Film Festivals | Movie Reviews | Submit a Title | Jurors | About Us | Contact Us | Home

The Newsstand - What's Hot!


Go to the KIDS FIRST!®Home Page

The Newsstand - What's Hot

Christine Pollock, Newsletter Editor
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. -George Bernard Shaw


Subscribe to our monthly E-Zine to stay up to date on KIDS FIRST! initiatives. - FREE -

Your e-mail address:


Turning your TV Time into Quality Time
February 8, 2005 Issue #2
Christine L. Pollock, Editor
Ranny Levy, Publisher
[email protected]

1. Letter from the Editor
Letter from the President
Notes From Our Readers
2. Highlighted Store Titles
3. New Endorsements
4. Festival Titles
5. Member News
6. New Members/Renewing Members
7. Media News
8. Family and Parenting News
9. Making Rainbows for Readers: An Interview with Dr. Twila Liggett by Christine L. Pollock
* Permission to forward or reprint the content herein is granted with complete attribution.

Center for Media Literacy Founder, Liz Thoman is interviewed in the January 2005 issue,
click here.



Barbie Fairytopia World Premiere
Dallas KidFlix Festival Jan 22, 2005


The Coalition for Quality Children's Media is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1991. Because we believe that media profoundly affect children, our mission is to 1) teach children critical viewing skills and 2) to increase the visibility and availability of quality children's programs.

CQCM Newsletter Archive
Jan. 2005
2004 / 2003 / 2002
2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998
1997a 1997 b

Welcome to KIDS FIRST!® NEWS. All articles are by Coalition for Quality Children's Media unless otherwise noted.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. -George Bernard Shaw

Dear Friends,

One year ago, I received an important phone call. It was Ranny Levy asking if I would consider becoming editor of the KIDS FIRST!® newsletter. It couldn't have been a more critical time to become a journalistic observer of the media world. Within a week of the phone call, Janet Jackson had her wardrobe malfunction, and the FCC crackdown began.

It was a dynamic year, even for the media world. Through KIDS FIRST!® I have come to meet the people who help shape and define that roiling world, especially the potent world of children's media.

This month I was privileged to conduct a delightful interview Dr. Twila Liggett, founder of the unimpeachable Reading Rainbow series. A brilliant mix of the printed word and media, the twenty-time Emmy-award-winning show has introduced generations of children to the joys of reading. In the interview, I was shocked to learn that funding is tight and the show's future is precarious.

Do you have any suggestions for funding for Reading Rainbow, or comments on how Reading Rainbow has affected your life? I hope you will take a minute of your time to share them with me.

As always, I welcome your input. If you have comments on titles we have endorsed; notices of awards, publications, and products; or suggestions for articles...drop me at line

Have a wonderful month!
Christine Pollock, Editor

Dear Readers,

Here it is, almost Valentine's Day again, my favorite holiday of the year. What's not to like about a day to celebrate love? May your Valentine's Day be a time when you can slow down a bit and remind your loved ones how much they mean to you. I am reminded of my friend, Mardi's response when someone asked her how she managed to divide her love between her seven children. She answered, "I don't, I multiply it." May your love be multiplied this month.

Producers, please note that we are extending our January 31 deadline to February 28 so you have an extra month to get your titles in for our summer festivals. You can submit them just to the festivals for only $75 or for a full KIDS FIRST! evaluation for $150 / members; $300 non-members. We have particular needs for programs about nature and the environment, literature-based programs, programs in Spanish and Italian, and programs that promote peace and tolerance.

Bravo to the USA Film Festival's KidFilm for hosting, in collaboration with KIDS FIRST! the world premiere of the new direct to DVD title, Barbie Fairytopia. The full house was ever so much enchanted by the little girls who attended dressed in their finest fairy costumes. KidFilm's screening of Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain also had an incredible turnout, enhanced by the appearance Trevor Romain, writer of the award-winning book upon which the DVD is based. Kudos also to the Coolidge Theater in Bostom where more than 450 kids showed up last weekend for a screening of Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type.

