interactive books hallmark

I can’t tell you how amazed I am at the level of reading the girls, this year they have come on in leaps and bounds, we read the school reading books most evenings and then we also read a story together before lights out. It’s a moment we all treasure and one that sooner or later I’ll have to give up as they get to grips with reading on their own for joy, for the pure pleasure of reading.

I love reading and it was always going to be a passion I passed on to the twins, I remember when they were still 6 months old and rolling on the floor, I’d lay in between them and open a picture board book, pointing out the words and pictures to them, I could already see their interest.

They have always had books around them and learnt really early on to respect them, very few got torn and none were drawn on which is pretty amazing.

We have our favourites, The Gruffalo for one and The Twelve Dancing Princesses another but we rotate our books reading a different one every day, in my opinion a bit of repetition works well too as they start to remember the stories and this in turn helps with their own reading.

I am 100% sure that making reading such a huge part of our daily routine from such a young age has helped significantly with their learning to read so well.

Presented with books in Reception year they took to them immediately and enjoyed the process, they leapt through the reading stages and today they are on Gold Level reading books that are interesting and include ‘tricky’ words. I am so proud of them!

ORT reading levels

We have recently been sent a couple of Hallmark’s latest interactive Storybooks All Aboard and A Day at Fairy Grandmother’s to review and I knew the minute I saw the girls eyes light up as they turned them on they were going to love them.

All Aboard - Hallmark

The books are beautifully illustrated and the reading is simple to follow.

By pressing the on button at the start of the book, the book starts talking to you with music and sounds that are appropriate to the book you are reading, All Aboard for example starts with a train horn blowing and the friendly conductor Connor saying ‘I’m ready to read with you.’

As you read the font changes colour, one font for your bits and a different colour font is when the book picks up what you’re saying and joins in with extra speech or noises to reflect that part of the story. It’s important to read this part as clearly as possible. There were a couple of times we needed to repeat the phrase to encourage the book to join in and on one occasion we skipped ahead as the book didn’t recognise its cue.

a day at fairy grandmother's

The twins loved it, they were marvelled at the book reading with them, you should have seen the smiles and looks of wonder on their faces.

I think these books have a great story line, the children love the fact the book ‘talks’ to them and joins in with the story so they are fantastic for encouraging reading and showing it can be lots of fun RRP: £14.99

Abigail Story Buddy HallmarkAbigail is the latest Story Buddy from the Hallmark range and she is the softest, fluffiest and cutest rabbit ever. Very girly and very adorable

She arrived last week and has been read every day since. She gets swopped from one twin to the other on a daily basis as she teaches them to share as well as listen to her story and they adore her as much as they love Watson the Racoon and Jingle the Christmas Story Buddy.

The concept is very simple, Abigail responds to certain sentences that can be easily picked out in the book as they are written in a different colour. When a clear adult voice reads these phrases, Abigail will pipe in with her contribution to the story bringing delighted smiles to the little listeners as they are tickled pink by the idea of a talking softie who adds to the story. Abigail responds to clear voices and may not pick up the quieter, softer tones of young children.

Abigail helps tell three stories and we were sent Abigail and The Balance Beam which is really quite fitting as the girls have just completed their first term of gymnastics at our local club and adore it. (and they each have their first medal #proudmum)

Abigail story buddy hallmarkHer story is an important one of wanting to do things that big people do, in this case walk a beam, and although she finds it very difficult she doesn’t give up and is very pleased to win a prize for her effort and achievement.

This is something I’m very willing to teach the girls as life is hard, it doesn’t always come easy but we have to at least try and give it our best shot! I’d like them to feel that they can have a go at anything and as long as they’ve done their best then they have been successful. I’d like them to see that the trying is part of the fun.

Abigail and the Balance Beam can be bought for £19.99 at Hallmark and makes a perfect educational alternative to chocolate at Easter!

Hallmark story buddyHallmark have come up with a fabulous idea that cannot fail but to impress children. A cuddly toy who joins in the reading of a story on cue! A Story Buddy.

We were contacted a while ago asking if we’d like to review a Hallmark Story Buddy and as reading is a night time ritual for us and one the girls (and daddy) really enjoy I thought we’d see what these little guys were all about. I was informed that one was being posted out to us but one week later there was no sign of the little guy.

I got on the case and wrote an email concerned for his/her safety Where was our Story Buddy? What had happened to them? And we were sent another who arrived two days later – Ta-dah! Enter = Watson the Racoon.

Just opening the box and discovering a cuddly toy was enough for my girls but when they learnt that he talked simply by touching the button in his ear they were hooked. Then when we got the book out and laid together on the floor with Watson to read his story they were captivated.

What a brilliant invention! As I read the story to the girls there are certain phrases within the story that are typed in a different colour to allow the reader to make room for Watson to join in with his own delightful snippets.

Now my two love a story but like all little ones sometimes their attention can stray, a chirpy chappie like Watson brings them right back to the story as he does the unexpected – He Talks!

They were amazed at his clever interventions, they listened to him and laughed gleefully that he was telling them a story PLUS they paid extra special attention to the story to make sure they didn’t miss a word of what Watson the Racoon had to say.

Watson the Racoon, a soft and gentle guy, has been an enormous hit since the moment he stepped out of his box. He has ‘turns’ in the girls’ beds being passed from one bed to the other on a daily basis but he takes it all in his stride and does his best to share himself equally between them. I have immense respect for him and honestly don’t mind sharing my stage with him, he’s cute and serious and I have also had the chance to ask him about his fellow Story Buddy, Does he know what has happened? Was there some secret mission we didn’t know about? Because to this day there is a Story Buddy out there MISSING.

Watson hasn’t been very forthcoming, maybe he just doesn’t know but can you all keep your eyes peeled as he most definitely didn’t turn up here. Now maybe he’s on a secret mission or maybe he’s been kidnapped for ransom, or maybe he wanted to go on a cheeky jaunt by himself to get his next story and got lost so I ask ladies and gentlemen could you please keep your eyes peeled and if you should see a Story Buddy around acting strangely them comment below and we’ll send out a search party.

In the meantime to get a better idea of what these guys look like and what they can do, have a look at our short video here, the lighting is low as it’s night time but Watson really does take centre stage