Friday, May 9, 2008

Free Resources for libraries from PBS Kids!

The presenters were Mary Haggerty from WGBH Boston, the local PBS station, and Holly Cachimuel also from WGBH.

Several children’s series were talked about, with the audience calling for the shows their patrons want to see. Several of my own favorite series were included.

Arthur: The Animated Series was first. In case you’re not familiar with kids lit, Arthur is a show based on a series of kids books about an aardvark and his friends. A new set of episodes will be premiering this fall, with the emphasis on health, exercise and environmentalism. Lance Armstrong will be in an episode this fall. There is also a emphasis on the idea of kids taking charge and making a difference. There are resources for librarians on the PBS Kids website.

Arthur also has a big push to get out information about Asthma. They had a Boston Public library call in story (Kids called a pre-recorded Arthur book read by the voice actor for Buster, about asthma.)

Between the Lions was next. This is in fact my personal favorite PBS program on today. This show is about a pride of lions that live in a library. They read classic books, and have new stories and segments about vocabulary and words. The best part is as the book is read out loud, and animated, the words of the book are on the bottom of the screen and each letter lights up as they are read, like a Karaoke track. The resource material for the show on the website ties into literature directly.

There will be a new Electric Company Series, but before that is ready they’ll be making the original Electric Company episodes will be available online and on I-Pod technology, to test kids ability to use new technology.

Curious George is the animated adaptation of the Margaret and H.A Rey’s children’s books. This show’s focus is science and engineering, as George is always taking things apart and trying to find out how they work. Much of the educational materials for this show have to do with science. A Curious George packet will be sent to libraries all over the country in the fall, with ideas of how to use the books and show to promote science and discovery.

They have an open call for librarians to join WGBH as partners to develop their outreach and to review their shows. The WGBH website has the information on this outreach.

Martha Speaks is based on the Martha books by by Susan Meddaugh. Two programs based on this series is the idea of getting older kids to read to younger ones, and also bringing therapy dogs into schools to be read to. Martha Speaks the animated series will premier in the fall. It emphasizes the idea of words as being important, having the power to change everything, and give people the ability to do anything.

Fetch with Ruff Ruffman is a combination of animation and live action. A team of kids is given a challenge to get kids to think, explore, and experiment. It’s a show that promotes thinking and working together. Its aimed for kids from 6-10 years old. They are promoting libraries and museums to set up experiment labs to promote the themes on Fetch.

Design Squad is aimed for 9-12 year old. The central players are a diverse group of boys and girls that promote the idea of engineering as something that is cool, and something that is for girls and for minority kids as well. It promotes problem solving, and also the idea that failure is something you want to teach you. If you don’t fail, you can’t learn. It also promotes the idea of being in a group, and working together. Compromise, and sharing are huge themes. It’s described as “Educational Reality TV”.

Peep and the Big Wide World is a show for preschoolers. It supports the idea of curiosity and ask questions. Thinking and exploring is valued, and also making sure kids know they can and should ask questions. Several episodes are streamed on the website, and there are many lesson plans to tie into this on the website.

You can check out WGBH at
PBS Kids can be found at

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