December 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 12
Preschool Roundtable: Stories Worth Hearing
Classic and Updated Fairy Tales Capture Their Audience
Participants were World Bank policy advisor Gail Richardson with Alexander (7) and Jessica (5); stay-at-home mother Heather Jones with Reece (7), Cameron (6) and Meg (4); Shannon Harris with Tripp (6); sales executive Stephanie Kirby with Sarah (6) and Emma (5); and Assistant United States Attorney Jay Bratt and writer/editor Elise Yousoufian with Aaron (6) and Hanna (6).
Once Upon a Time - Sets Two and Three by CONFETTI ENTERPRISES INC.
Age: 3 to 8
Gender: Boys and Girls
What It Is: Each set contains four disks and four books of classic fairy tales that are modernized specifically to emphasize selected character traits (such as responsibility and honesty,) and a non-violent approach to problem-solving. Each set is narrated by Emmy-award winning actor Robert Guillaume and the Confetti Company Drama Club (comprising professional child actors).
What the Parents Thought
Jones liked that the compact disks and books were contained in one package, leaving little chance for separation. Richardson also appreciated that the organization of the packaging made it easy for children to use and neatly return the items to the package. "I also really loved that they used children’s voices — which is very unique among children’s CD stories,” she added. “I think my children became even more enamored with the collection because of that.”
Harris found narrator Robert Guillaume’s voice “very engaging.” And Kirby said, “You can’t beat a good story and you can’t beat anything that attracts children to sit quietly with a book in their laps. [It’s] a winner on both accounts.”
How the Kids Reacted
Jones’ children liked being able to “listen to books” independently, and enjoyed finding the differences between the classic stories and the updated versions included in these sets. Richardson's children listened to the books repeatedly, even at times “in our driveway listening to the end of a story.”
Yousoufian's children were enraptured by the stories. Kirby found that the contemporary twists, in addition to the musical scores and narration, added a “newness” to the classic fairy tales that kept her children very interested. “The minute one story ended, they wanted to launch into the next one … and then the next ….”
How to Improve It
Several moms enjoyed listening to Robert Guillaume narrate the stories but pointed out that this information, which could be a good selling point, was buried on the packaging.
Yousoufian recommended simplifying the font and text on the packaging to make it more readable by children. Jones suggested replacing the computerized graphics with hand-drawn graphics.
Photographs of children by ELISE YOUSOUFIAN
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Writer's Bio: Susan Ledford is the writer, editor and publisher of the "Homeschool Resources Directory for S.C." She has been evaluating toys and games for TDmonthly's Roundtable reviews since 2005. She also is a homeschool veteran of seven years. Read more articles by this author
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