Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why, yes, we do watch TV

I admit to being hooked on a new TV show...a PBS show...for kids. Super Why has hijacked my brain. At first, I wasn't sure why, because it isn't really the kind of animation I like, the plotlines are often (to this adult) predictable, and I often solve the secret answer before any super letters are even collected into the superduper computer.

This morning Chris and I both, independently, had one of the theme songs from the show stuck in our brains, which is what prompted me to think more about why I put it on for Cora on Friday mornings. (And it's awkward, because in between Super Why and Sesame Street is the deplorable DragonTales.) Chris says he likes the way the animation for the featured storybook characters is different from the animation used for our heroes, the super readers, giving small viewers the idea that there are two different worlds going on here.

I have a few things I like about the show. I like the multimedia aspect: a TV show, with computer animation, that highlights actual, physical books. I like how Whyat, the leader of the super readers, tells us "When we have a question...we LOOK in a BOOK." I like the way a kind of quasi-viewer participation is fostered, by the characters exhorting us to say our names at the end of the super reader roll call, asking us what letters have been found, or what letter makes the "ess" sound, and then the pause to allow for an answer before the "prop voices" call out the answers. I like that, for the most part, you get both the basic story of a well-known fairy tale or fable, as well as permission to revise it. I like the way it could be an introduction to close reading for kids!

Of course, as always, there are caveats. I'm not sure about the inclusion of AlphaPig...a pig. Who hangs out with kids, talks, and apparently even has thumbs. The leader of the group (of four) is still a boy. One girl is a tomboy and one is a "princess". Still, I see why the creators would make these choices, and I don't necessarily think they are bad choices. I just sometimes lament the narrow field. And sometimes the fairy tales are edited in interesting ways (i.e., in ways which make them slightly less interesting).

But, Cora likes the show. She will even sometimes repeat the letters as they are called out. Which she also likes to do with me - every once in a while she asks for the alphabet, and sometimes she wants the song (and now we can sing both the traditional tune and AlphaPig's slightly more syncopated version) and sometimes she wants to repeat the letters after me. I love the latter, especially when I say a letter she either can't or doesn't feel like saying, and then she just responds, "NO!" until we get to a letter she likes. And I love how whenever I say "U!" she gleefully responds, "Cora!"

She's no where near ready to understand what this alphabet stuff is all about, but she's getting the sounds of the letters in her ears, and she's having fun with it. I like that a whole lot.

Please note, PBS is in no way to blame for my daughter's fashion sense.


Kat said...

Hey Merie
I feel weird leaving comments when no one else does, but I just wanted to say we're a SuperWhy family too! Even Ellie is drawn into it sometimes, and Owen has somehow learned all his letters on his own (he even made a "T" with his blocks last night and grabbed my hand to show me "T! T! Mama, T!") and I really honestly think SuperWhy had something to do with it, because we haven't really formally worked on letters yet with him. My only complaint, why are there only like 8 different episodes? I swear I've seen every one 15 times already.

And I also agreed DragonTales is hair-raisingly obnoxious, and I've felt that way even since Ellie fell in love with in almost 8 years ago! (Although Eric and I do sometimes say "Look, my dragon badge, it's glowing!" when we're feeling proud of ourselves for something).

Take care, Cora is adorable!

mek said...

Don't feel weird! Comments are nice! They prove I'm not just talking to myself! (Not that that would stop me, of course.)

Congrats to Owen - the T is an important letter! Cora is partial to O. Probably because it is featured in NOOOOO. Her favorite word. :)

Ella said...

I think that is one of the sweetest photos I've seen lately. And who care if PBS influnces her. At least you care. Some people have no one.