You've Got Mail
Having grown up with little cuddly reading time with my parents (they were busy trying to keep 7 mouths fed), I firmly believe that one of the best things you can do as a parent is snuggle up and read to, with, or alongside your kid(s). And if you’d like to enhance your kid’s reading collection, help them develop early literacy skills, and/or encourage their sense of identity (via receiving their own mail), consider the Tessy & Tab Reading Club, a twice monthly preschooler magazine. Really more a booklet reader (ad-free and printed on sturdy paper that will withstand repeated reads), each issue focuses on a topic (e.g., visiting the dentist), and offers activity pages to encourage letter, number, and object recognition. Other resources are available on the kids website, and via email for parents.
The folks at Tessy & Tab were kind enough to offer some of my reviewers a trial subscription so we could report to you the experience from a handful of different kids of different ages. Here’s what our reviewers (ordered by child’s age) had to say:
Story Content: “My son really enjoyed the Tessy & Tab stories, I think because they were about experiences he could relate to (birthday parties, making crafts, etc.). He would listen carefully and look at the pictures, sometimes commenting, "just like Noah" or "Noah does that" (e.g., when Tessy & Tab fell asleep in the car at the end of the "At the Carnival" issue, he said, "just like Noah")… I liked that the stories were simple but included good teaching points like cleaning up after craft time or paying attention to height regulations for carnival rides. We had fun reading them together, and he's always eager to read the newest issue.”
Activity Pages: “He didn't really get into the activity pages though...maybe because of his age? ”
Story Content: “I’m afraid Tessy and Tab wasn't a hit with my son...maybe he's too young? [I find that for my son to enjoy a story] the content needs to be personally relevant for him to pay attention...trains, farm animals, etc. All in all, it seems like an interesting product, but maybe for kids a bit older.”
Getting Mail: “My son loves getting mail, but I've realized that the mail needs to be from someone he knows (e.g., a friend’s birthday invite, a postcard from grandma, etc.).”
Story Content: “I want to thank you so very much for introducing Elizabeth to Tessy & Tab. It is a truly wonderful publication and Elizabeth adores it! …One of the things that we all love about it, is that Elizabeth makes up stories while "reading" the magazine. She uses the cues that she recognizes both in the illustrations and in the words. But she spends a great deal of time coming up with long and involved and detailed stories about what Tessy & Tab are up to in their adventures. My husband and I were working with Elizabeth on her letters and sounding out words together the other day. We were talking with her about how when she learns to read, she will be able to read her own books all on her own! She responded by telling us that she can already read, because she is a part of the Tessy & Tab Reading Club!”
Getting Mail: “She is always so incredibly happy when her new copy of Tessy & Tab arrives in the mail. We have had subscriptions to other magazines for her in the past, but nothing has elicited the same type of response. Today I handed her the new Tessy & Tab, and she was just thrilled beyond compare. She loves reading her Tessy & Tab’s in the car. In fact, it is the only reading material that keeps her attention for a long time. She has sat alone in the back seat and "read" Tessy & Tab for up to 30 minutes at a time!”
Story Content: “The magazines (booklets) are really short. On the one hand the length offers a sense of completion, since a child can read and do all the activities included in a single sitting. It's also great for me, with the two of them, because I can do the booklet with each of them individually, or with them together, in a short period of time. However, if I was just doing the magazine with one child, I wonder if I would feel the $48/yr. subscription price was justified… The stories are okay - not exactly literary masterpieces, but the material is relevant and age-appropriate.”
Activity Pages: “The suggested activities, which are the same in each issue, are very appropriate. Sami, who is not yet reading, enjoys finding the objects and letters throughout the book. Each issue asks the reader to locate just two words in the story, and Sami feels really proud that she is able to complete that activity. Austin does read a little, and does most of the booklet independently. In this way, I've found that it's easy to tailor our Tessy & Tab time to each of their abilities.
Getting Mail: “The girls are really enjoying the Tessy & Tab subscription. They love getting the mail and seeing something with their name on it. The other magazines we subscribe to for them are all monthly, but Tessy and Tab's biweekly delivery is frequent enough that instead of forgetting about it in between shipments, they are able to anticipate it instead.
Web Activities: “The girls have also tried out the Tessy & Tab website, which I am really impressed with. Its activities cover a range of early literacy skills in a fun, engaging way. Additionally, it offers tips for how to use Tessy & Tab with kids of different ages and abilities and suggests general ways to foster an early appreciation of reading.”
Reviewer #4 and her daughters also tried out the Kindergarten Countdown Toolkit for us:
“The girls had been receiving their Tessy & Tab subscription for a couple of weeks when the toolkit arrived, so they were very excited to see more Tessy & Tab products. The kit comes with 5 Tessy & Tab magazines, which are actually short booklets (10-12 pp), a DVD, and "The First Day of Kindergarten Checklist"-- a brief set of suggestions to help parents prepare their children for kindergarten. Since the kit does not come with specific directions as to what, if any, order the products should be used, we opted to watch the DVD first. The DVD is less than 20 minutes long, but covers a full range of topics relating to a day at kindergarten. Getting to school; teachers and staff; making new friends; routine activities such as snack time and using the bathroom; and classroom and school activities such as story time, recess, and gym are all shown from a child's perspective, with most of the accompanying commentary coming from the kindergarteners themselves. The tone of the DVD is relaxed and respectful; it shows kids that their questions and concerns are important, but the upbeat music and genuine excitement of the featured kindergarteners convey that kindergarten is a fun place to be, and something to be really excited about. My girls are familiar with the school, classrooms, and staff where they'll be going to kindergarten, so I wondered if they would be confused by seeing this "other" kindergarten, or if the DVD would be less relevant for them. What I found though, was that the DVD focused on the common experiences of children in several different classrooms, and most of the visuals were of children's faces and classroom activities, so school-specific things like what the classroom looked like or who the teacher was faded into the background.
The accompanying Tessy & Tab booklets were also fun for the girls. Of the five, only "New School" is directly related to the kindergarten experience, but this seems proportionate to me. The other booklets, as well as their website (which is terrific, in my opinion) are more geared toward readiness than preparedness. As you can imagine, much of the process of preparing for kindergarten can't come from a kit, but comes instead from things like visiting the classroom, meeting the teacher, talking about the routines that are specific to your child, etc. The "First Day of Kindergarten Checklist" that comes with the kit covers these things and offers a timeline and some suggestions for how to approach these steps in a developmentally appropriate and fun way.
For us, the kit is a nice complement to the steps we are taking to prepare the girls for kindergarten. I think it would also work as a great springboard for those who are just starting the process.”
We hope these perspectives from our moms and kids are helpful to you! The folks at Tessy & Tab would also like to extend the following offer to our readers: Use code BOS-1Free when you place your order to receive one free issue along with your first regular issue.