Letterland leaps off the page

Nicola Jones

THE LETTERLAND STORY VIDEO. HarperCollinsAstrion Pounds 9.99. 52 minutes.

Alphabet friezes were the main learning aids for the alphabet when I started reading. Now there is a multi-sensory approach which can encompass video, computer software and audio tapes, as well as more traditional methods.

The Letterland Story video turns all the letters of the alphabet into characters and animates them into a story, featuring the voice of Josie Lawrence.

Each of the characters in the story has a name relating to a letter, to help children recognise the letter sounds. There are characters such as Ticking Tess, Naughty Nick, Oscar Orange and Sammy Snake. The story is rather an odd one. One day the letters discover that the children can't see them for the colourful characters they really are, but only as black letters on a page. This makes it difficult for children to read, so the letters want to find a doorway into the land beyond the page to solve the problem.

The letters are fun and watching them animated into characters will help children's recognition. However, I found that after watching this video, some letters remained in my head more than others. For instance, I could remember the W for witch quite easily and the Q for the Quarelsome Queen, because they were baddies in the story.

I was concerned to hear the letters say that reading is difficult and felt this was a pity in a video designed to help children become positive about reading.

The video comes in four sections and the young children who watched it with me enjoyed it and were able to remember several letters afterwards. And I can still recall every picture on my alphabet frieze.

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