How Igglepiggle and friends make sense of the babble | Letter

A former speech therapy lecturer defends In the Night Garden from accusations that the children’s TV programme encourages egocentric language learning

As a former lecturer in speech and language therapy who once set students the task of researching the appeal of Teletubbies and drawing inferences for their practice with disabled children, may I mount a defence of In the Night Garden in the face of Catherine Shoard’s onslaught (Is children’s TV raising a crop of raving narcissists?, 7 May).

As it happens, I watched it regularly last week with my 13-month-old granddaughter, and was struck again by how brilliantly the programme is designed. The sound-making and onomatopoeia that Shoard so dislikes reflect the very early emergence of words from babble and draw attention to what happens on screen; the way Igglepiggle and the other characters use their own names serves as identification.

The focus is really on narrative, for the watching parents and children to tell as the tiny events unfold and are recapitulated as the bedtime story. This also reflects the narrative world of tiny children – and, it should be said, the everyday stories we all tell each other, and which I now use in work with people with severe learning disabilities. It is beautifully crafted and narrated, and such was the effect on my stress levels that I am planning to continue watching now my grandchild has returned home.
Nicola Grove
Horningsham, Wiltshire

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