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**REVIEW** Smithsonian Interactive Library

Here's what I am learning about my gift-buying talents: I pick wonderful gifts but I pair them to the wrong people...

This is something I picked up a few months back (for a great price) at Costco:




That's the Smithsonian Interactive Library.  There was no clear marking of suggested age levels when I bought it, but I checked out the Amazon product page and see that it's "perfect for children aged 6-10". What I want to know is who are these brilliant six-year-olds? Where are they? DJ is only 5, but I don't think that he will be ready to really get into this gift until he's about 7 or 8.

Let me back up and tell you more about this product. Here's what you get for the price ($40 at Costco and $100 on Amazon)

  1. A really cool SD-X Reader pen to hear audio and interact with pages of the books.
  2. 6 interactive books.
Yeah. Glad that I got the Costco price.

Actually, the set is worth the $100 if you have a more diligent (or precocious) kid. I think that DJ would love this is the voices of the narrators were a little more animated. When I heard the voices, I was reminded of those museum tours with the slightly bored guide who is thinking of changing careers. That's fine for an older person who really wants to dig into the information. For a child like DJ who can't sit still long enough to sing the preschool class song, it's a little big of a challenge. (We are working with the little mister on his attention span, by the way.)



The books are interesting - as is the interactive information provided. The pen is very cool and is the one thing that might hold DJ's attention. It's a tiny bit like the Livescribe smartpen I use for writing and recording. Except the SD-X is limited to interaction with the books. I found that adjusting the volume (with interactive book buttons) was tricky. Either the included batteries are weak or the volume doesn't go very high.



The included books in this set are:
  • Natural History (DJ will love the dinosaurs)
  • Great Americans
  • American Experience 
  • Animals
  • Space
  • Air
I was pleased to see the range of topics covered. In the American Experience volume, slavery, the Vietnam War and, oddly, "Disability in America" are included.

When I picked this up at Costco, I did see similar sets. On Amazon, I see that Brittanica has sets covering various areas and there are probably other sets at local bookstores. Shop around for the best price. Like I said, I scored by getting this one at Coscto.

Other choices from different Sellers
I'm not sorry that I got this, but I do wish I had looked around for something more currently age-appropriate for DJ. I will work with him to take an interest in this set, but it is going to be a little bit of work. This would have been the perfect gift for the 13-year old daughter of a friend. 

This year, I congratulated myself for shopping early and more frugally. Next year, I want to top myself by doing better at matching gifts to people.

Peace
--Free

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