Friday, March 2, 2012

TOS Crew: Reading Eggs/Reading Eggspress

Reading Eggs/Reading Eggspress is a website dedicated to reading, or rather, learning to read, aimed at children aged preschool to about 12 or 13. (Our 13yo was not terribly thrilled with the site, but more about that in a minute.)

My first impression wasn't all that favorable (as I said above, more about that in a minute), and I'm so glad I didn't run with that, but took the time to explore the site further. This review will deal with Reading Eggspress, the component for students who have already learned to read and just need to work on cementing those reading skills.

Youngest (the aforementioned 13yo) was in a contrary mood when I told her we'd be sitting down to look at the Reading Eggspress website. She had a bad attitude for most of our trial, only going to the site under duress and complaining the whole time. (Well, not outright complaining, but disparaging the graphics as "babyish" and the exercises as "stupid" -- it's a good thing there's a free trial so you can check out the website for two weeks for yourself!) Since I've watched her play FaceBook games with similar graphics, I couldn't understand her resistance, except maybe this website was academic in nature, and she's always been something of a reluctant reader.

Though she reads a lot these days for pleasure, it's mostly likely to be fiction, like old fashioned books (Horatio Alger, Louisa May Alcott) or modern fantasy (Narnia, Warrior Cats). Though Reading Eggspress has a whole library full of e-books to browse, the non-fiction selections look an awful lot like the books we check out from the library for research (which Middlest eats up, but Youngest resists reading), and the fiction wasn't to her taste, though there was a wide variety. There was one story she tried about an elf, but the pictures were too graphic; and another story that was a re-telling of an Aesop's fable, that she pronounced too babyish, and besides, there were exercises to be done and she really resented that.

In short, Youngest had a chip on her shoulder from the beginning, and while she's played such games online for fun, this was not the right time and place for this review.

In desperation, I sat down and signed on to her account and started working my way through the site. I found all sorts of features that would normally delight Youngest if she started with the right attitude. The site is heavily graphics driven; you have an avatar that moves through the virtual world. Reading Eggspress is a floating island, complete with an apartment high-rise (where your avatar has a home and shops), a library full of books, a gymnasium (for, you guessed it, exercising your reading muscles), a stadium where you can compete against the computer or other users).

When we first signed into Reading Eggspress, the site gave us a reading comprehension test. While I was expecting Youngest to pass such a test pretty handily (being at the top end of the age spectrum for the site), I was surprised to see her miss several questions, the type that appear on standardized tests. I thought, Well, maybe there's something here for her.

She began to explore the site, complaining the whole time (as I mentioned above). It was not fun because of her attitude. Later on, when she'd accumulated some eggs and we went to the virtual store to do some shopping, she forgot that she didn't like the site and was actually interested for a bit, in shaping her avatar's appearance and buying a pet and some furniture.

While exploring, I found exercises for dictionary skills, brain games, grammar and spelling practice, and of course, reading practice and comprehension. One nice feature is that the site gives the student a range of book choices for reading practice. I learned a lot, for example, about polar animals during my exploration!

Pricing and availability

More information, including links for the free two-week trial and subscription information for Reading Eggs is available at the Reading Eggs website. A one-year subscription is available for $75 for the first child (you can add additional children at a discounted price), or $9.95 a month.

I encourage you to check out the two-week free trial to see how it works for your young learner.

Read more TOS Crew reviews of Reading Eggs/Reading Eggspress at this link.

Disclaimer: Our family received one free three-month subscription to Reading Egss for review purposes. No additional compensation was involved.

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