You'll notice below our list of new KIDS FIRST! Film and Video Festival partners, including our first international partner in Mexico City at the Papalote Museo del Ninos (Children's Museums). We are very excited about this opportunity to be part of their national children's day celebration in their main museum in Mexico City as well as in their mobile program which travels throughout the country. And, we'll be showing films in both Spanish and English.

We're also delighted to have United Parenting Publications join us again as a media sponsor for our festivals. They own parenting publications in 13 cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and others that reach over 1.6 million parents each month. They are helping us get the word out about our festivals whenever we have a matching location for one of their publications. Thanks UPP! Check out their website at

Last, I hope you enjoy Chris' interview with Twila Liggett, one of my favorite people who's made a huge contribution to children's media as the producer of Reading Rainbow. Hats off to you Twila and to your continued good work.

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful February.

Much love,

Ranny Levy
Founder and President, KIDS FIRST!


"Although I do a lot of computer activities with the children, I rarely use TV or videos because they view it so much at home. I use Reading Rainbow pre-recorded videos very occasionally when there is one that correlates with a topic we're studying and I use pre-recorded Between the Lions (once this year) when it correlated with a phonics theme. Keeping up on media hasn't been a priority in my life! I am now subscribed to the KIDS FIRST!® E-Zine. I did add the KIDS FIRST!® link to my teacher web page, and I sent an email to parents telling them about it so hopefully others will profit by it!" -S. Oppedisano, first grade teacher, Rochester, NY

KIDS FIRST!® Junior Film Critic Alante Thalley Interviews Morgan Freeman:

On Sunday, October 24, at the 27th Starz! Denver International Film Festival in the Buell theatre, I, Alante Thalley, accompanied by Marina Quimby, was appointed by Madera Rogers to interview movie producers and directors. Our main priority was interviewing actor and director, Morgan Freeman. Unsurprisingly, we were the only kids there. Finally people started to walk down the red carpet and I interviewed each one. Then came Mayor Hickenlooper. Immediately, visions of political ads rolled in my head. I was nervous when I was interviewing him for some reason and this was only the mayor!

After, I tried to calm myself down, but before I knew it, Marina told me Morgan Freeman was walking toward us. Quickly, I murmured the question I was going to ask him so I wouldn't forget. He walked up to the red carpet into the crowd of reporters bombarding him with questions. Even though it took a little longer than I expected, Morgan walked toward us and my legs almost collapsed under me. Luckily, I got his attention before he passed me. Stunned, I stood stationary and then I tried to ask my question, but my words got jumbled up. He patiently said, "Start over." So I did, and the words came out right. My question was, "What do I need other than hard work and determination to be in your shoes?" His reply was, "Ninety percent is hard work and determination, but ten percent is luck!" Then my mom, dad and sister came. Mr. Freeman still hadn't gone inside. I pointed him out for my mom and she got a few pictures of his back. After all the excitement I went home.


***PISCES & GEMINI: A CASE OF VANISHING STARS-Video. The Zula Patrol travels the galaxies helping others and saving the universe while promoting non-violence and tolerance. They discover that two constellations have been transformed: one into sharks and the other into sumo wrestlers attacking the spaceship. Made children want to go out at night and find the constellations they learned.

***NOAH'S ARK-Video and DVD. A moving drama with heartwarming emotion enacting Noah's heroic mission to rescue all creatures great and small. Based on the book by Peter Spier. Narrated by James Earl Jones. Music is by Stewart Copeland of "The Police." Great addition to any children's video library, well produced and thoroughly engaging.

**MY BEST ENGLISH, VOL. 2: COLORS-Video. An entertaining teaching aid to facilitate language-learning while prompting a positive learning environment. Teaches ten colors via live images, animation and classical music.


