But I know I can't keep my kids away from television forever, so they may as well be watching something educational. And Word World comes with a pedigree -- it was developed by leading literacy experts and partly funded by the Department of Education.
In the interest of full disclosure, PBS sent me a free DVD of two 11 minute episodes of Word World. We brought it with us to Chicago and Annabella (age 4) was hooked. She watched each episode several times on the plane. In Chicago our friend Caleb (age 2) also enjoyed the show, although he lost interest after about five minutes.
Word World stars "The Word Friends," cartoon animals that are made of letters. For example, the dog is made of the letters D-O-G. In fact, many of the objects in World World are made of the letters that make up the word the object is. If I'm not making any sense, check the Word World Web site to see for yourself.
Did Word World teach Annabella to read or help her become more "reading ready?" I have no idea. My totally personal, unprofessional opinion is that if we'd spent the time actually reading or just interacting instead of watching the DVD, that probably would have done more good. Most experts recommend that you watch these kinds of shows with your kids, but if you're anything like me then you watch these shows while you can take a break to do something else.
Word World is aimed at 3-5 year olds, which I respect since I'm definitely against all the TV that's shown to babies these days, especially considering that recent study that says that infants might be better off watching American Idol.