Last week Monday was a school holiday. That night my daughter came down with a fever and was home from school for 3 days. That’s total of 4 days that one of us had to stay home from work because we have no back up childcare. The first morning with my sick baby, I had no idea how I was going to get any work done. Then, I remembered a gift we received, the Habbi Habbi Reading Wand!
The previous week, I was away for work and left the box sitting on the dining table. I can’t believe the kids did not tear it apart while I was away! I opened the box to reveal the neatly packed Habbi Habbi starter set, which includes a reading wand and four hardcover books— First Words, First Phrases, Emotions, and Careers—written in English, Simplified Chinese, and Pinyin.
It’s All in the Details
The books’ vibrant covers (hardcover!) and pages are finished with a matte coating, a more sophisticated look compared to the high gloss printing of most children’s books. As a mom of messy kids I’m thinking it will be easy to clean sticky fingerprints off of the smooth satiny finish.
The Habbi Habbi Reading Wand came charged out of the box, a nice touch! Any parent knows the disappointed look when a kid opens a toy but has to wait hours to use it. The wand is designed with only 3 buttons for intuitive usability, just turn it on and tap anywhere in the book to hear words, phrases, and music. My 3 year old knew exactly what to do with no instruction needed because every part of the book is tappable!
Learning Chinese Without Mom
The next day she was still sick and it was Dad’s turn to stay home. He reported that she spent most of the day, on and off, with her new toy. She reported that Dad spent most of the day napping on the couch! When I came home she shared the new phrases she learned from the books. Some of the vocabulary was new to me too! This means that she was learning Chinese while at home with her English speaking parent. AND NO SCREEN TIME!
I notice that my daughter repeats what the Reading Wand says and even answers when the wand asks a question. So not only is she learning by hearing, she’s practicing speaking as well. The Habbi Habbi Reading Wand engages children to touch, look, listen, and speak, all senses and skills that help with learning retention.
The books are written in English, Pinyin, and Simplified Chinese, with audio in both languages with proper pronunciation and tones. The contemporary illustrations are thoughtfully inclusive, with characters of all colors, gender, and capabilities. Each book has an intentional message—Feelings teaches children to understand their emotions, Careers turns moms into strong female role models.
Habbi Habbi Reading Wand Quality
It’s been several days now and my daughter is still enjoying the books. Ours is not a home for fragile books. Our books get thrown, stepped on, colored, and chewed! Although the kids have been using the books and wand daily for hours, they seem to be sturdy and will hold up to their less than gentle hands. This is a great starter Reading Wand to introduce to younger children.
- Adjustable Volume – the loudest is very loud!
- Books are sturdy and well made
- Cute illustrations – My favorite characters are the shapes
- Clear voice that is easy to understand
- Instant feedback anywhere you tap – great for toddlers that tap for fun!
- Nice packaging – great for gifting
- Promotes independent learning without screen time
- Rechargeable – no batteries needed!
- One wand will work with all current and future publications (in any of the languages they release!), which means you only need one wand.
- Star shaped wand won’t roll off the table
- Wand shuts off when not in use
- Headphone jack – My daughter loves to hear the same phrase over and over. It was driving me mad, but guess what? Thank goodness there’s a headphone jack!
There are so many reading pens on the market now but Habbi Habbi is the only bilingual English/Chinese option that I could find that focuses on learning Mandarin. The English and Mandarin audio are spoken by native speakers. While there are reading pens from China and Taiwan that have some bilingual features, they are generally meant for English learning, but the English pronunciation is poor. If you know of another bilingual reading pen option besides Habbi Habbi, please let me know.
Reading Pen Comparison
Here is a brief comparison of reading pens for learning Mandarin that I find are most often discussed in the online groups I follow. These are also products I own or consider adding to our collection.
C-pen, while the most flexible option, because you can add your own audio files and even record your own voice, it requires a lot of your time to upload the files and add stickers. The instructions are written in Chinese and difficult to figure out. C-pen does produce flashcards that work with their pen and we use them all the time as part of our learning program.
巧虎 Ciaohu’s subscription is a service I have been considering for a while. Each delivery includes a magazine and activities tailored for your child’s age. Please note, Ciaohu books are intended for local Taiwanese and Chinese children, so there will be no English instructions. The pens only work with the books it comes with. How can you keep track of all the pens and magazines?!
LeLe’s learning systems receives high praise from many parents, but the cost is too high for many. I’ve heard from other parents that a delay that makes the pen frustrating to use.
Food超人/Food Superman‘s toys are fun and love by both my kids. We have several interactive books by Food超人, but the quality is not the best so I worry the pens will not last very long with my destructive kids.
In my perfect world there would be one pen that has all the features I want! But for now, at least we have the option to buy multiple, but boy are all the options overwhelming! Some look cheaply made, the books have ugly illustrations, or text/audio mistakes. I mainly don’t trust the quality of all these new reading pens flooding the market. When buying a product from overseas there’s no guarantee of any support or warranty on the purchase. Don’t worry, be Habbi! Habbi Habbi’s headquarters are in California and they will respond to any inquiries you may have! They offer a 1 year warranty and even a 7-day return policy.
About Habbi Habbi
Another thing I love about Habbi Habbi is that the creators are moms just like you and me! The Reading Wand and books are designed by two friends that had an idea and the courage to bring it to life. Their Kickstarter campaign for the Habbi Habbi starter set was fully funded in just FOUR HOURS!
Where to Buy
Interested in the Habbi Habbi Reading Wand? You can buy a set, just the wand or individual books. They have a beautifully designed, easy to navigate website with answers to all your FAQs.
I was gifted the Habbi Habbi Reading Wand and books and have not received any compensation for this review. These are my thoughts and experiences with the product. Some products link to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This year I have earned $6 (enough for a cup of coffee) from Amazon and I must have this disclaimer nonetheless. But where are my manners? I should say, “thank you for the coffee!”