordin’ like a pro! And just to let you know, my daughter LOVED it…she went back and activated the stickers with the song part over and over. I actually had to hunt her down and get the Anybook Reader back so I could go on with the next part of my review!
The next thought I had was….”What if you have an altered book…and there are stories behind the pages?” So I used the Anybook Reader to record the stories of “What Art Means To Me”- an altered book I did as part of my portfolio to get into the Master’s of Art Therapy program.
I mean, the book is a visual story, but I wanted to share WHY I used some materials, and what some of the sub-text was. Now, on this project the stickers kind of stick out like a sore thumb…if I was making this today, and I knew I was incorporating the Anybook Reader, I’d create little flaps that blend in with the page and then put the sticker underneath.
By the way, the stickers have a special adhesive that will allow you to remove the sticker without damaging the book. It sticks pretty tight, though- I had to scrape it off with a fingernail. No worry of it just dropping off the page and getting lost. The only drawback is that you can’t write on or alter the stickers- it interferes with the encoding.
Here’s a little video of my experience:
Let’s talk price, shall we? The set I reviewed has a 60 HOURS ofÂ recording capability (and yes, you can erase, too.) It also has TONS of stickers- I can’t see me running out in the foreseeable future. (Although you can order extra stickers separately, too.) This kit retails for only $59.99USD and is available online and at the big bookstore chains. Hello! I paid more than that for a set of markers recently!
If that’s too much for you, there is another option- there is a 15-hour version of the Anybook Reader and it’s only $39.99. For me, that puts it in the sweet spot for gift-giving…and Mother’s Day IS coming up!
This product is so innovative that it was up for the CHA Innovation Showcase- and only 20 products make that list in the hundreds that apply. Sadly, it didn’t win, but maybe it should have!
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