Reading with Lenny
Reading with Lenny is an ITV schools TV series from the 1970s and 1980s, covering Reading for primary school pupils.
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, 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.
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.
|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.
|Book illustrations||Frank Bird|
|Series adviser||Betty Root|
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.
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||Autumn 1977 & Spring 1978||Tue||09:47||Fri||11:43||ITV|
|1978-79||Autumn 1978, Spring & Summer 1979||Tue||09:47||Fri||11:44||ITV|
|1979-80||Autumn 1979, Spring & Summer 1980||Tue||10:04||Fri||11:10||ITV||The first five episodes were not screened due to the ITV strike|
|1980-81||Autumn 1980, Spring & Summer 1981||Fri||11:14||ITV|
|1981-82||Autumn 1981, Spring & Summer 1982||Fri||09:35||ITV|
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
With thanks to Simon Collins
- 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".
- 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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