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The Newsstand - What's Hot!


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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


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Turning your TV Time into Quality Time
June 9, 2005 Issue #6
Christine L. Pollock, Editor
Ranny Levy, Publisher
[email protected]

1. Letter from the Editor
Letter from the President
New Juror Graduates
Watch and Create - Crafts and Activities
2. Highlighted Web Store Titles
3. New Endorsements
4. Festival Titles
Member News
6. New Members/Renewing Members
7. Media News
8. Family and Parenting News
9. Contributing to Communities with the KIDS FIRST!® Film Festival 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.

Making Rainbows for Readers - An Interview
with Dr. Twila Liggett

The Inner Workings of Sesame Workshop with Dr. Ed Greene



New: KIDS FIRST! logo store
Your purchase of hats, t-shirts, baby jumpers, bibs, and totes benefit KIDS FIRST!


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 / Feb. 2005 / Mar. 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June
2004 / 2003 / 2002
2001 / 2000 / 1999 / 1998
1997a 1997

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

In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are. – Gamaliel Bradford

Dear Friends,

What wild May weather we have had this spring in upstate New York! We were wearing heavy sweaters after Mother’s Day and now my kids are wading through the creek, observing tadpoles develop legs. What a great transition into summer.

A few weeks ago I was given a title to review for KIDS FIRST!® entitled Picture Perfect. It is a documentary for teenagers and women that examines media's portrayal of women. I showed it to a group of girls in our high school Sunday school class. Since that day, I have had a number of parents urge me to take the film into the schools. I have even been asked to consider conducting a media literacy class at our church.

Once again, I see how the KIDS FIRST!® program powerfully reinforces and fulfills a community’s desire to learn. It is very inspiring. Below, you will see in my article just how much the growing KIDS FIRST!® film festivals and clubs contribute to communities across the nation.

This month, we at the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media!® congratulate our newest board members. Join me in welcoming to our National Board: Twila Liggett, Ph.D., Executive Producer and Creator, Reading Rainbow & President, Twila Liggett Media, Inc.; Ed Greene, Director of Global Outreach for Sesame Workshop; and Bob Neal, President, Community Cinema, Inc. To our Advisory Board, we welcome: Jaspreet Dhillon, Vice President, IWT Productions; Katy Grant, Librarian; Normajean Colby RN, Pediatric Nurse; and Sandy Watson, President, IWT Productions. To our Honorary Board, please welcome: Jeff Yapp, Vice President, Cablevision Systems. We also extend heartfelt thanks to Barney Cohen, former Chairman of Valley Media for contributing his time and resources to the Coalition. Barney retires this year from our National Board.

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 here.

Christine Pollock, Editor

Dear Readers,

After years of slow progress, KIDS FIRST! is making such quantum leaps ahead, it's like watching a butterfly leap out of its cocoon. During the past 18 months, we've developed so many new ways for KIDS FIRST! to reach a broader public that I’m amazed myself. As I look at the list of venues partnering with us, our web store, our soon-to-be-launched DVD of the Month Club, and our growing Junior Film Critics program, I feel really proud of the work that the CQCM board, staff, and partners that have made all this possible.

Everything has its time. As frustrating as it can get when things take longer than you want them to, it doubles the sense of accomplishment when it finally does happen.

On top of all that, I have to share with you that I have never been happier personally than any other time in my life. I have a wonderful man in my life, my children are all doing very well, my grandchildren are an absolute joy, and my closest friends have all recently resolved difficulties in their lives. Wow. What a blessing.

As we finalize our programming for our third quarter festivals, I'm excited to share with you news about some great titles that will be included and new collections we've created, starting with our "Evelyn and Manny Collection," named for former CQCM Board Member, Evelyn Gray, an avid animal activist. This collection teaches children to treat animals humanely. Another group, called Children of the World, includes films showing how children in different countries live. Included are such titles as: The Going to School in India series by Lisa Heydlauff, an Ashoka Fellow; Indigo, a film about seeing the world through the eyes of an enlightened or Indigo child; three titles from wonderful Families of the World series by Master Communications; and more.

