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Archive for January, 2009

Writer’s Contest for Children Beginning January 27, 2009

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

PBS KIDS GO! and WNED-TV Buffalo/Toronto are partnering to launch the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, a national-local contest designed to promote the advancement of children’s reading skills through hands-on, active learning.  The Contest encourages children in grades K-3 in communities across the country, to celebrate the power of creating stories and illustrations by submitting their own original pieces.

Beginning on January 27, 2010, PBS stations throughout the country will be active partners in the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, and will work with schools, public libraries and other literacy organizations to implement the Contest in their communities. Children will be encouraged to write and illustrate stories and submit them to their local stations, which will select winners and award prizes.  Local winners will be entered into the national level of the Contest where a renowned panel of judges will identify the national winners.  Winners will be announced and national prizes, including laptops, digital cameras and MP3 players will be awarded in summer 2010.

In addition, a new PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest Web site at pbskids.org/read will launch in early 2010.  As the information hub of the Contest, it will include the winning stories in each of the Contest categories as well as a searchable archive of winning stories.

“We know from research that there is an important connection between writing and the development of early literacy skills, critical cornerstones for school readiness and achievement,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “PBS KIDS uses the power of media to open up the worlds of letters and words for all young children, encouraging them to explore ways to communicate more effectively and increasing their odds of success.”

The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest extends the powerful tradition and annual success of the 15 year national “Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest,” originally created by WNED-TV Buffalo/Toronto and NET Nebraska.

“WNED is proud to continue its leadership role in literacy for public television through the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest,” said WNED President and CEO Donald K. Boswell.  “Building on the important legacy of “Reading Rainbow,” this new contest ushers the powerful mission of our programs directly into the homes and classrooms of the community, motivating young students to create and imagine.”

The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest is a part of PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a national initiative which uses the power of public media to build the reading skills of children ages 2-to-8, with an emphasis on children from low-income families.  The effort is funded by a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education, part of a cooperative agreement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS and The Ready To Learn Partnership.

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Kay Panabaker Joins the KIDS FIRST! Board

Monday, January 19th, 2009

As we enter a new year, we at KIDS FIRST! are excited to announce a new board member who is joining our team. Actress Kay Panabaker (“Fame,” “Nancy Drew,” “Moondance Alexander,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” among others) has an intense interest in children and media.

CP: Please gives me a non-wikipedia view of how you see yourself and your goals.

KP: I see myself as a person who goes to the beat of my own drum. While most 18-year-olds are trying to appear more mature, I’m trying to hold onto my youth and innocence. Education, family, and hard work are often underrated in the media, but I hope that throughout my lifetime, I am able to impress upon people the significance of both of these in the lives of children. I hope to continue to work in jobs that I love and share that love with others.

CP: What made you want to be part of the KIDS FIRST! organization?

KP: As a 17-year-old UCLA graduate, education is clearly very important to me. Current pop culture has de-emphasized the value of education and family. The KIDS FIRST! organization has worked hard to celebrate children’s media that is both entertaining and instills good values in the audience. I think that with more support, they can create a safer and more child-friendly environment in the media. I continue to babysit, and I’m always looking for new movies and books to share with my charges that will encourage them to do great things in their lives.

CP: What do you feel you bring to board meetings and general function for KIDS FIRST!?

KP: I feel that my youth brings a new perspective to KIDS FIRST! adults who, while having more worldly experience, have to work harder in order to understand children trends and interests. I am constantly hanging out with kids and consider myself a big kid, so I think my experiences will help KIDS FIRST! I hope my familiarity with children and the things that they are interested in will help KIDS FIRST! find great children’s media.

CP: What was your impression of the board member you first met?

KP: While I haven’t met the rest of board, I have met Ranny Levy, and she has been so nice to me. We first met when she presented me with a KIDS FIRST! Film Award and I was immediately taken with how caring and kind she is. She is so very passionate about her cause, and I hope that I am able to help her in her endeavor to better the lives of children through media.

CP: Please tell us about an experience with children’s media that had a great impact on your life.