Video/DVD - Ages 2 - 5
** COVER YOUR NOSE! Ahh-choo! Milo has caught a cold and lets everyone know about it by sneezing everywhere. He reluctantly pays a visit to Dr. Sniffles who tells him how important it is to "Cover your nose!" Adult Juror Comments: Cute story. Fun, quick clip that gets a message to kids in two minutes. Colorful cartoon characters. Amazing animation shows the spray from a sneeze. A bit abstract. Requires discussion: a laugh track is played when the monkey sneezes - children may think that it's funny to sneeze on someone. Kid Juror Comments: Most were amused - or a little disgusted. "Why didn't he use a tissue? He made someone get germs." "That was nasty." "We need to cover our nose when we are sick because the germs might get other people sick." Some said sneezing was funny and began to sneeze. "The captain sneezing was funny!" TV. 2 min.; $0; Age: 2-5. MG STUDIOS.

* KIDS MUSICAL YOGA "LET'S GO TO THE JUNGLE." Kids sing while playing yoga. In a unique, interactive format, kids go on a magical journey where they do yoga while singing silly, original songs. Fairy Princess Andreanna leads them to an imaginary jungle. Adult Juror Comments: Interesting premise, very slow pace. Colorful and inviting yoga room. Creative songs with fun, lyrical music. Good introduction to complete yoga novice. Doesn't hound kids to perform yoga poses perfectly. Demonstrations are fleeting. More singing and floor tapping than yoga. Production value is inconsistent. Kid Juror Comments: Especially popular with three-year-olds, who rhythmically hit the ground to keep time to the music. Some liked doing yoga and wanted to learn more. "I liked being a snake." "I want to learn about singing bowls and eye pillows." Others became distracted and restless. "Nothing's happening." DVD. 30 min.; $16.95; Age: 2-5. KIDS MUSICAL YOGA.

Video/DVD - Ages 5 - 8
** SEEING THE UNSEEN: PAWS AND TALES, THE ANIMATED SERIES. Like many youngsters, Wally Wickett, a new friend of the club, needs proof that God exists. While on an exciting campout with Paw Paw Chuck and the club, Wally sees first-hand what is invisible but very real. He comes to understand that God, like love, is felt more than seen. Adult Juror Comments: Charming. Endearing characters, awesome 3-D animation. Trees look real, sunlight filters through a window, water ripples on a lake. Logical order lets kids figure things out - no forced conclusions. Subtle and non-judgmental. Multi-denominational appeal: theme is more about God than Jesus. Kid Juror Comments: Genuinely liked the message as well as the characters. "It didn't make me think about anything NEW, but it makes you think about believing in things you cannot see." "The animals are like us. They wonder about God too!" Loved the animation. "They were drawn in a neat way." "The storm looked real." DVD. 30 min.; $17.99; Age: 4-8. PROVIDENTIAL PICTURES, INC.

Video/DVD - Ages 8-12

*** BULLIES ARE A PAIN IN THE BRAIN. This series is designed to show young people positive strategies for dealing with everyday problems. In this episode, Trevor examines the behavior of bullying and what kids can do to avoid, deflect or diffuse it. Adult Juror Comments: Outstanding. Attractive presentation of a serious problem. Easy to follow and believable. Gives kids options in dealing with bullies and insights into the behavior. Excellent springboard for counselors, parents and teachers to use in classroom discussions. "Bullies might see themselves." Kid Juror Comments: Right on target. "Stuff like this happens in my school a lot." "It was funny the way the bully acted, but it was bad." "They made him eat boogers and stuffed his shoe in his mouth and stole his lunch and said mean things, but that was all part of the story." "It was about real life and taught us a lesson." DVD. 45 min.; $14.99; Age: 8-12. THE COMICAL SENSE COMPANY.

** HOW TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK WITHOUT THROWING UP. An imaginative and light-hearted approach to schoolwork that is designed to show young people
positive, solution-based strategies for dealing with everyday problems, and how to put them into practice. Adult Juror Comments: Clever premise. Amusing treatment of a serious, universal topic. Animated characters interacting with the cartoonist is a fun twist. Addresses kids directly, giving detailed, funny answers to their questions. Contains some bathroom humor. "Effective because it understands how kids think." Kid Juror Comments: "Great. Cool." "Throwing up is a funny, creative way to get us to do homework." "It was a lot more interesting than the title sounded. It's just not a favorite subject." "It's a cartoon so it's unrealistic, but the advice about homework is good." "It convinced us to do our homework." "I loved the eraser." DVD. 45 min.; $14.99; Age: 6-10. THE COMICAL SENSE COMPANY.

** WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE DIES. Trevor Romain helps young people discover and practice positive ways of dealing with everyday problems. This episode handles the topic of death using humor and animation to help kids comprehend what happens when life ends. Adult Juror Comments: Controversial treatment of a sensitive topic. Uses humor and animation to help kids understand that death is natural. Main story is comforting fiction with ideas that can be disturbing to some. Straightforward and frank. Live-action Q & A section with kids is indispensable for grief counselors. Kid Juror Comments: Watched intently. ''I don't think about death but once this got going, I was interested.'' "I like the memory box, but it's not fair to make kids think they will get to hug their grandmas after they die like the girl gets to in her dream." "Don't you have to be a Christian and believe in God to get to heaven?" DVD. 45 min.; $14.99; Age: 8-14. THE COMICAL SENSE COMPANY

Video/DVD - Adult (Parents and caregivers)
*** BABY AND PARENT NURSERY: AGES AND STAGES PLAYTIME. Sections for both parents and babies make this a valuable DVD for new parents. Stimulating images and music keep infants entertained, and up-to-date advice is given for parents who wish to maximize the potential in their baby's early development. Adult Juror Comments: Excellent parental material. Thoughtful, simple and calm. Well organized and useful with good examples: interesting scientific discoveries and explanations on how to stimulate a child's mind. Children's segment is perfectly paced for little ones, full of things to observe and learn from. Kid Juror Comments: Loved the music selections and hummed along. Older kids sat back and watched the entire time. Babies waved toys in time to the music while facing the screen. Clear images and hypnotizing movements relaxed them all. Pre-schoolers talked about the toys and colors to parents and asked to see it again. DVD. 100 min.; $14.95; Age: adult. BRIGHTENING MINDS, INC.

*** BABY AND PARENT NURSERY: LANGUAGE & NUMBERS PLAYTIME. A fun DVD with sections for both baby and parents. For parents, expert advice from doctors is provided on how to maximize your baby's potential. For the little one, engaging images and music provide stimulation as baby grows into the more challenging language and number exercises. Adult Juror Comments: Superb guidance for new parents coupled with stunning visual effects for baby to watch. Calming and informative. Doesn't force teaching. Well-researched advice is practical and non-technical. Offers everything from brain formation to music to pre-math skills. Beautiful, varied music. Kid Juror Comments: Older kids were captivated, singing songs and doing the alphabet exercises. Babies were enthralled with the ever-changing objects. One baby was particularly drawn to the sequence with dripping and spinning toys. Preschool kids asked to watch it again; other parents asked to borrow it. DVD. 93 min.; $14.95; Age: Adult. BRIGHTENING MINDS, INC.

MY BROWN EYES. A boy rises early and prepares for his first day of school in America. Clever and resourceful, he also makes his own lunch and breakfast for his immigrant parents who work late, but he is unprepared for the challenge that awaits him at school. Adult Juror Comments: Powerful. Complex and elegant short film. Hard-hitting story in a soft style that kids can watch. Inexpensive filming technique works well with story. Helps everyone understand the problems of a diverse society. "I was moved by the compassion in my kids' eyes as they watched the boy's struggles." Kid Juror Comments: Had a profound effect on them. "We could relate to how scared the boy felt because he didn't fit in." "I felt sorry for him." "It's not a fun video." "We have to watch videos like this to learn. It made me think about how I treat other people." "How frustrating it would be to not speak English in America." Video. 30 min.; $49.95; Age: 6-12. MASTER COMMUNICATIONS.


