Home > Jump start vs Reader rabbit.

Jump start vs Reader rabbit.

January 19th, 2008 at 06:11 pm

Being a computer geek family we always want to play games for kids and adults. Being an education minded homeschooling family, we try to find educational games to fill that desire. (at least for the kids)

Over the years I have learned a thing or two about the two 'big name' computer games. I thought I would share, for anyone interested in buying one or the other. Don't go suing me if your game differs, I am just a mom.

Reader Rabbit generally has a simple plot with basic skills covered in the course of a mission. At 3rd grade RR becomes 'Clue Finders'. The same company makes both, just the characters on the screen change (and the missions require more work).

Todays versions 'auto level' quite well, meaning if your kid answers right enough times in a row, the difficulty of questions will bump up. Most of the time the questions get harder...rarely more computer skill is needed. Older versions required more 'game skills'. But as I buy newer and newer versions I find my kids can handle the mouse clicks all by themselves. Since I buy games for younger kids this is VERY important. RR/CF games also offer an option to change levels yourself, so if I know my kid is good at a subject I can bump him up immediately. Newer versions will record if your child has tried a level and had difficulty with it.

The skills covered for each 'grade' seem about on par with what I would teach for a grade. (They also match up to many text books such as Singapore math, or Abecka reading) Level one being a bit too easy, and level 4 being a bit challenging. Perfect for a kid who is excelling in one area, but rusty in another.

On a non educational note, RR/CF games tend to have different voices for different games...unless you have listened to the same voice encourage your kid to click something for 30 minutes straight you have no idea how wonderful it is to hear a different voice! The graphics on the other hand seem generations behind adult games. Total game play varies, with the 'lower grades' having less. We have not beat a game in less than 2 hours, and one took closer to 10 or 15. (multiple sessions of course) My kids who do not get to play console games, don't seem to mind the graphics, and will replay the games to beat them on harder levels.

We are a RR/CF family, we own one for every level my kids are on (3 kids 3 different games of course)


Jump start seems to have too many 'arcade' skills necessary to beat a game. One game required 'skateboarding' down a street to move from one area to another. Unfortunately younger children still look at the arrow keys before knowing if they will go up or down! The graphics to match these fancy arcade games are only a step or two down from adult games...often looking like a cheap console game, instead of a ancient scroll game. The most recent JS game I found was a 'world' where the walking is 'dynamic' meaning your character moves and the screen 'flows' as opposed to older style screens that had the character move one frame at a time. Pretty, but harder to control for a younger child.

Jump start used to have harder skill sets, nice if you don't want your 5 year old playing 6th grade games. But I am not certain of that any more. The last game we bought was a first grade game, and it still has nothing challenging for my daughter. (she is smart, but not that smart)

JS games have a different system of leveling, most of the time the arcade skill gets harder not the educational questions. Since I want the kids to answer without my bias, I hate having to be the one in charge of the mouse.

The most recent JS game we tried was a the JS world, where winning a race is part of completing the mission. I of course had to race for my 4 year old. While she didn't mind, I do! I fail to understand the importance of a first grader racing. No not racing to answer math first, just racing to move your character from point A to point B faster than the computer. Nothing against racing games, but I see no need to force my 4 year old to figure them out! (I do know many 4 year olds who can race quite well, I also know more who cannot)

JS games also tend to have the same voice through out the game that reminds you you are playing (I hate computer 'are you there' reminders!)

The levels are often static, meaning not only that I cannot change them for my children. But also in order to beat the game you must be able to perform ALL the skills. While I am all for requiring children to know a certain skill set before graduation, I do not hold playing a game to the same standards. So long as a kid can perform on level one, they aught to be able to win (and if they can't you have the wrong grade - or too many arcade skills needed)

JS games would be better for a family of 'console gamers'. If your kid can beat x-box racing games, they will prolly want the better graphics of JS, and enjoy the arcade side trips.

3 Responses to “Jump start vs Reader rabbit.”

  1. flyladyrocks Says:

    Thanks so much for this great review! I homeschool and am wanting to get some computer software for my kids and you helped me make the decision the get Reader Rabbit! You seem to be on the same wavelength as me!

  2. Dawn Says:

    Thank you so much for the comparison. I've been looking everywhere for a comparison of the two and didn't want to waste money on the wrong one. It sounds like my initial thoughts about Reader Rabbit are right and that will be the one I go with.

  3. Zoe Says:

    I know this is very late, as this is from 2008 and I am first commenting in 2016, but I want to give MY opinion on Reader Rabbit and Jump Start, not from a parents perspective, but from the perspective of a kid that grew up playing both Jump Start and Reader Rabbit. I was born in 2001 and I started playing both Reader Rabbit and Jump Start around the age of 4. Personally, I prefer Jump Start. Not all Jump Start games require "arcade skills" such as racing. I've played both regular 2-D Jump Start and Jump Start World, and there's plenty of 2-D Jump Start games that don't require arcade skills. The very first Jump Start games I ever played were "Jump Start Preschool: Fundamentals" and "Jump Start Preschool: Language Club", and neither of those games required arcade skills. I have played all 3 Jump Start World games: Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 2nd grade, and I personally prefer them over the 2-D Jump Start games, but that's most likely because I was 6 years old when I started playing, and very good with computers, and your child was only 4. I beat the race part on my first try, again this was most likely because I was 2 years older than your child when I played it. Don't get me wrong, I genuinely LOVE Reader Rabbit, but Jump Start is definitely more nostalgic for me and a lot more fun in my opinion. Maybe you just didn't find the right Jump Start games that suited your child best, there's tons of them and I'm sure there's plenty of them that aren't THAT great compared to other ones.

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