From the studios we have some very cool new titles such as The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (Scholastic), The Jeff Corwin Experience: Out On A Limb: Monkeys, Orangutans and More! (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), Mad Hot Ballroom (Paramount Home Entertainment), Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (Lions Gate Family Home Entertainment), Because of Winn Dixie (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment), and the loveable series, Paz (Discovery Kids). The complete list, with program synopses, will be posted on our website by the end of this week on our website

Another fun thing that I've started is a weekly appearance on a local radio show hosted by Dianne Anderson at KAGM, 106.3 in Albuquerque. Every Friday afternoon at 1:30, I talk about "Ranny's DVD of the Week." No, it's not Oprah guys, but hey! I've got listeners.

And here's my DVD of the Month tip for you: For Father's Day, I recommend a great titles for new dads, EXERCISE WITH DADDY & ME. It'll help those Dads lose their fear of handling their newborns. You can buy it online at the KIDS FIRST! Webstore,

May your June be as lovely as a fairy dancing from flower to flower.

Much love,

Ranny Levy
Founder and President, KIDS FIRST!

Feast Of Lanterns
By Linda K. Stanek, freelance writer and mom from Ohio

Complements the KIDS FIRST!® title, Families of Japan

Each summer, Buddhists in Japan celebrate the holiday of Obon, or The Feast of Lanterns. Families travel to their mothers’ homes to celebrate this holiday, believing their ancestors’ spirits make the journey, as well. They light lanterns at their homes to help the spirits find their way. At the end of the holiday, people light floating lanterns and release them in the rivers and streams, creating a beautiful spectacle that is meant to guide the spirits back to their world.

You can create a floating lantern, too. You will need:

One 6-inch by 6-inch piece of foam board
One 25-inch piece of waxed paper, folded lengthwise
Four wooden skewers, trimmed to 6 ¼ inches
One votive holder or small glass jar
Clear tape and glue
One tea light.

1) Glue the votive holder to the center of the foam core for the tea light. (Find the center by drawing an “X” with straight lines from corner to corner on the foam core.)
2) Insert the sharp end of the skewers into the 4 corners of the foam board.
3) If you would like, write a prayer on the paper. (This is a tradition in Japan).
4) Wrap the paper, prayer inside, around the skewers, creating a paper “box”, and tape the ends together.

At nightfall, have a grownup light your lantern and float it on a garden pond, or other body of water where you will be able to retrieve it later. It could also be floated in a child’s swimming pool, or even in a large bucket or bowl of water.

***Families of Japan. Ages 5-10. Spend a day with Seichi and Ayako's farm and city families, and take in Sports Day, a silent piano, feeding chickens, grocery shopping, an engagement ceremony, rice planting and calligraphy. How are kids in Japan similar or different from us? Adult Juror Comments: Well-paced, educational presentation. Shows the respect Japanese children have toward one another and their high regard for education and self-responsibility. Children exploring geography and other cultures will find this particularly interesting. Kid Juror Comments: Welcomed learning that Japanese children play the same things they do, such as tug-of-war, basketball and tennis. They noticed that they have more letters to learn. They particularly enjoyed seeing Sports Day, sumo wrestlers, and a day in school.


** Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Chants. Ages 3-8. Chants are sounds, words or phrases repeated or sung over and over in rhythmic patterns. There is a fine line between spoken chants and songs and this production, a collection of 36 traditional and original chants from around the world, blurs that line. Adult Juror Comments: Clear, smooth sound. Appealing mix of song and chants from many cultures. Songbook and format make it easy for children to memorize the lyrics. Promotes language skills by introducing a wide range of sounds and combinations. Broadens cultural knowledge. Kid Juror Comments: Those that liked it, liked it a lot. Especially appealing to African-American kids. "It showed being proud of your country and how we treat each other." "I liked the music. I liked saying the words. It was great keeping time with the music." "Very good."


*** Under the Stars and Stripes. Ages 5-12. A children's celebration of America, the heart of this production is its emphasis on the commonality of people and the strength to be found in unity, friendship and peace. Provides America's kids a voice. Adult Juror Comments: Excellent, upbeat video. Super clips of history, songs and dancing. "Amazingly fast and fun. The jokes are a riot. The parents will enjoy as much as the kids." "Truly a video for the children, by the children." Kid Juror Comments: A huge hit, across the board. They sang the entire video and asked about freedom, the flag and the Statue of Liberty. African, Indian, sword and dragon dances were favorites. "Brown people, white people, yellow and more!" "It's good to be different."

