A series of children’s books dedicated to learning phonics are set to be donated to a number of libraries in the island.

‘Actiphons’, which were created and written by island residents husband and wife Simon and Kathryn Austerberry, encourages children to be active while also teaching them the relationship between the letters and sounds of the English language.

The books, which popular book publisher ‘Penguin’ have picked up to issue, have been used in a number of educational settings across the UK.

The stories practice 69 letter sounds in the order they are taught in school - each with its own character and specific (sporty) activity. The aim is for children to ‘build their phonics skills’ by reading the books in order.

Characters within the stories include the likes of ‘Adventure Annie’, ‘Cricket Craig’, ‘Timmy Tennis’, ‘Olly Obstacle’ and ‘Swimming Sally’.

Talking about the purpose of the books, Mr Austerberry said: ‘The books are all engaging and tell their own individual stories about the Actiphons characters, however their main purpose is to help children reinforce their phonic sounds.

‘For example, we help reinforce the “T” sound through the Actiphon “Timmy Tennis”, who is having a “terrific time at the tennis court tapping his tennis ball over the tennis net”, thus reinforcing the “T” sound lots of times through fun stories.’

So far, Simon has donated Actiphons books to the Henry Bloom Noble Library in Douglas and the George Herdman Library in Port Erin, with further plans to donate books to the Family Library in Douglas and the Ramsey Town Library in ‘the next few weeks’.

Asked if he thinks the books will be popular in the island, Simon said: ‘We hope so! When we created the books we wanted to make them bright, engaging and different to what was already on offer.

‘My wife Kathryn was a primary school teacher and she always commented about the lack of new and engaging books which were around.

‘The books cover so many characters and different sports that we hope they will engage a wide range of children and their interests so that there is something for everyone.

‘The whole Actiphons concept originated from teaching our own child to learn her phonics as she was starting school.

‘She was a very active child and learnt so much easier when she was being active, so we started with some very basic clipart images, gave the character a name and made up some sporty games.

‘Just like that, she began to pick her sounds up very quickly.’

It is not just books that Simon and Kathryn have created. The Actiphons website (https://actiphons.com/) offers a variety of resources such as teaching manuals, activity books, parents guides and many more educational books which are available to purchase ‘at a very low price’.

Simon added: ‘The low cost (£1.49 per Actiphon book) is to encourage as many children and families as possible to develop their language and communication skills whilst engaging in physical activity.’