Children playing at our wedding reception at Shadow Lawn, September, 1980.

Cover of Qwerty's Alphabet Adventure.

Qwerty's Alphabet Adventure
by Holly Duthie and Nancy Hayfield Birnes

Qwerty’s Alphabet Adventure is a new concept in children’s books because it combines a story, pictures, and computer software to create an active learning experience. The story is for you to read to your child, the pictures will stimulate your child’s imagination, and the computer program is for you to use on your home computer to add an element of animation to your child’s listening and learning. Unlike standard software, which can tend to be passive entertainment for children, Qwerty’s AlphabetAdventure is designed to be active and stimulating.

Qwerty’s Alphabet Adventure will help you use your home computer to teach your child the basic skills of letter recognition and computer awareness. Also, by reading to your child and by guiding him or her through the process of analyzing the choices in the story and then selecting the right letters of the alphabet, you can teach your preschool child to think logically, exercise judgment, and make decisions.

The book is centered around an animated character named Qwerty, a caterpillar, who finds a different food to eat each time that your child presses the right letter at the computer keyboard. At the end of the story, Qwerty is transformed into a beautiful butterfly who will float across your video screen.

Each page of the book highlights a single letter and a food that begins with that letter (except for the letter X, in which a bit of artistic license was exercised). The computer program will enable you to display the same letter and object that appear in the book every time that your child presses the correct key. This will enable your child to add color and animation by pressing the letters of the alphabet in their correct sequence.

As you read about the foods Qwerty must eat, your child will press the correct letter key to have the letter displayed on the video screen. In the story, your child will be asked to press the letter again and this will call up each food from the computer’s memory. When the graphics appear, the computer is ready to begin the next letter sequence. The child should press the correct letter when ready.

You can use this book most productively by following the basic steps outlined below.

  1. Carefully read the instructions in the documentation. The instructions have been written specifically for your computer and will show you how to load the program from disk or data cassette and how to customize or change the program.

  2. Be sure that the program loads and runs properly before you sit down with your child at the computer. It’s easier if all the pieces are in place before you begin reading to your child.

  3. Set aside a quiet period, perhaps immediately after dinner, when you can give your complete attention to the project.

  4. Begin slowly. Let your child examine the book on his or her own terms by looking through the pages to become familiar with the different illustrations.

  5. Start with one letter at a time. Ask your child to look at the letter in the book and then trace its outline. Next, help your child find the same shape on the keyboard. Then, when the correct key is pressed, spend time with your child discussing the letter shape on the screen.

  6. When the story asks what Qwerty should do, talk about the alternatives and ask your child about his or her decision. You may be surprised at the sophisticated thought processes and reasoning abilities your preschool child can demonstrate.

  7. Spend time with your child at the keyboard. Experiment with the computer and encourage your preschooler to get a feel for the shape and pressure of the keys.

  8. When you are confident of your child’s competence and dexterity at the keyboard, allow him or her to load the programs from the tape or disk and then demonstrate how to run through the program. Eventually, older children may want to modify the program for themselves.

Both the narrative and art in Qwerty’s Alphabet Adventure reinforce your child’s learning process. In every Qwerty anecdote, the repetition of the key letter teaches your child that the sound and letter occur in a variety of words and parts of speech. The repetition will help your preschooler expand his or her vocabulary by adding new words and by using known words in new situations.

The artwork and design also play vital roles in this book. The design is unique because it creates a high level of shape abstraction and parts identification. When Qwerty is seen hiding among the non-food items, he is obscured by similar shapes and patterns. Your preschooler will soon be able to identify the character, but only after playing a game of hide and seek. This process teaches shape and object recognition and is a major factor of IQ measurement.

Accordingly, the computer program contains very simple graphics. The graphics are not an end in themselves, but are meant to add an element of movement and additional color to the story. They are also designed to stimulate your child’s interest in the computer keyboard and screen. Because the graphics are an uncomplicated, direct response to keyboard input, your child will learn that it is he or she who controls what appears on the screen by pressing the correct keys.

This is an interactive children’s book that is intended for the whole family. It is our intention to involve you and your child in the story and discussion on many different levels. Qwerty’s Alphabet Adventure can truly be a family activity. Enjoy it!

Apple II Plus IIE (Disk & Book), Ti-99/4a (Cassette & Book), Atari (Book & Cassette), Commodore 64 (Book and Disk)

☞ Product details and how to view:
Image of leafless tree for the Print Version.