My Virtual Tutor: Reading is a dream come true for educators and parents alike. Anyone with a child in grades first through second will revel in this educational, fun, and user-friendly DS game. I have a seven-year-old daughter in second grade and when I saw this game available, I instantly jumped for it. I was not in the least bit disappointed. For some reason (I think it was due to my/Mom's urging) my daughter did not grab this game and go running for her DS. After a couple of nudges, I finally sat down with it myself to see what it was all about.
Within the game, there are categories"Books," "Phonics," and "Quiz". The "Books" category contains a number of different books to choose from. Once a title is chosen, you will be taken to a screen that will give you the option to have the tutor read the story to you, explore the story, you, yourself, read the story out loud to the DS microphone, and paint. In "read to me" mode, the virtual tutor will read the story aloud, highlight each word she is reading in an incredibly easy- to-follow-along way. In "Explore" mode, the tutor will read lines from the story and then ask questions about what she read. They are simple questions, but truly aid in reading comprehension and the ability to focus and concentrate on what is being read. The "I can read" mode is just that. The tutor reads a sentence, then the player reads it back while recording on the game. Then the player gets to hear themselves reading the sentence. This is a very cool option and one that my daughter loves! Within this mode there are also simple spelling questions such as three letters will appear "nda" and the tutor will ask the player to spell "and". The player then proceeds to do so. "Paint" mode is a fun little bonus that allows the player to be creative with art tools; drawing, stamping, etc while the tutor reads the story aloud.
Back at the main menu, there is "Phonics" which also includes several sub-categories. There is "starts" which has several words that cross the screen and the tutor asks the player to choose all the words that start with a particular letter. In this mode, there is "tutor" and "challenge". In "tutor", the player does not have to worry about mistake penalties, however in "challenge" mode, after three wrong answers, you lose the game. "Rhymes" works the same way, the only difference is that instead of picking words that start with a certain letter, the tutor asks the player to pick words that rhyme with a certain word. There is also a "tutor" and "challenge" option in this section as well. In "contains" the player picks words that contain a certain letter requested by the tutor. "Sound out" mode gives a list of six words. The tutor asks the player to find the word she says. As time passes, a word will disappear, making the choices less and easier for beginning readers.
The final main category on My Virtual Tutor: Reading is "Quiz". In this mode, nine colored blocks will appear on the screen. Players are asked to pick a square, then the tutor will read a question and if it is answered correctly, a part of a picture will appear beneath that square. If a question is answered incorrectly, players are encouraged to continue trying until they come up with the correct answer. Once all squares are gone and the picture is revealed, this is stored within the players prize vault.
Needless to say, I love this game. Once my daughter tried it out, she was instantly hooked. She loves all of the different activities available and I love the fact that it is fun and educational. Also, a huge pro, is the fact the the tutor is incredibly encouraging, an aspect that is so important in learning. If at any time the player does not get an answer correct or misreads a sentence, she is highly encouraging. Throughout the entire game, she says words of praise that makes the player/child want to continue.
Parents are also able to keep track of how well their child is doing within the "Parent" mode which is under "options" from the main screen. A record of what the child has done and their accomplishments in "Books" and "Phonics" is kept track of. I was quite pleased with this little extra.
Both my daughter and I give this game five stars and I hope that they will come out with additional subjects in this line, such as math and science. Please note that in addition to first and second grade, there is also pre-kindergarten to kindergarten and kindergarten to first grade versions of the game. I cannot think of a better or funner way to help kids learn to read!
My Virtual Tutor: Reading First Grade to Second Grade is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.