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July 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 7
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Infant/Toddler: Babies Read TV

Roundtable Split on DVD That Brings Words to the Screen


“It takes a little effort to see a result, so it is really rewarding when we see progress.” Diana del Pozo, mother of JoJo
This month, TDmonthly Magazine’s Infant/Toddler Roundtable participants evaluated Smart Kids — Your Baby Can Read! from PENTON OVERSEAS INC. The series received mixed reviews on its educational approach, quality and entertainment value. However, since the series is designed to be used over a period of 5 months, TDmonthly will check back later to see how opinions have changed.

Participating were Penelope Pauley, mother of Lucy (3); Christy Chambers, mother of Nigel (2); Diana del Pozo, mother of JoJo (1); and Sharri Hefner, mother of Sydney (11 months).

TDmonthly rating:



Smart Kids - Your Baby Can Read! by PENTON OVERSEAS INC.
Age: 0 to 5
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Educational
MSRP: $79.95

What It Is: A series of instructional DVDs designed to teach babies and toddlers to read in five months.

What the Moms Thought
Christy, mom to Nigel (2), and Penelope, mom to Lucy (3), were appalled to learn from the packaging that the product encouraged children as young as 3 months to sit in front of a television. Diana, mom to JoJo (1), and Sharri, mom to Sydney (11 months), had the opposite reaction: They were excited to see that even infants could be taught to read.

However, once the moms played the DVDs, some attitudes changed. Penelope, who rated it a “3,” warmed a little to the product when she noticed the kid-friendly approach. She liked the use of the children’s voices and the choice of images. Sharri was disappointed by the low production value, as most of the images looked like they’d come from home videos. Christy, Penelope and Sharri did not agree with the learning techniques presented in the DVD series. They feel that reading should be taught by interacting with a child, not by sitting him or her in front of a television for 20 minutes twice per day. On the other hand, Diana, mom to JoJo (1), really enjoyed watching the video with her daughter. She felt the slow, soothing tone of the presentation made it easy for JoJo to follow along and learn. “It takes a little effort to see a result,” Diana said, “so it is really rewarding when we see progress.” She gave the product a “5.”

What the Kids Said
Lucy (3) liked the animals, songs and babies. Much to her mom’s chagrin, she asked to watch the video again. Nigel (2) and Sydney (11 months) did not respond to the DVDs at all. Nigel lost interest after a few minutes and then asked his mom to turn it off. Christy therefore rated the product a “0.” Sydney cried when she grew bored, watching for no more than 10 minutes at a time, and her mom gave the series a “3.” JoJo (1) liked the kids in the video. The images and large font also caught her attention.

What the Kids Learned
JoJo (1) learned a few words while watching the video. Sydney (11 months) learned how to wave. Lucy (3) learned the differences in the words on her very first viewing. Nigel (2) did not learn while watching the video, as he did not enjoy watching it. However, the families only had a few weeks with the DVDs and the total program requires a five-month commitment.

How to Improve It
Diana, mom to JoJo (1), thought that the product would be more effective if the words were repeated more often and more slowly. The moms really appreciated the included flash cards, as they encouraged interaction with their kids. If the product relied less on the instructional video and more on the well-designed flash cards, which serve as an excellent resource for teaching word recognition, Sharri would be happier with the product.

Would You Buy Another Toy Like This?
Christy, Penelope and Sharri said they definitely would not buy another product like this one. Diana, mother to JoJo (1), said she definitely would buy another one like this, as well as recommend it to other mothers.



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Sharri HefnerWriter's Bio: Sharri is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Most recently, Sharri wrote a one act titled "Spice" for Gene Rhee’s "The Trouble With Romance," which stars David Eigenberg ("Sex and the City"). "Georgia Heat," a script Sharri wrote with fellow NYU alum Mora Stephens, is slated for production Summer 2007 (Janet Yang, Executive Producer). Sharri received her MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Before NYU, Sharri was graduated summa cum laude from California State, Long Beach. While Sharri was completing her thesis, USAToday selected her as one of the top college students in the country. Sharri is the proud mom of Sydney, who was born in June 2006. Read more articles by this author

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