> The Beesley Buzz: Sparkup - the magical book reader

Sparkup - the magical book reader

Miss T loves books. She loves us reading to her. And she loves 'reading' to her teddies - she picks up her favourite Hoppy and Patch, grabs a book, sits on the floor and tells them the story. This involves turning the pages, and babbling away. I'm sure she understands it, and I'm fairly sure Hoppy does too - but Patch sometimes gets a bit lost.

But that is where the fantastic Sparkup Reader comes in!

The Sparkup Reader is a new innovation in reading for young children. It is a simple gadget you clip onto the book. You then read the book as normal to your child (or pre-record it beforehand) and record each page into Sparkup. Then, when you come to read the book to your child (or they take it to read to Patch) Sparkup reads it back to them.
Using a tiny built-in camera, Sparkup takes an image of the page as you read the words. It recognises the front cover so knows which book Miss T has chosen. It can tell if you skip pages, or if you go back a page or two, and always reads the right page. And as it is your voice your child hears, the familiar favourite story can be heard again and again even if you aren't about. It's great for when Daddy is at work - Miss T can still hear him reading to her.

Everyone in the family has gotten involved - mummy, daddy, and big brothers J and D have all recorded stories for miss T. And Sparkup has loads of memory to store lots of Miss T's books. So Patch will always know exactly what's going on in every story Miss T reads to him!

Sparkup comes with demo batteries (it takes 3x AAs which should last up to 30hours of playback), as well as a USB cable to connect to your computer to back-up your recordings, and a sample book. It can record up to 50 picture books (and 4 hours of audio), and it works with almost any picture book you already have. Both paperback style books and baord books fit into the reader. It's really easy to use - both to record new books (it has audio prompts to remind you what to do) and to listen to the books. You can even download pre-recorded books (although we haven't done this ourselves - Miss T is too excited by hearing her family members reading to her at the moment). And, if you have a friend or loved one with a Sparkup of their own and the same book, you can share your recordings with them.

This is a fantastic idea, enabling Miss T to enjoy her books when we aren't able to read to her, and encouraging her to follow the story and, in time, to read them herself.

When we were sent this product to review, I had two main concerns. I was worried that it would be overly complicated to set-up and use and that it would be time-consuming to record the books in the first place. But it really is mega straight-forward and easy - It only has two buttons on it and a volume control. You can do the recordings as you are sharing books with your child anyway so it didn't take up any 'additional' time.
My second worry was that reading is one of the activities that has remained largely paper based in this family rather than taken over by the kids' love of electronic gadgets. Would the Sparkup book reader just be another electronic gadget that takes the kids away from their love of reading themselves?

Thankfully, we found that the Sparkup magical book reader actually complements and encourages reading. Both J and D who are competent readers have enjoyed recording their favourite picture books for Miss T, Miss T has enjoyed listening to all the stories and has even had a go at saying the words herself which was incredibly cute!

You can find out more about Sparkup from their website, www.sparkupreader.com, and it is available for sale from all good retailers.

Disclosure: We were sent a Sparkup Reader to review. We were also sent a copy of Dinosaur Roar to try out with the Sparkup. All opinions are our own.


  1. As long as it doesn't make granny redundant!

    1. of course it won't. It would be great to have some granny recorded books for Miss T to listen too. She was asking to 'talk to granny' today. She misses your voice. xxx


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