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Stories from Around the World (DVD) / Enchanting Christmas Stories (DVD) Review by Cindy West

Dr. Brij Kothari
Master Communications, Inc.
4480 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 302
Cincinnati, OH 45242

Stories from Around the World and Enchanting Christmas Stories are DVDs containing five stories each that are told in English and Spanish. Created by Dr. Brij Kothari, the DVDs are intended to help children improve their reading skills since each story is subtitled as it's narrated.

The most unique aspect for each story is that you can choose not only the language in which the story is narrated but also the language of the subtitles. So, for instance, you can set the story to be read in Spanish as English subtitling comes across the screen. Or, you can choose to hear Spanish narration while Spanish words come on the screen.

The readings included on the Stories from Around the World DVD are "The First Well," "The Boo in the Shoe," "The Whispering Palms," "The Little Pianist," and "Elephant Goes to the City." Included on the Enchanting Christmas Stories DVD are "The First Christmas," "The Elves and the Shoemaker," "Tucket the Bucket," "The Greatest Treasure," and "Santa's Christmas."

There is some movement in the animated illustrations, but action is minimal. The illustrations don't overwhelm the subtitles. Soft background music and appropriate background noises enhance the storytelling. Each DVD is about 30 minutes, making the stories between five and seven minutes long. The subtitling appears below the illustrations in phrases. As the words are narrated, they are highlighted for the child to follow along. The highlighting was often a bit slower than the narration.

Even though I found the stories to be less than fascinating, I believe they could have a place in some homeschools. If your children love following along while books are being read, they will probably enjoy these DVDs. If a child is struggling with reading and you'd like to try a new approach, this might be something to try. If you are looking for something to help your child with Spanish reading and speaking, these would probably enhance your Spanish lessons. And finally, if you have a child learning English as a second language, these may encourage the understanding of English. The stories are definitely geared toward younger children (preschool through second grade), but you may want to use them with older children if trying to include them in a Spanish curriculum.

My emergent reader (seven years old) was not captivated by the DVDs. Unfortunately, he prefers much more action and excitement. He did find it interesting to switch the language but quickly lost his interest less than a minute into the stories. A younger child may be more likely to enjoy them.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2007