*** Exercise with Daddy & Me. Ages: Adult. 50 min. Amusing program for dads looking for ways to relate to their babies. Offers ways for father and baby to interact through movement, music and massage. Features a group discussion on fatherhood. Instructors are a registered nurse and a pediatrician. Juror comments: Well done, visually appealing, good pace. Useful if adults will interact with baby in the ways shown in video. Little cultural diversity. Great ideas for engaging fathers. Instruction on how to hold baby properly are not very clear.


Video/DVD-Ages 0-2

** BRAINCANDY: MY 5 SENSES. Braincandy is an inventive series that focuses on children learning about themselves and the world through their five senses. By introducing new concepts about the five senses, Braincandy strives to build the foundation for critical thinking and creativity. Adult Juror Comments: Novel approach. Effective use of sound effects, music, puppets and live footage. Good visual clarity and light, catchy music. Very conceptual: brain talking to the body parts can be confusing. Slow and somewhat scattered. “Cute puppets - once you get over the idea that one puppet is a brain.” Kid Juror Comments: Some liked it a lot. One girl danced to the music. Another excitedly interacted. Others needed frequent explanations. All of them crowded around the screen to see the cookies. One child did not like the puppets. Another was vexed by the brain puppet squeezing its way into the little girl’s head. DVD. 40 min.; $19.99; Age: 0-3.

Video/DVD-Ages 2-5

*** BIG JEFF. Big Jeff is like a favorite uncle who writes fun ditties about everyday kid events. On this CD are 12 imaginative original songs for young children. Adult Juror Comments: Brilliant use of music. Creative songs with different styles. Very smooth sound - nothing jarring or harsh. Topics are kid-relevant. Gentle singing, soft guitar and harmonica. Language will grow with young kids. Great for daycare and home. “Enhances family time by being enjoyable for all.” Kid Juror Comments: Huge hit. Listened to it twice in a row and repeatedly asked for more. Came up with their own hellos for the Hello song and their own chants for the Construction Set song. Particularly enjoyed moving to the Train song, chiming in with the kids on the CD. “It's fun!” “I like the train song!” “He's silly!” Audio. 35 min.; $15; Age: 2-7. BIG JEFF MUSIC. SCHOLASTIC ENTERTAINMENT.

Video/DVD-Ages 5-8

*** VEGGIE TALES: SUMO OF THE OPERA. The Italian Scallion (Larry) is a joking pro wrestler. But he finds that it's no laughing matter to land in the ring with Apollo Gourd. In this zany tale of perseverance, Larry learns that when you finish what you start, you always come out a winner. Adult Juror Comments: A wonderfully fun, moral story about perseverance. Well written and appeals to a wide range of children. A nice lesson wrapped in humor and fun. Presents a Christian message, but in a low-key way that is not preachy. Encourages children to finish something they start, especially if it is for the benefit of others. "Who knew there was non-violent wrestling, but the veggies pull it off." Excellent production quality. Great music. Kid Juror Comments: Kids loved it. Wanted to see it again. "The veggies are so funny, we love to sing and dance with them." "They make funny faces." "It is funny, but it also teaches you stuff. We learned to keep going." "We thought a lot about perseverance. We didn't know that word, but learned that we should keep trying, even when it's not fun." "The veggies are the best. Thumbs up." FeatureFilm. 50 min.; $11.98; Age: 3-9. BIG IDEA PRODUCTIONS, INC.

Video/DVD-Ages 8-12

*** VEGGIE TALES: DUKE AND THE GREAT PIE WAR. When Sweet Petunia is forced to flee her homeland to protect her mother-in-law Nona, Duke (Larry the Cucumber) risks his life to help her and learns that true love means thinking of others first. Based on the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. Also includes a story based on the story of baby Moses. Adult Juror Comments: Good clean fun. Lovable, expressive characters with quirky personalities and unique voices. Fast moving. Drives home theme of tolerance. Creative conflict resolution, no violence. Simple explanations for complex themes. Perfect balance of fun and morality. Fictionalized Bible stories. Kid Juror Comments: A hit among hits - “Big time.” “They don't have any arms but they cope with it. I LOVE THE VEGGIE TALES!!!” “Veggies rock! My friends and I talk about them at school. We’ll watch it again.” “They taught us to love everyone even your baby brother.” “They re-tell Bible stories in a different, cool way.” DVD. 45 min.; $14.99; Age: 4-12. BIG IDEA PRODUCTIONS, INC.

