Letterland is a synthetic phonics approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling to 3-8 year olds. Children are taught shapes and sounds of letters by assigning them imaginary names and shapes and presenting them as living in the fictional land of Letterland. Letterland characters transform plain black letter shapes into pictogram characters. By translating the full range of dry phonic facts into engaging stories, children are motivated to listen, to think and to learn. These stories explain letter shapes and sounds, allowing children to progress quickly to word building, reading and writing. It was originally developed by Lyn Wendon, and first published in 1985 and was first televised by Nickelodeon (channel) in America between 12 September 1992 and 30 March 2001 and the UK on CBBC between 18 July 1997 and 5 October 2001. The voices for the Classic Letterland characters were done by Josie Lawrence in the UK, but there were multiple famous voice actors (such as Jim Cummings and Yeardley Smith) in the original US version.The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The English Language. Ed. David Crystal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. p. 256. ISBN 0521401798
Letterland videosThe Letterland Story (1992)Once Upon a Time in Letterland (1995) (with additional voices by Felicity Montagu in the UK dub)Detective Dippy Duck (1997)A Letterland Christmas Story (1999)
In 2003, ten of the alphabet character names were changed to less pejorative ones. Impy Ink gained multicoloured ink (his ink was blue before), Wicked Water Witch accidentally turned herself into a sappy old walrus named Walter after testing a spell, Robber Red was finally arrested and sent to prison (some time after that he built his own robot known as Red Robot to do all the robbing for him), Max's friend Maxine was not always with Max to make the X sound so it was Max on his own as a standalone character (now known as Fix It Max) and a new character named Vicky Violet was introduced who is now always seen alongside the Vase of Violets. The pre-2003 character names are now known as the "Classic" range. Transition stories, explaining the changes, are available on the official Letterland website. This enables teachers and parents to use a mixture of both Classic and New Letterland books without confusion.
Additionally, the vowels also had carers simply named Mr A, the Apron Man, Mr E, the Easy Magic Man, Mr I, the Ice Cream Man, Mr O, the Old Man, and Mr U, the Uniform Man, and their families; as well as Zig-Zag Zebra's cousin, Zoe; there was also Firefighter Frank, Naughty Nicola, Jumping Judy, Lamp Lady Linda, Diana Duck, Munching Maria, Bouncy Barbara, Sally Snake and Ticking Tom. Other characters include Long Lisa, Blue Bunny, Grinning Granny, Marvellous Mo, Dopey Dove, Big Bug, Angle Man, Grumpy Grandad, Happy Holly, Gorgeous Georgia, Giant All, Elf Full, Gentle Ginger, The Boot and Foot Twins, Roy, Mr. Tion and Mr. Mean-E.ISBN 0-17-410166-X. NPN 9 8. Post-1988.