LeapFrog has revealed its latest product aimed at improving the literacy of youngsters, the LeapReader. The pen-like device follows on from the Tag Reading System and works with a library of more than 150 reading, activity and audio-books, to teach children not only how to recognize and say letters or words, but also how to write them.

Operated in much the same way as the original, users touch letters and words in the specially printed books with the tip of the chunky pen to hear the sounds letters make and how words are pronounced. But while the previous device stopped with phonics and word recognition skills, the LeapReader also helps children learn how to write.

Aimed at four to eight-year-olds, this writing element sees youngsters follow simple vocal instructions via the built-in speaker to trace letters in the work books. As they do this, they're rewarded with flashing lights and sounds or words of encouragement. Parents will also be pleased to know that the LeapReader pen only writes on the special "mess-free" paper … meaning you don't need to sacrifice your walls for a more literate child.

The LeapReader device, which is backwards compatible with most Tag books, has enough storage space to hold the audio required for up to 40 books, or 175 songs at a time. Content is managed by connecting the pen via USB to a Mac or PC running the LeapFrog Connect Application for LeapReader.

There are currently more than 150 "learning experiences" available for the LeapReader, including books, audio books, flash cards, maps, learn-to-write sets, music albums and trivia challenges. LeapFrog has also worked with publishers to bring popular children’s characters to the LeapReader party, including Clifford and The Velveteen Rabbit.

The LeapFrog LeapReader will go on sale in June for a price of US$50 and be available in either pink or green.

Here's a quick video showing the LeapReader in action.

Source: LeapFrog