Ask the Author – Lisa Holt
Over the years, many amazing people have worked on the Letterland stories and characters. We decided to pick the brains of a few of our incredible authors.
Lisa Holt is a writer, editor and designer of children's books. She has written well over 50 phonics titles, including the well received Letterland Fix-it Phonics programme. She has won Primary Teacher Awards for the titles: My First Dictionary, Phonics Touch and Trace, Phonics Touch and Spell; and Practical Pre-School Awards for the titles: Living ABC software, Far Beyond ABC and My Alphabet Storybooks. More recently, she has developed an innovative range of products to teach grammar - Letterland Grammar and Letterland Spelling Stations.
Read on to hear what Lisa had to say!
1. What motivates you to create educational resources?
Perhaps it’s in my genes! I come from a family of teachers so I have always been surrounded by people talking about the best ways to encourage children to learn. For a while, I became a teacher too, and that led me to become interested in the materials available to teachers. When I joined Letterland in 2000, I worked closely with the Originator, Lyn Wendon. Her passion, care and attention to the needs of young children as they embark on their journey to full literacy was inspirational. Knowing that children all over the world have successfully learned to read and write (and enjoyed the process!) continues to motivate me every day.
2. Which Letterland character or story do you most enjoy and why?
I think it has to be Walter Walrus! He’s a character I enjoyed creating. I love wildlife and like the fact that, when you teach with Letterland, you get the opportunity to talk about all the wonderful things in the world! Walter to likes to make waves and be a bit naughty sometimes too, splashing Annie Apple and Oscar Orange in words. It’s fun for kids to act out his stories.
3. What drew you to early years English literacy and why?
I studied English language and phonetics at University as it was something I was really interested in. I then taught English in Japan for a while and had classes ranging from 3-80 years. My favourite class was a group of 5-6 year olds. They had so much enthusiasm for play. When you are playing it doesn’t feel like learning, so we spent our time laughing together. Working in early years English literacy combines the two – a fascination in language learning, and fun.
4. When did you realise the power of language?
I genuinely like words! I never want to stop expanding my vocabulary, as the more you know the more powerful it is. If you can express yourself with subtlety and skill, you can describe situations, emotions, be persuasive, be sensitive… without a good command of language you close the door to so many opportunities. It’s vital to engender a passion for language at an early age that continues throughout life.
5. What is the most important thing about creating an educational resource?
That children and teachers enjoy using it. My own two children have often been at the cold-front of creation, giving no-holds-barred feedback! When we are creating a Teacher’s Guide or larger scale projects, feedback from teachers in pilots and those who have trained or used Letterland for years is really invaluable and I am ever grateful to those people who devote their time to helping us create the best resources.
6. How do you think technology has changed the present or future of education?
Technological advancement is a great thing. It allows us to do more, often speeding up the processes of doing things or alleviating us from the monotony of others. But it must be used wisely, especially with young children. To my mind there is requirement, when learning English to talk – a lot! To read to children, to ask questions, to discuss, to use your whole body in multi-sensory learning, to draw and write with sticks in sand and pens on paper, to make emotional connections with others. Technology can play a vital role in consolidating that learning and often game-like animations are a wonderful way to make an learning concept come to life, so I support using technology in schools and in homes, but as much as I love an iPad, it isn’t a substitute for a brain! You have a grow a good brain first. Like anything in life, effort reaps reward.
If you'd like to hear more from the Letterland family, check out our interview with Director of Training, Lesley White.