** WILLY AND THE FURBRAINS: SERIOUS MISCHIEF. Willy Claflin sings and tells stories through his puppet friends, Maynard Moose, Gorf the Frog and others. Each segment is a different story with a different theme and can be viewed independently of the others. Adult Juror Comments: Silly stuff. Well done budget production; not saccharine or didactic. Understands kid humor. Obvious irreverent style is meant to amuse. Fun props and various animal puppets. Great voice, uneven sound quality. Some parts are funnier than others. “I was left looking for a more positive message.” Kid Juror Comments: Weren't quite sure what to make of it. Laughed when prompted by the laugh track. “At first it was hard to hear the words. The sound got better after that.” “It was ok.” “Some of the stories were silly; some were kind of weird.” “The pictures were pretty good.” “What's the next story going to be about?” Video/DVD. 36 min.; $14.95; Age: 7-11. KORTY FILMS INC.


Read more about each title and see many more at

Baku the Travel Bug: Making Friends Around the World. 30 min.

Baku the Travel Bug says, "Hola! Namaste! And Hello!" Baku is a loveable travel bug who lives inside the travel bag of his best friend and travel partner, Aunt Sydney. When children from the neighborhood visit Aunt Sydney's house, Baku pops out of the bag to share pictures from his magical Scrapbook. As Scrapbook makes the pictures come to life, children visit Mexico, India and Lebanon. Between making tostadas, dressing up in a sari, spinning the Big Globe, and learning to dance - Lebanese style! - kids will love this virtual adventure to faraway places and making friends around the world. Ages 2-5. World Notes.

Danger Rangers, Mission 547 The Safety Rules. Animation. 28 min.

Introducing, The Danger Rangers! ...brought to you by an Emmy & Oscar winning creative team headed by Howard Kazanjian (Star Wars). Empowering safety information is taught to children as they are entertained by the loveable animal superheroes' adventures, comedy, and songs. The Danger Rangers mission is to make the world a safer place by stopping one potential hazard at a time. Along the way, the characters encounter unsafe actions, dangerous settings and risky behaviors which they correct. Safety tips are folded directly into the action-driven stories, gags, and songs. Produced by Michael David Moore. Spanish. Ages 3-9. Educational Adventures.

Dragon Tales Playing Fair Makes Playing Fun! Animation. 64 min.

No one likes to be made fun of, and no one likes a "Me First" attitude. Dragon Tales: Playing Fair Makes Playing Fun explores these common childhood behaviors and, through engaging and playful episodes gives children creative ways to learn consideration for the feelings of others. Includes five episodes: No Hitter, The MeFirst Wizard, Give Zak a Hand, Teasing Is Not Pleasing, Play It and Say It (teaches Spanish language skills). Close-captioned. Ages 2-5. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Fairy Odd Parents: School's Out. 77 min.

School's OUT for SUMMER!!!!!! And to celebrate this momentous occasion Nickelodeon will be hosting a channel-wide tent-pole event around the premiere of The Fairly Odd Parents in their kick off to Summer special 'Schools Out!', a Fairly OddParents musical. Ages 5-8. Paramount Home Entertainment.

Paz. CGI animation and live action puppetry. 4/11 min. Episodes.

Paz, a loveable five-year-old penguin, stars in curriculum-based stories inspired by the everyday experiences typical of a preschooler. Based on the popular book series by Irish writer, Mary Murphy. Includes: Frisbee Dog - Frisbees aren't as easy to play with as they appear. Following Dog's instructions though, everyone's able to play along. In a Hurry - Paz, Pig, Rabbit and Dog visit a local art museum, rushing from exhibit to exhibit. Only Dog takes time to really see the art and gives all a new appreciation for taking time. Some of My Best Friends are Carrots - Paz and Rabbit learn how little kids are different from big kids. Big Bad Dream - During a sleep-over, Dog doesn't want to go to sleep because he's had a bad dream the night before. Talking about it and keeping the night-light on solves the problem. Directed by Alistair Clark, Leo Nielsen. Actors: Paz (puppeteer and voice)- Tim LaGasse, Big Penguin (puppeteer and voice) - Rebecca Nagan, Big Penguin (skin artist) -Sarah-Jane Honeywell, Pig -Charlotte Bellamy, Rabbit-Margot Caroni, Dog-Liam McMahon. Ages 2-5. Discovery Kids.

Sandlot 2. Live Action. 97 min.

