Picks and Pans Review: The Video Companion

updated 08/21/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/21/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Basics is a program designed to help parents evaluate and nurture their children's intellectual and social skills. The program comes with a lively workbook laden with questions and graphs to screen and score your child's abilities, spanning 11 categories, including speech, creativity, personality and leadership. Chapters conclude with tips on how to sharpen those skills.

The companion video introduces Basics' chief architect, James J.A. Cavanaugh, a Harvard-trained specialist in learning abilities and pediatric consultant based in Hyannis, Mass. The mild-mannered Cavanaugh interacts with a roomful of cut-ie-pie kids as he graciously guides viewers through the workbook. His methods, fashioned for 3-to 8-year-olds, will appeal to parents eager to give their little ones a head start. (The Center for Advancement of Abilities, $59.95; 800-876-0306)


Books too can broaden Junior's mind, and according to this 50-minute rhapsody, it's never too early to start reading to your babes. The message is well-meaning, but the production is hobbled by a script that is too precious, a pace that is too sleepy and a narrator who is too gooey.

While Barbara Kohli, a former Pitsburg, Ohio, elementary school teacher, looks like Sally Field, she sounds, unfortunately, like Mr. Rogers, as she gushes on about enriching young minds with fine "lita-chur." More valuable than the tape is the reading list that accompanies it, which cites more than 700 carefully selected titles ranging from picture books for infants to novels for fifth graders. A useful outline suggests discussion topics and queries designed to stimulate young readers. (The Cleary Connection, $39.95; 513-547-6035)

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