KP: I’ve always been a big of the Disney animated films. They are always so witty and funny and enjoyable for people of all ages. As a kid, and even as a teenager, I have looked at those films to help me figure myself out and investigate the world around me. I appreciate any book or movie that transports kids from their own lives to some other world.

CP: Do you plan to continue acting, pursue a teaching career? Both? Neither?

KP: I would like to continue acting as long as possible. The business is so finicky, however, that teaching is one of my backup plans. If I stop working as an actress, either by choice or lack of jobs, I will get my teaching credentials and hopefully teach elementary school. I actually just took and passed the CBEST, which allows me to substitute teach in California. I might try that and see how it goes.

CP: What changes would you like to see in children’s media in the future?

KP: I would love to see children’s media revert back to educational and family values. With the constant bombardment of media that has no value beyond entertainment, I want to see kid-safe media options that aren’t going to jeopardize their morals and their values. Adults need to understand that even the simplest things can have the biggest impact on children’s lives.

CP: Where you see KIDS FIRST!, as an organization, headed in the the future?

KP: I see KIDS FIRST! as becoming the measurement by which media judges its positive impact on children.

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Loukoumi’s Good Deeds

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

If you are looking for a gift for a young one in your life that is sweet and teaches positive lessons on caring for others, than look no further than Nick Katspri’s book, “Loukoumi’s Good Deeds.” It comes with an audio CD narrated byJennifer Aniston and John Aniston and — even better — book proceeds go to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®.Loukoumi, the fluffy, cuddly lamb, returns this spring with Loukoumi’s Good Deeds (Dream Day Press/NK Publications; April 1, 2009; $15.95), the third title in the award winning series of illustrated books by Nick Katsoris for children 4-8.  Featuring a bonus CD narrated by Jennifer Aniston and her father Days of Our Lives star John Aniston, the new book follows Loukoumi through her day as she discovers how easy it is to make other people happy by doing something nice.”Loukoumi’s Good Deeds,” by Nick Katsoris, continues the adventures of Loukoumi and her friends Gus the Bear, Fistiki the Cat, Dean the Dog and Marika the Monkey.  Whether it’s cleaning the house, lending a helping hand or showing your grandparents how much you love them, kids will find that each good deed is unique in its own special way and can make a huge difference in the lives of those around them.In addition to the Anistons, the CD also features the character voices of Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis, Gloria Gaynor (GRAMMY winner for “I Will Survive,”), American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis, Guiding Light star Frank Dicopoulos and CBS News anchor Alexis Christoforous as the voice of Loukoumi.The CD features a bonus story, Loukoumi’s Gift, narrated by John Aniston, in which Jennifer voices the part of Daisy the Giraffe, who teaches Loukoumi that a gift needs not cost a lot of money, but instead can come straight from the heart.  Track 3 on the CD is a new version of the previous Loukoumi title, “Growing up with Loukoumi,” also narrated by Jennifer Aniston.  The track includes the voices of the three winners of the national Growing up with Loukoumi Dream Day contest. Each winning kid received the chance to spend a day in their dream career, which included witnessing a Mars landing from NASA, playing soccer with the New York Red Bulls, cooking on CBS News with chef Tony Tantillo and meeting with TV chef Rachael Ray.Every time a child reads Loukoumi’s Good Deeds they too will be performing a good deed. $2.00 from the sale of each book will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®  is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization. For more information, please visit www.stjude.org.Previous titles in the iParenting Media Award winning series by Nick Katsoris include “Loukoumi” and “Growing Up with Loukoumi.”NICK KATSORIS is a New York attorney and since 1995 has served as General Counsel of the Red Apple Group.  A graduate of Fordham Law School, he is also President of the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund. Nick lives in Westchester County, New York with his wife, Voula, a real estate lawyer, and their children, Dean & Julia.For further information on “Loukoumi’s Good Deeds” visit www.Loukoumi.com.Loukoumi’s Good DeedsNick KatsorisDream Day Press/NK PublicationsOn-sale April 1, 2009Ages 4-832 PagesPrice $15.95

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