The last few computer/video game retrospectives that I have written have all been working around the ClueFinders educational series. These games were designed to entertain and educate students between 3rd Grade and 6th Grade, acting as both late elementary school and middle school prep games. But before I ever played the ClueFinders series, my sister and I were introduced to an entirely different educational video game series. One focused far more on an even younger demographic, kindergartners and first graders. I am, of course, discussing the Reader Rabbit series.
In fact, it was through the Reader Rabbit franchise that my generation can lay claim to first true "educational video game" generation. We were the first to have video games and digital media form a core and essential part of our educational experience and preparatory work (as our school sold Reader Rabbit and ClueFinders games at the end of every year for students to play over the summer and prepare themselves for the next grades content ahead of time). Focusing on a variety of simple grammar and mathematics work, Reader Rabbit worked to provide a fun and simple way to slowly introduce children to concepts that they would further explore during school, a setup that was widely successful and led to The Learning Company (the production company) to become the name in educational gaming.
And while my personal emotional connection is tied far more to Reader Rabbit 2nd Grade (due to my memories of its more heartwarming story), I feel it is a tremendous disservice to the legacy of this franchise to not start with the first major computer game that my sister and I ever played together. A game which, while simple, did fantastic work in setting up kids for the world of Reader Rabbit, even if my sister and I only ever played two games in the series before we were transitioned into the ClueFinders.
Released in 1998 by The Learning Company, let's look back at Reader Rabbit: 1st Grade.