Read more about each title and see many more at

Benji Off the Leash! -100 min. (limited availability)

This is a story about heroes: Three unlikely, unsuspecting souls who come face-to-face with that moment in their lives when they must stand and be counted. A band of unlikely comrades brought together by the least likely of the bunch, for a common, courageous purpose. Things will change. Lives will be saved. Because Benji is off the leash! Produced by Margaret Loesch and Joe Camp; Directed and written by Joe Camp; Composer: Anthony DiLorenzo; Actors: Nick Whitaker, Chris Kendrick, Randall Newsome, Duane Stephens, Neal Barth, Nate Bynum, Melinda Haynes, Christy Summerhays. Ages 6-12.
The Hatchery LLC and GoodTimes Entertainment

Dora the Explorer: Dora's Fairytale Adventure. Animation. 100 min.

Lost in Fairytale Land, Dora and Boots run into an evil witch and embark on a difficult journey. Boots accidentally eats a banana that the witch has put a spell on and turns into Sleeping Boots. The only hope for reversing the spell is for Dora to become a true princess using her tools to execute specific activities. Includes two bonus episodes: "Star Catcher" and "The Magic Stick. "Sneak peek, "Dora's Magical Matching Game," sing-along and song selection. Ages 2-5. Nickelodeon and Paramount Home Entertainment

America's Heart and Soul. Documentary - 88 minutes

Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg packed up his camera and hit the road with a goal of capturing both the unparalleled beauty of the land and the incomparable spirit of the people. Through his movie, you'll have the chance to meet ordinary Americans with extraordinary stories. Louis's gift is his ability to connect with people, honestly capturing their values, dreams and passion in an awe-inspiring journey that reveals the stories - unusual, captivating, inspiring and emotional - that make us into something more than a collection of individuals. Executive Producer: Jake Eberts (Open Range, Chicken Run, The Legend of Bagger Vance); Producer: Louis Schwartzberg. Director: Louis Schwartzberg. Original Song by: John Cougar Mellencamp. Ages 5-12.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment


Help Tsunami Victims With Long-Term Plans
Paul Herman, CQCM Board member and Chief Development Officer at Ashoka writes about the Ashoka Fellow. As shown in the feature on CNN, the Fellows are planning long-term structural solutions in addition to the short-term help. For more information or to send support, go to:

Songs From the Children of Nyumbani
Award-winning children's musical artist Judy Pancoast begins the New Year with the release of a new CD entitled, "Songs from the Children of Nyumbani." Nyumbani, a one-of-a-kind refuge in Kenya, is a home to children whose parents have died of AIDS and who themselves are HIV positive. Nyumbani is based in Karen, just outside of Nairobi, in the village named after Karen Blixen whose story was told in the film, "Out of Africa." The CD features two original songs written and recorded by the children of Nyumbani, for the children of the United States.


ArtistrYE Productions
ArtistrYE Productions is a NY based film and television production company servicing the children's media industry via educational entertainment. ArtistrYE Productions has differentiated itself by the new series creation, One Pine Place, and is raising the funding for the television series, under the direction of Yvette Edery, M.A.

Big Jeff Music
Big Jeff Music brings songs and fun for young children. A very tall fellow in a hat strums and sings for preschoolers and their parents.

Cinema Werx
Cinema Werx is a film & video production company based out of Salt Lake City, UT which strives to offer top quality products that educate and entertain children.

Educational Adventures
Educational Adventures is an entertainment company that was created to provide premium educational entertainment products for children and their families. All Educational Adventures products are designed to empower children to make better safety related decisions and reduce the injuries & deaths associated with childhood accidents. All products are designed so that children "learn through laughter." The company launched the first episode of its Danger Rangers series, Mission 547 Safety Rules, in 2004. This and subsequent episodes will air on PBS in various markets throughout 2005. Educational Adventures has also developed illustrated storybooks using our team of animal, action-adventure superheroes to make the world a safer place and teach children about safety. All products are available in English & Spanish.

The Safe Side
The Safe Side was organized to provide critical safety information to kids, ages 5 to 10, that empowers them to make good decisions when confronted with everyday situations.


Michael Powell Steps Down
Federal Communications Commissioner, Michael Powell, is stepping down in March of 2005. President Bush's replacement for Powell will have a profound impact on the future of a media system that is already in deep crisis. Let President Bush know who you want to replace Powell.

