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New DVD Hopes to Foster Reading

23 Feb, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Fisher-Price and Scholastic Entertainment are using DVD to inspire a love of reading in children with the launch of the “Read With Me” DVD line designed for kids 3 to 6.

The pages of a book turn on the TV screen, as the preschooler hits the appropriate buttons on a specially designed remote control. Periodically throughout the story, the narrative will stop and the page will offer a vocabulary and reading comprehension element. Kids can pick from multiple-choice questions about the story and learn definitions and synonyms of particular words.

“We want it to be entertaining and storytelling, but at the same time, we want to accelerate reading comprehension and expand vocabulary,” said Kevin Curran, SVP and general manager of Fisher-Price Friends, the arm of the toy company that focuses on entertainment properties.

Fisher-Price is no stranger to interactive learning products, but Curran said this is the first to really focus on reading comprehension and vocabulary.

“These are very important building blocks for preschoolers,” he said. “We think that using this DVD will help encourage a lifelong love of reading.”

Fisher-Price came up with the idea, Curran said, and went to Scholastic to help provide the stories because of the publisher's strong reputation for and handling of children's book classics.

The first title in the new interactive DVD series is Where the Wild Things Are, which debuted at Toy Fair last weekend. By August, more titles will be on store shelves, Curran said, with “Read With Me” DVDs for Green Eggs and Ham, The Little Engine That Could, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Curious George, Miss Spider's Tea Party, Corduroy, Giraffes Can't Dance and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

The “Read With Me” starter package comes with Where the Wild Things Are story DVD and the customized remote for $39.99. Additional titles will be priced at $14.99 each.

The DVDs also have two other viewing options: a setting that lets the story continue uninterrupted and a mode that turns of the audio and allows the child to read the story out loud as the pages of the book turn on the screen.

Runtime is about 45 minutes to 60 minutes for one story, Curran said, and the disc shuffles between 100 different questions each time it is played.

The “Read With Me” DVD remote, Curran said, was carefully developed and tested in Fisher-Price laboratories and research has shown kids adapt to it in just a few minutes with its big brightly-colored buttons. The remote is programmable, like a universal remote, and can store the codes for and work with three different DVD players.

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