James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams) reprises his role from The Sandlot in this fun-filled sequel that proves the power of teamwork and celebrates the magic of friendship. Ten years after the original story, the local dirt field is now "home" to a new group of neighborhood kids who get together to share laughs, show off…and play ball! But the gang faces their toughest challenge as they try to retrieve an irreplaceable model rocket that lands in the junkyard behind left field-a forbidden territory guarded by the legendary, growling, slobbering beast known as "The Great Fear." Director: David Mickey Evans; Actors: James Earl Jones, Greg Germann, Brett Kelly. Close-captioned. Ages 5-13. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.


Congratulations Reading Rainbow!
Reading Rainbow, the critically acclaimed and perennially popular children’s television series hosted by LeVar Burton on PBS, was awarded its ninth Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Series during the 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Creative Arts Awards Ceremony held in New York and Los Angeles, Friday, May 14, 2005. Reading Rainbow also won three more Emmys for Outstanding Writing in a Children’s Series, Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing, and Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Photography.

I Wrote That! Signs Distribution Agreement
Echelon Entertainment/Singa Home Entertainment is recognizing this great title and is helping to promote it. They are working hard to get I Wrote That! into “brick and mortar stores,” in the meantime, it is available at

Congratulations to World Notes, LLC
Baku the Travel Bug has recently earned The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval – with a fabulous review . Also, Baku is a Parenting Pick of the Month for May’s issue of Parenting magazine. This title can be purchased at

Big Idea Brings Bedtime Comfort
Tennessee-based Big Idea Inc. and Mission City Press’ A Life of Faith will support the St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway by decorating two bedrooms within the home. “We are excited to work along side St. Jude in this Dream Home Giveaway,” says Bob Starnes, Vice President of Publishing and Consumer Products. “Since relocating to Franklin from the Chicago area we have sought out opportunities such as this where we can serve and give back to the communities in which we reside. Biblical values that families appreciate will be reinforced inside this one-of-a-kind bedroom. As a child is preparing for bed, we want to reinforce the message that God made them special and loves them very much.”

Big Idea Joins Baseball
Big Idea’s VeggieTales have teamed up with Third Coast Sports to sponsor the 2005 “Faith Night” Series. The series joins Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber with eleven minor league baseball teams across the US this summer for twenty-three "Faith Nights." These nights include a pre-game Christian concert, testimonies from players, promotional giveaways and appearances by VeggieTales characters Bob and Larry on select dates. In areas such as Nashville, Faith Nights have brought an increase of almost 3500 fans per night over the season average. More info. At

John Keltonic Helps Children in Uganda
The situation in Uganda is really grim. One in three Ugandans is HIV positive. People die of tetanus, typhoid, diarrhea - very minor diseases that we can cure in the US for a few dollars. Every summer Keltonic takes a group from his church to Uganda in order to work with an orphanage, a clinic and a children's hospital there. If you are interested in donating to help Keltonic’s cause, please send a check to: Stony Point Presbyterian Church, 2330 Buford Road Richmond, VA 23235. All donations are tax-deductible. For more information, visit:

Arthur Kanegis, One Productions, LLC, Wins the Columbine Award
KIDS FIRST!® extends our congratulations to Arthur Kanegis whose screenplay, "One! The Garry Davis Story" won the Columbine Award, which honors screenplays that reflect non-violent conflict resolution, from the Moondance Film Festival. The Columbine award celebrates the best screenplay reflecting non-violent conflict resolution.


Blue Vision Music, LLC
Blue Vision Music, a source for all children's music needs, records and produces music and media for children and families. From video to television, games to interactive toys, music CDs to live performances, Blue Vision has experienced it all. By connecting with them, you not only have access to their award-winning production studio but you will have direct access to some of the top children's songwriters and recording artists in the world.

Colorcalm Skies is a new DVD designed to create a colorful and calming atmosphere. Watch how this simple combination of color and continuously drifting skies helps relax you and your child. Colorcalm Skies is produced in association with PANTONE, the world's color authority.

Norooz Productions
Norooz Productions’ goal is to produce children's products at the nexus of education, cultural diversity and entertainment.

Reel Girls Media
Celebrating life and the arts, examining social issues and exploring the human relationship with the natural world are the foundations of Reel Girls Media. Their projects are recognized with 28 awards and over 60 festival screenings in 11 different countries.

TM Books & Video
Licensed by Lionel, Caterpillar and John Deere, TM Books & Video provides quality family entertainment. They have been in the business for 33 years making I Love Toy Trains series. The last few years they have broadened their horizons and are producing videos licensed by Caterpillar, John Deere and Lionel.

