I was that kid, the one who would disappear under the coffee table with a book for hours at a time, according to my mother. Books were my passion, my refuge. And I assumed that if I surrounded my own children with books from day one, if we read bedtime stories every night and made reading a priority, they would love books as much as I do.
So I did, and so far, they do. We have books on our shelves, on the floor, on the couch, in our beds. So when I received a Scholastic “Storybook Treasures” DVD set, (My First Collection Featuring Splat the Cat), I was quite curious, and I must admit that my main question was, this looks nice, but why watch the DVD when you can read the book? (And my feelings about “screen time” really have nothing to do with it–some days we watch several hours of TV around here, other times we go a week or two without watching at all).
Here’s the thing about reading, though, that I didn’t realize when my children were infants and I was purchasing books left and right. Reading, in our household, has taken many forms in the past five-and-a-half years. When my boys were babies, I had a captive audience, as I would read to them when they were in their cribs. As they’ve grown, we’ve gone through phases when we’ve read for at least an hour before bedtime. Other times my boys are too busy playing with their trains or engaging in whatever their current favorite activity is, and I don’t force the issue. Right now they get stories at bedtime, but they’re not read by me. My advanced reader wants to read them all by himself. My emerging reader does, too, and I listen as he points at the text in a story and more or less invents his own story based on the book.
We watched the DVDs over a few days, starting with “The Napping House,” one of our favorite stories ever. The words to the story were lit up at the bottom of the screen (an option you can turn on or off), and we listened to the story being narrated with pleasant music in the background (in most instances, I found the narration and the background music to be just right). “The Napping House” had no animation, just close-ups of the beautiful artwork from the story at the appropriate times. Other stories were animated (though the animation was usually low-key). I found I preferred the older stories with no animation, but my children didn’t seem to care.
There is a good combination of old and new stories in the set. It was nice to see the familiar ones included, and my boys were intrigued by the new ones (my own favorite was “Duck on a Bike,” by David Shannon). They were more taken by the stories than I expected. When we watched made a difference, though–I played one DVD one afternoon while I puttered around and they were easily distracted by all the other things there were to do on a beautiful Friday afternoon. But then we spent one evening curled up on the couch as we watched some of the stories together, and I’d argue that that’s just how they were meant to be watched–together. My boys were full of spontaneous remarks–¡Pajaritos! ¡Mira, mariposas! ¡Un señor tocando un tambor!–much like they are when we read together.
One of the bonus features is a Spanish-language version of “The Story of Ping,” which I was really excited about watching. I thought both the narration and the translation of the story were lovely, though I was disappointed that captioning was not an option when playing the version in Spanish. Also, watching it only made me want more–if there were an entire set of stories available in Spanish, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat.
I do like that you can watch the whole DVD, or just one or two stories at a time (each story is about ten minutes long), to suit any attention span. The series is aimed at children aged 2 to 6, and at five-and-a-half, I agree that my boys will outgrow it soon–the perfect age group might be more like 2 to 5.
While this DVD set will never be a substitute for reading stories together, I could easily see a place for it in our household as a nice complement to our traditional bedtime stories, despite my initial skepticism. The music and narration are so soothing, just right for bedtime, the stories are a nice antidote to some of the shows we usually watch, and I can see us re-watching these upstairs, under the covers, while I sit back with a cup of tea.
One winner will receive a Scholastic Storybook Treasures: My First Collection, Featuring Splat the Cat.
To enter just leave a comment telling us which of the 14 stories in the collection are you most excited about watching. You can go here to check out the full list.
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This giveaway ends Sunday, May 22nd at midnight EST and is open to everyone over 18 years of age. Check out the Giveaway Rules.
Disclosure: We received a copy for review purposes. All opinions are our own.