Google Branches Into Television
Ready to use a search engine to find the perfect programming for your household television viewing? Google has been indexing programming from ABC, PBS, Fox News, and C-SPAN…and they have big plans for covering more.


Heifers and Hope
As tsunami victims struggle to rebuild their lives, programs such as Heifer Indonesia and Heifer International Asia are reaching out with trainings, livestock and related help. They are helping the locals rebuild their agricultural production. For more information, check out

Advergaming: Are You Ready?
Companies will soon be selling their advertisements as part of electronic games. Disney kicks off this new trend with their "Virtual Magic Kingdom" which debuts on May 5th. This might be a billion dollar industry by the end of the year according to Forrest Research.

Boosting Minority Teachers in Urban and Rural Communities
Tom Joyner, nationally syndicated radio personality, announces a partnership with the National Education Association to distribute more than $700,000 toward the education of minority teachers so they can eventually teach minority children.

Making Rainbows for Readers - An Interview with Dr. Twila Liggett
by Christine L. Pollock

Periodically, the Reading Rainbow theme song echoes through my thoughts, and has done so for the past twenty-two years. Since the show's debut in 1983, its messages of empowerment through books and delight in imagination are compelling forces that boost children into a world where they can be anything.

It comes as no surprise that the founder and co-executive producer of the twenty-time Emmy-award-winning show (eight of the twenty were in the Outstanding Children's Series category) is an educator and avid reader herself. Dr. Twila Liggett was born to teach. Throughout elementary school, hours in the classroom were not enough: when the final bell rang, she came home and played school with her three younger sisters. She was also born to read, a love she attributes to her father. Her earliest memories are of her father reading to her.

These passions led her to various jobs, including school principal, state reading consultant for Nebraska, a handbook writer, and teacher of grant-writing courses. The combination of these talents was exactly what Nebraska Educational Television was looking for when they decided to be the progenitor of a national children's series. With Liggett's talents, Reading Rainbow was born.

The non-commercial series offers something for viewers of every age. LeVar Burton, the host of the show, talks candidly to viewers and asks questions that encourage them to answer from their living rooms. Now, parents who answered Burton decades ago are listening to their own children respond. Its sheer longevity is a grand pronouncement on the quality of Reading Rainbow.

"It's because the audience will find the same quality of caring from any episode in Season One through any episode in Season Twenty," Liggett asserts. The producers of Reading Rainbow honestly care.

Reading Rainbow does not shy away from tough issues. They are part of children's reality, and Reading Rainbow is there, helping children to cope with the ills of the world. For example, The Tin Forest episode, which won an Emmy award, deals with 9/11. It has been included in the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festivals to much acclaim. Reading Rainbow frequently addresses other sensitive topics, as seen in Visiting Day, a January 2005 program that focuses on children with a parent in prison.

Reading Rainbow has found a formula that works and sticks with it. Each episode highlights three books that are reviewed by real children. Burton goes on location to explore topics addressed in the books so children can see real footage of the events being discussed. Kids are taught to question and to research for answers-skills that teachers and parents encourage.

The current trend of merchandising, linked to many modern children's programs, is a concept that the producers eschew. Still, the Reading Rainbow brand is recognized throughout the nation. Librarians and parents stock bookshelves with titles featured on Reading Rainbow because their high quality is assured.

The role of the show extends far beyond the actual television set. Burton and Liggett bring their joy of reading into schools, and local networks promote literacy programs in their areas based on the concept that reading should be fun. In the American school system, there is a great push for children to be more literate, yet busy schedules prevent older children, such as 'tweens, from increasing their literacy skills the most natural way: by reading for fun.

How can parents and teachers get 'tweens to read for fun when their schedules are overwhelming? Liggett has ideas and would love to develop a television show for tweens that might answer this question.

In the meantime, parents can be good role models by reading books themselves. I mentioned to Liggett during the interview that I always feel funny mandating leisure reading during our homeschool lessons. Liggett suggested SSR, the public school program of Sustained Silent Reading for everyone, adults as well as children.

