Figuring out ways to share great music with your kids that doesn’t involve touching your phone can be challenging. And while we at Fatherly strongly recommend having a turntable in the house, and making sure your children know how to flip an actual record, we also understand it’s not 100 percent practical all the time. Plus, if you are hoping that all vintage read-a-along book-and-record sets are as good as you imagine, the reality is, that they often are not, at all.
So, let’s say you want your kid to able to mainline some classic rock, but also have an audio device that gives them educational material, audiobooks, and more. Well, you’ve probably heard of the tonie boxes, which are great. However, if you’re a Beatles family looking for a more music-centric, and slightly slicker audio set-up, we have to strongly recommend Yoto.
Full disclosure, I was sent some Yoto samples to review, and honestly, I was a bit skeptical at first. We have a tonie and we like it okay. So, I wondered why my daughter needed another audio device. Didn’t this accomplish the same thing as the tonie? The answer is, no, it’s not really like the tonie at all, because the tonie is seemingly best for very little kids. A Yoto player, on the other hand, is the kind of audio thing that can grow with your kid. With easy-to-use and intuitive nobs that both control volume or change tracks, a Yoto is the kind of retro-futuristic audio thingamabob we all assumed we’d be getting back in the '70s or '80s. The simple, blocky digital display is pleasant, and the audio cards are uncomplicated. In some ways, the functionality feels as if a classic Nintendo was turned into a portable boombox.
But the retro-futuristic simplicity of Yoto isn’t the only reason why it’s great. It’s also just easy as hell for a kid to understand how to use it on their own. Plus, as mentioned, there’s an equal emphasis on audiobooks and music. In addition to great cards that cover the catalog of Queen, Yoto also has slick new audio cards for the Beatles' “Red” and “Blue” retrospective albums. In fact, although it may sound blasphemous for a turntable-head like me to admit it, these are not the worst ways to introduce your kids to The Beatles. (And certainly preferable to just playing songs off of your phone.)
Yoto has rolled out a Yoto-mini player, but the Beatles audio cards — and tons of fantastic audiobooks — work just as well on the classic, larger, Yoto, version 3, player. There’s also a nice built-in white noise option, too.
So, if you’re looking for a unique gift that will last beyond a specific birthday or holiday, Yoto is a rare example of a gimmick that delivers simplicity and coolness. Because, if certain parents are anything like me, they may find themselves using the Yoto when the kids aren’t home. Physical media is a nice antidote to the constant pull of screentime, and for kids and parents alike, the Yoto provides a novel and down-to-Earth listening option.