Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DVD review - Scholastic Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics

Harold and the Purple Crayon... and More Harold Stories (Scholastic Video Collection) [VHS]
In retrospect this set of DVDs was one of the best Christmas gifts we received last year. Thanks to my dear Sister-in-Law we now have hours of enjoyable classic children's literature on video. Less than two months of shopping days left, you know, so if you're looking for a good gift idea...I think the link above is the set we have, but if not it is similar enough to be equally well received.

We try not to let the children watch "a lot" of "TV". When we do it is always pre-recorded so that it comes to a definite end and there's less inclination to watch "just one more show." Now that my littles are in pre-school three days a week, we are watching even less, but it is still my go to when it's time to make dinner, or work on some project and the children are bouncing off the walls and each other. We also have a DVD player in our mini-van, and while we aren't doing much driving these days, when we do drive it is usually a 20 minute or so jaunt one way. Honestly I'd rather not break out the DVD player except for longer trips, but I have to admit that sometimes these family drives are an opportunity for adult conversation in front while the kids watch a video in the back. We also usually try to stick to "educational" shows...those that encourage some "interaction" etc, etc. Still with all of these conditions, boundaries, values and limits I feel nagging guilt sometimes that I am letting them have too much screen time.

Enter the Scholastic Treasury DVD set in our video library...and the guilt is considerably eased. Yes they are still watching "TV" but they are also being introduced to a lot of wonderful classic children's literature. Harold, as pictured above, with his magic purple crayon; Max, King of all Wild Things; George the Monkey; and Harry the Dirty Dog are just a few of the wonderful characters my children have met through these videos. Sometimes my daughter will see the book afterward at school or in the library and will be interested in reading it because she knows the story from the video. The stories are narrated and sometimes set to music. The images are often charming stills taken from the original books. The text of the story shows up in subtitles and changes color as the story is read so it encourages reading skills. They are pleasant for me to listen to. I've reacquainted myself with stories from my own childhood like "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears." (remember that one, Chris?) We keep several of these in the rotation on the DVD player in the minivan, and the stories are a good length for a longish errand. Many of these have become favorites. My daughter is particularly enchanted with the one that has primarily dog stories on it. I believe it is part of her ammunition to weaken my stance on waiting a few more years before we add a canine to our chaos. They appeal also to my little preschoolers, so in our experience 2.5 years and up find these quite fun.

The only odd thing about these is they interfere with the digital clock on the minivan DVD player. Normally after you start playing a DVD the time counter for the show is displayed for several seconds and then the display changes to the clock. With these DVDs unless you start from the beginning menu each time (not when we had to leave the car mid-story...un uh) the clock will not display. It's not great for when we're trying to get somewhere on time and I can't tell if I need to hit the fast lane or if we're actually prompt for a change. I can always glance at my watch instead, but it is less convenient. Somehow I doubt that other people will have this same issue...and seriously if that's the most negative thing I can say about these...really? If you don't already own them go get them. Follow the link to Amazon. Really.


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