Liggett further recommends that parents find an author their child enjoys then search for other books by the same author. Some wonderful resources are the International Reading Association for Children's Choices ( and the New York Times recommendations.

Parents might want to read aloud to children. Many times, parents stop reading to their children when they enter the 'tween years. However, Liggett's friend Jim Trelease ("The Read-Aloud Handbook," Penguin Books) says that reading aloud to tweens can truly help change negative attitudes about reading into positive ones. In one study, a middle school instituted daily read-aloud sessions and found that the percentage of students who read at home for pleasure increased from 40 percent to 75 percent!

Among the greatest rewards of the Reading Rainbow legacy are family literacy projects, according to Liggett. Across America local stations sponsor initiatives that reach out to bring reading to everyone-including the poorest communities. Reading materials are brought to hospital waiting rooms, parents in prison, and rural communities, and with them they bring the joy of reading.

Many local PBS stations also run a contest for kindergartners through third-graders. Each child who enters an originally written and illustrated book will receive a certificate signed by LeVar Burton, and the winners will have their stories posted on the Reading Rainbow website. Details on the contest can be found at

Unfortunately, these literacy programs cost money, a factor sadly lacking in the show's otherwise successful production equation. For Reading Rainbow, the future is uncertain.

"My dream of dreams is to have a wealthy entrepreneur, preferably one with kids and grandkids of the same mindset, decide that they want to make a difference in this world by supporting literacy and supporting Reading Rainbow," Liggett says with a sigh. Funding comes from several different resources-local PBS stations with matching funds; grant money; and companies with a corporate underwriter such as the current sponsor of Reading Rainbow, The Children's Place.

Grants have time limits and are very time-consuming to request. Companies fluctuate as CEO's change, and markets vary.

While waiting for their dream benefactor, Liggett and the Reading Rainbow team struggle together to raise the funds necessary for the top-quality show. Liggett has intriguing plans to use the internet as a fund-raiser.

As a KIDS FIRST!® juror who applauds the non-commercial life lessons found on the Reading Rainbow titles our group reviewed, and as a parent who routinely tapes the program, I plan to support reading Rainbow Rainbow by donating to my PBS station with a note saying that I am supporting them because they run quality shows like Reading Rainbow.

"Reading is the greatest joy on the planet. Once you read, the world is there for you," Liggett summarizes.

I have discovered this to be true, and my children are learning it, also. I opened up my five-year-old's school journal the other day and read the question at the top of the page. "What makes you smile?" I smiled myself when I saw his answer, "When Mommy reads to me."

All of us at KIDS FIRST!® applaud the work of Twila Liggett and hope that somehow we can help her find the funding to continue this fabulous show for generations to come. Twila's an All-Star producer in our minds.

Reading Rainbow is a production of GPN/Nebraska ETV Network and WNED-TV Buffalo and is produced by RCN Entertainment, New York. Reading Rainbow is a registered trademark of GPN/WNED-TV.

KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival Schedule
Join us as we travel around the country with film festivals. Find out when we will be in a town near you. For details read here

