Educators share their picks for the best kid-friendly entertainment, from ''The Little Mermaid'' to ''Free Willy''

By EW Staff
Updated August 19, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Pleasure-reading recommendations that make the grade:

”My kids respond to Roald Dahl because he used special techniques, like accents. My kids also like Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, by Bruce Coville, which has a really positive message about looks, something more substantial than your basic ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Then there’s Wolf Story, by William McLeery, and The Weaving of a Dream, by Marilee Heyer and those are just the books for fun!” — Kristin Lee, fourth-grade teacher, Escondido School, Palo Alto, Calif.

A few albums of note from a maestro at the blackboard:

”I play Baroque music for my class — mostly Handel’s Water Music and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I also play a Mozart CD that the kids call Dracula music because of all the pipe organs. Studies show that classical music helps children stay on track and that’s definitely been true in my classroom — there are fewer altercations now. And when the local symphony orchestra came to school last year, my students could say, ‘Oh, Vivaldi. We know that song.’ Not bad for third graders.” — Jim Guerci, third-grade teacher, Evans Park Elementary School, Pearl River, N.Y.

Three tapes that keep kids on the edge of their desks:

”I only show movies that relate to what we’re studying in class. When we studied water, I showed the National Geographic documentary Creatures of the Mangrove, and The Little Mermaid. Movies can be useful teaching tools, inspiring students in ways that other teaching methods cannot. For example, we watched Free Willy, and the kids were so motivated by it that they joined the adopt-a-whale program!” — Ellen Thompson, first-grade teacher, Union Memorial School, Colchester, Vt.