Reading with Lenny

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Reading with Lenny
Reading with Lenny title.jpg
ITV Schools
First run:
20th September

26th June

Repeated until
25th June

(5 school years)
Episodes:28 episodes
Duration:10 minutes
Subject:English: Reading
Audience:Age 3-5, Age 5-7
Language:In English
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4 images from this programme


Lenny and Terry

A series to encourage children who are learning to read. Ventriloquist Terry Hall reads a story to his puppet Lenny the Lion, who is just learning to read. Lenny follows along and comments on the story, and then at the end he reads along with a simplified version of the story with the words shown on screen. After the story Terry and Lenny play a reading-related game, such as thinking of rhyming words or Lenny finishing off a story that Terry starts.

The story books all concern the adventures of Kevin the kitten, his mum and dad, and his friends including Belinda the bear, Duncan the dog, Gary the goat, Leslie the lamb and Rachel the rabbit. The 28 stories are not graded (i.e. they don't increase in difficulty) but remain at roughly the same level of reading to encourage children's enjoyment of reading.

The Kevin the kitten stories were all written by Terry Hall himself, who had previously published a successful series of children's reading books called Laugh and Learn[1], and his puppet Lenny the Lion was chosen for his popularity among young children. The series proved popular both in infant schools and among parents with children at home[2].

The children's reading books were shown on screen, but Terry read each story from a large book propped-up in front of him. He did not actually handle the books, because Lenny occupied both of his hands, but while he was reading the illustrations were shown full-screen with an effect of pages being turned.


# Title Broadcast
1. Kevin's Ice Cream 20 Sep 1977
2. Kevin's Teddy Bear 27 Sep 1977
3. Kevin's Big Toe 4 Oct 1977
4. Kevin's Bike 11 Oct 1977
5. Kevin's Tickling Game 18 Oct 1977
6. Kevin and the Rocking Horse 25 Oct 1977
7. Naughty Kevin 8 Nov 1977
8. Kevin's Pedal Car 15 Nov 1977
9. Kevin's Toy Tractor 22 Nov 1977
10. Kevin's Scooter 29 Nov 1977
11. Kevin Plays Leapfrog 10 Jan 1978
12. Kevin At The Launderette 17 Jan 1978
13. Kevin Goes to the Library 24 Jan 1978
14. Kevin Washes the Car 31 Jan 1978
15. Kevin Goes on a Picnic 7 Feb 1978
16. Kevin's Dirty Shirt 14 Feb 1978
17. Kevin in a Hurry 21 Feb 1978
18. Kevin's Little Trick 28 Feb 1978
19. Kevin's Pillow Fight 7 Mar 1978*
20. Kevin's Bag of Marbles 14 Mar 1978
21. Kevin's Jelly 1 May 1979
22. Kevin's Umbrella 8 May 1979
23. Kevin at the Fair 15 May 1979
24. Kevin and the Bucket 22 May 1979
25. Kevin and the Door 5 Jun 1979*
26. Kevin at the Car Wash 12 Jun 1979
27. Kevin's Dinner 19 Jun 1979
28. Kevin's Paddling Pool 26 Jun 1979

* Kevin's Pillow Fight was previewed in a What's New preview programme on Monday 19th December 1977.

* Kevin and the Door was previewed in a Next Year at School programme on Tuesday 5th December 1978.


Written and presented by Terry Hall
with Lenny the Lion
Book illustrations Frank Bird
Graphics Anna Farrar

Steve Williams

Series adviser Betty Root
Designer Stephen Fineren
Director Pauline Shaw
Producer John Coop


Pupils' books

A selection of pupils' book covers

All of the Kevin the kitten stories were published as children's reading books, with the full text of the story on one side of the page, and illustrations with simple captions on the other side.

They originally cost £1.70 for a set of ten reading books covering one whole school term.

Teacher's notes

Teacher's notes

A booklet of notes for the teacher, covering the background to the series, a brief overview of each episode with all of the picture captions and a basic description of the game that Terry & Lenny play, and extensive suggestions for follow-up work in the classroom.

There was also a set of tear-off gummed stamps with Lenny's face on them, for giving out to the class.

The notes were written by the series advisor Betty Root, tutor in charge of the Centre for the Teaching of Reading at the University of Reading School of Education. The notes booklet covered the whole year of programmes, and originally cost 40p.


  • 1977-78: Tuesdays 9:47am, repeated Fridays 11:43am
  • 1978-79: Tuesdays 9:47am, repeated Fridays 11:44am
  • 1979-80: Tuesdays 10:04am, repeated Fridays 11:10am (the first five episodes were not screened due to the ITV strike)
  • 1980-81: Fridays 11:14am
  • 1981-82: Fridays 9:35am

Sources & References

  • IBA (1978) Independent Broadcasting Authority Annual Report & Accounts 1977-78. London: IBA
  • ITN Source (Granada TV archive catalogue)
  • Root, Betty (1977) Reading with Lenny teacher's notes 1977-78. Manchester: Granada Television
  • Root, Betty (1978) Reading with Lenny teacher's notes 1978-79. Manchester: Granada Television
  • Thames (1977) Independent Television for Schools and Colleges Annual Programme 1977-78 age 4-18. London: Thames Television
  • TV Times London edition television listings (1977-82) via TV Times Project database
  1. Root (1977) p.4 says "Terry Hall, with his successful reading series Laugh and Learn, has already established himself as a writer of simple, humorous stories." Thames (1977) p.7 describes the Laugh and Learn series as "lively and widely acclaimed".
  2. IBA (1978) p.26 says "Reading with Lenny used the popular puppet Lenny the Lion as an incentive to first and second year infants to enjoy learning to read, and rapidly built up a large following both among schools and among parents with children at home."

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