Monday, November 23rd, 2009
Review: Scholastic Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics
I’m as anti-video as parents come when it comes to children’s videos, but I’ve really grown to appreciate Scholastic’s books-on-DVD. I jumped at the chance when offered to review Scholastic’s Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics.
Last year, when my daughter turned 4-years-old we caved to preschool peer pressure and began holding a ‘movie night’ on Saturdays. It’s difficult to find movies that don’t contain an all-out-crying fearfest moment in them, or are simple enough to understand without lots of pausing for Dad’s explanations.
- Babe? Remember the mean barking male sheep dog? Tears galore.
- Charlotte’s Web: We read the book first, but she still took Charlotte’s death really hard.
- The Muppet Show? Way over her head, and sometimes downright scary.
- Faerie Tale Theatre? Way too complex a storyline.
Today’s rated G is not the same G we watched in our childhood, and PG might as well be NC-17 to her. Scholastic is a safe haven, as wholesome and non-threatening as they come, and nicely tied into books. We have grown to love Scholastic in the past year.
Check out this T is for Terrible promo clip from How Do Dinosaur’s Say Good Night? …and more dinosaur tales.
Ten things I’ve learned about Scholastic DVDs:
1) The stories are slow-paced, not containing MTV-style fast editing like most children’s video content. (That’s a very good thing.)
2) My daughter takes special delight in seeing how books have been animated that we’ve already read together.
3) When we see a favorite book animated, the old adage is true: “The book was better.” It’s due to the acting voices and gestures Mom or Dad do that make a book special. Nothing else can compete. My daughter still loves seeing her favorites animated though.
4) Stories we’ve seen on DVD first take on a special air when we later encounter the books. Officer Buckle and Gloria is an example of an animated story that is much, much better than the book. In the story, Gloria the dog performs on-stage antics which come across funnier animated than through printed images.
5) The DVD jackets contain good story summaries. We pick what we want to watch based on those summaries and avoid the (very rare) scary story.
6) We turn off the DVD’s read-along captioning feature. The captions distract heavily from watching the stories, unless you’re going to read the words aloud. I’m guessing the most effective approach would be to turn the sound off and have a parent read the stories on screen.
7) The stories average 11 minutes, allowing an easily customized viewing period. Depending on time and temperament, we watch 3 stories, or an entire DVD, in one sitting. We often mix-and-match stories from a couple DVDs.
8) In the 100-story pack, there are 16 DVDs representing 19 hours of storytelling. That’s a lot of movie nights. Most DVDs contain 6 or 7 stories, but a few contain 4 or 5.
9) Each DVD is based around a theme, book series, author or illustrator.
10) The stories vary in how they are presented:
- The camera pans through original artwork, zooming into or out-of scenes. This was difficult for my daughter to follow until she became acclimated to viewing a screen.
- Minor elements animated from the original artwork. This approach remains the most true to the original illustrator’s work, livening it up ever so slightly.
- Complete animation. It’s fascinating to see the original artwork fully animated.
- Live-action. Sometimes these stories are based on books and other times they are original, made for the screen. They are hands-down my daughter’s favorites — guaranteed fun.
Check out a snippet of Bear Snores On:
Check out The Remarkable Riderless Runaway Tricycle (the full 10 minute story) below from I Stink! …and more stories on wheels.
This is a sleeper hit, quiet, mildly amusing to adults, but a laugh riot to kids. This tale had us cheering and laughing at the end (starting at the 8:30 mark)…
Back in my fathering-my-first-child hasn’t-been-around-the-block-yet self-righteous phase, I had a real hang-up about books being watched on TV. Then I realized, that’s a hell of a lot better than any other video content I could possibly show. Why the heck not show my kids literary stories on screen instead of the garbage being pumped out by Hollywood today?
My advice is, whether you’re a once-a-week video prude like me, or parking your kid in front of a TV every day, Scholastic Storybook Treasures are the way to go.
The 100-DVD pack is your best buy if only because Scholastic hasn’t created a bigger DVD set yet. Although, you may wish to consider the 50-story preschool storybook pack as a place to start. It has only a slight overlap in stories between it and the 100-story pack.
Grab either at Amazon, although Costco has a better price on the 100-story pack for the holiday season.