Alamogordo, Otero County Film Office/White Sand Film Festival, NM Annual Event Feb. 18-20
Albuquerque, Explora Science Center Children's Museum, NM, Weekly
Austin, Austin Public Library, TX, Weekly at All Austin Public Libraries
Boston, Boston Children's Museum*, MA, Weekly, Dates Pending
Brookline, Coolidge Corner Theater, MA, Weekly, every Saturday
Cincinnati, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, OH, Monthly
Dallas, USA Film Festival*, TX, Annual Festival (January) and Monthly (Start date pending)
Denver, Denver Film Society, CO, Every Saturday
Forest Grove, Forest Theater, OR, Weekly
Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Cinema Center, IN, Weekly
Garden City, Long Island Children's Museum, NY, Weekly
Houston, Children's Museum of Houston, TX, Daily
La Crosse, Children's Museum of LaCrosse, WI, Every Friday & Saturday
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, Weekly
Mexico D. F., Papalote Museo del Nino*, Annual Festival, Apr-05
Nashville, Belcourt Theater, TN, Annual Festival (Feb. 18-21) + Weekly Screenings (ongoing)
New Orleans, Louisiana Children's Museum, LA, Weekly
Newport Beach, Newport Beach Film Festival*, CA, Annual Festival April 21-30
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Art Museum, OK, Monthly
Philadelphia, Prince Music Theater, PA, Weekly
Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, AZ, Monthly
Phoenix, Phoenix Film Festival*, AZ, Annual Festival April 7-10th
Portland, Barbara Bush Children's Hospital*, ME, Fundraiser April, 2005
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City Children's Film Festival*, UT, Annual Festival (Pending)
San Jose, Mexican Heritage Plaza*, CA, Weekly (Pending)
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara International Film Festival*, CA, Annual Festival June 05
Santa Fe, PeaceJam, NM, Annual Conference April and May 2005
Santa Fe, KIDS FIRST! Film & Video Festival*, NM, Annual Festival May-05
Santa Fe, Warehouse 21*, NM, Weekly (Pending)
Spring, Community Cinema, TX, Community Programming on Demand
Vancouver, Kiggins Theater, WA, Weekly

Other Events:
March 11-13, Howard University, Washington, DC: "Consuming Kids: Predatory Marketing, Health and Policy." How can you combat the negative effects of marketing on our children?

April 6-9, Taos, New Mexico: Taos Media Literacy Forum and Taos Teen Media Forum present seminars and workshops for youth with discussions for both youth and adults on media literacy.

April 15, Storrs, Connecticut: "Growing Up in a Mass Media World." Empowers the young to be critical media consumers.

May 13 - 15: The Second National Conference for Media Reform, St. Louis, Missouri. For more information, go to

June 25 - 28: National Media Education Conference, San Francisco's Renaissance Parc 55 hotel. "Giving Voice to a Diverse Nation" in San Francisco. The Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA) is committed to promoting media literacy education that is focused on critical inquiry, learning and skill-building. This national, grassroots membership organization will be a key force in bringing media literacy education to all 60 million students in the United States, their parents, their teachers and others who care about youth. (

Become a Coalition for Quality Children's Media Member

If you've found our e-zine and web site helpful, please consider becoming a member of KIDS FIRST!® Members help underwrite the various projects of this organization. The Coalition for Quality Children's Media's relies on the generous support of its members and donors to support its programs. An individual/family membership is only $25/year. An organizational membership is $100/year. An independent producer membership is $200. To join, go to: or contact our office at 505.989.8076.

VISIT OUR MEMBERS' SITES ******************
Please visit our website for an up-to-date list of Coalition members by clicking here:



Send comments, questions and feedback to:

To SUBSCRIBE to our free e-zine, KIDS FIRST!® NEWS: Send e-mail to [email protected] Or fill out the simple form at: To leave this list, send e-mail to [email protected] or use the link below:

This newsletter may be reprinted with permission. Write to: [email protected]
Copyright 2002 by Coalition for Quality Children's Media,


KIDS FIRST!® is the not-for-profit Coalition for Quality Children's Media's initiative that evaluates and rates children's media - videotapes, CD-ROMs and television - using a highly acclaimed method that has been praised by parents and educators alike. It utilizes professionally designed criteria and evaluation tools and engages a volunteer jury comprising child development professionals, teachers and parents nationwide and children of diverse geographic, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. KIDS FIRST!® endorsed titles appeal to people around the world and include many programs on topics important to children's development. KIDS FIRST!®-endorsed titles are available on CQCM's award-winning Internet site, in the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival and in reviews we provide to more than 75 publications.

CQCM evaluates feature films, television programs, videos, CD-ROM, DVDs and audio recordings. For an application form and application deadlines, visit our website at, call our office (505.989.8076)

Coalition for Quality Children's Media, 112 W. San Francisco St., Suite 305A, Santa Fe, NM 87501.

CQCM Newsletter Archive
2004 / 2003 / 2002
2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998
1997a 1997 b
Subscribe to KIDS FIRST! free monthly e-zine for news and specials: