Friday, August 22, 2008

The PBS Literacy Offensive

NPR aired a story yesterday on the enhanced lineup of literacy shows on PBS. Entitled PBS Launches an ABCs Offensive with New Shows, it highlights current shows and the new Martha Speaks series. I found this excerpt to be of particular interest.

Susan Neuman teaches education at the University of Michigan. She was at the Department of Education when the decision was made to focus on literacy, and while she is very supportive of these shows, she adds that they sometimes "don't have the charm and the interaction and the excitement that some of the other programs have."

For instance, one episode of the Emmy Award-winning show Between the Lions demonstrates how to sound out the words "doodle" and "noodle."

"It focuses very much on phonological awareness, a key skill that is important to literacy development," says Neuman. "But at same time, phonological awareness ... is not terribly fun for young children."

In other words, kids would rather watch Curious George or Blue's Clues — which may explain why the literacy shows don't get great ratings. Only one — Super WHY — is in the top 10.

There is some interesting stuff here. Do give a listen.

1 comment:

  1. Our kids are still young but I have seen a lot of the kids' "literacy" shows. They don't hold the kids attention for long -- my 4 year old doesn't care for Between the Lions, and he's only had a passing interest in Word Girl and Word World and Pinky Dinky Doo. I've seen the previews for Martha Speaks and it will be interesting if they get into it. For non literacy shows, Curious George and Caillou are favorites, as well as Max and Ruby (although I don't like it.) We loved Signing Time and I wish our PBS station would have it on more frequently.

    Doesn't that sound like we are watching way too much television? One of my goals is to spend more time reading, or just more time with the TV off.