Up until about a week ago my 3 year-old had learned to recognize the 4-5 letters that are the initials for our families names (d for daddy, m for mummy) and was looking like he was ready to branch out beyond that.
Somewhere I heard about a BBC CBeebies show call Alphablocks, and got hold of the first series for him to watch. He loved it, especially the music of it, and the characters (his favorite is X, the superhero.) He’d ask for it a couple of times a day, and would happily sit through all 26 3-min episodes in one go.
Now, a week or so later, he knows almost all the letters of the alphabet, with their basic sounds.
It’s not a substitute for one-on-one time with a parent, but I can already see he enjoys books more now that he gets the meaning of the symbols.
With his older brother we used a book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelman, which I also recommend. But it was hard work for him, whereas Alphablocks has just been a fun tv show that he enjoys watching.
All the alphablocks episodes are on youtube (and BBC website – not sure about outside the UK), and dvd, and they look to be branching out to books, web games, and tablet apps.
If your kids have already made the connection of what letters mean, I’d recommend watching a couple of episodes yourself, and then watching them with your child.