Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Caillou Ready to Read

Caillou Ready to Read

Spring 2008 Software
Ages: 2 - 6 yrs.
Price: $19.95
Platform: Windows/MAC
If you child doesn't know Caillou from the dozen or so previous Caillou learning software programs, he or she may know this animated wide-eyed 4-year-old little fella from the PBS kids' show of the same name, or maybe the books by Christine L'Heureux. In all of them, Caillou is all about preschool learning, exploring, having fun and being a kid.

In the manner of original edu-tainment software that fuses fun and education, this Caillou title tackles the most basic and early reading challenges-from learning and recognizing the letters of the alphabet and their sounds to beginning sight-reading and phonetics.

Actually this is two separate games packaged on one CD-the Alphabet Game and the Ready to Read Game. Both can be played in English, French or Spanish-meaning they can double as early foreign language learning. Both are graphically super simple with throwback animation so toned-down to be wholesomely elementary. No overblown bells and whistles, here, no sassy brat dialogue and no Star-Wars explosives. Just little round-headed Caillou learning.

Each of the 26 activities in the Alphabet Game pertains to one letter of the alphabet. From Apple Drop, where kids click on apples hanging in a tree that have a capital or lowercase "A" on them, to Zoo Stones, where they click on each "Z" in a letter maze to clear a path for Caillou, each simple little game teaches and reinforces letter learning. In the Ready to Read Game, kids select one of the five grown-up professions Caillou is considering-chef, astronaut, detective, hero or pirate. Each profession offers two word-reading games. Play as a chef and you help Caillou match simple rhyming words on cakes or match simple words with pictures on cookies. In the detective activity, it's matching various objects in a picture to a list of words. Super hero Caillou needs help flying through the clouds that have the letters starting a particular word. You get the idea.

Both the Alphabet and the Ready to Read games feature three skill levels, verbal prompts and positive encouragement, and cute Caillou songs. But this two-game package isn't completely original. Parents who've bought previous Caillou titles should note that The Alphabet Game first appeared in the 2004 Brighter Minds title Caillou Alphabet and was included in the 2006 Caillou Preschool Four Pack.

Also, depending on your child's reading-skill level, the Ready to Read activities may prove too challenging to true beginners or the youngest readers. Otherwise, this is simple software for kids to learn reading skills and a nice complement to parents reading nightly to their fledgling young readers-a practice no software can replace.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Brighter Minds Media, LLC
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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