Tommy Nelson, Inc.

Young Children and Media
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced two grants totaling $3.8 million in support of research to explore the effects of digital media on young people, particularly as it relates to learning and education.

Lassie Film to Commence Principal Photography
Principal photography on the new Lassie feature film, from writer-director-producer Charles Sturridge (Shackleton), begins May 23 in Ireland with a cast that includes Peter O’Toole, Samantha Morton and Peter Dinklage.

School and Town Librarians Find Top Quality Production in Youth Media Awards List
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) believes that access to library collections reflecting young adult interests and needs is essential and that multimedia and video formats are necessary to accommodate varied interests. The Selected Videos and DVD's for Young Adults List is tangible evidence that moving images play an important role in the life of a young adult. To be considered for the list, videos and DVD's must be under sixty minutes in length and have been released in the United States in the previous two calendar years. (For example, the committee meeting at Midwinter 2006 would consider titles released in 2004 and 2005.) More information on can be found at

Media Grants from the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation announced $50 million in grants for public service media in the United States. The funds will help innovative public media organizations to meet the public's growing appetite for in-depth information and diverse perspectives on national, international and cultural affairs.


Media and Your Child’s Diet
According to Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” promotes unhealthy eating, according to a review conducted by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). Sixteen separate food promotions feature twenty-five different products, most of which are devoid of nutrients, filled with empty calories and targeted directly to young children. Click here to learn more about the Star Wars junk food promotions.

Nonviolent Toys Blast Off by Andrew LaVallee, Columbia News Service
Alan and Joel Aronie, engineers and brothers from Concord, Mass., built a toy that they hoped would get kids excited about physics and toroidal vortexes. … "You've got to do something that's nonviolent," Alan said he was told by toy sellers. "People just don't want to have guns in their houses anymore," even toy ones…

United Parenting Publications Online
Want to find out what’s going on for you and your children in your area? From film festivals to craft fairs, United Parenting Publications has a calendar of events along with great parenting articles for each of their venues across the country. Now you can access them online at

Contributing to Communities with the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival
by Christine L. Pollock

What are film clubs and festivals? Before working with KIDS FIRST!®, I pictured film festivals as theaters filled with people who sat hour after hour, happily munching popcorn and chuckling over the low prices they paid to see all the films. I thought film clubs were people who sat around talking about their favorite parts of films over cookies. What I didn’t understand was that KIDS FIRST!® film clubs and festivals don’t just take place in theaters. They are in schools, libraries, museums, and even skating rinks. I also hadn’t realized the community outreaches and educational benefits that accompanied the entertainment.

At the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival and Film Club screenings, kids learn to critique films. Many festivals have youth panelists analyze the films and answer questions about the film content and production values. Children at the festivals and clubs have the opportunity to learn about filmmaking from industry experts and are exposed to independent films such as The Danger Rangers alongside large studio films such as Because of Winn Dixie.

As Michael David Moore, CEO, Educational Adventures, puts it, “The KIDS FIRST!® brand is recognized as a leading symbol of high-quality children’s programming, and their endorsement of such programs empowers consumers to make better choices. Likewise, The Danger Rangers brand stands for premium quality entertainment that educates and empowers children to make better safety-related decisions. Showing our title, Mission 547 Safety Rules!, at the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival affords The Danger Rangers brand the opportunity to reach like-minded viewers who value high-quality, family-friendly entertainment.”

“Family-friendly entertainment” is a KIDS FIRST!® goal. The Children’s Museum of Houston, rated as one of the top two Children's Museum's in the country, feels the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival as the perfect complement to their “hands on/minds turned on fun.” They have screenings twice a week in their auditorium. “Our members now come in expecting a show,” says Danielle Vara-Alleman, Public Relations Director.

From the vast KIDS FIRST!® selection, Vara-Alleman chooses fifteen-to-twenty-minute films. According to Vara-Alleman, parents have found that coming to the theater at the beginning of the museum visit provides a nice way to settle the kids down and focus the children on their museum experience. Vara-Alleman is delighted with the programs KIDS FIRST!® offers and utilizes the opportunity to show films in Spanish and Chinese. These programs go along with the multi-lingual exhibits they have in the “Cultural Mecca” of Houston.

Starting a film festival can be an intimidating endeavor, but it’s not as hard as it may seem. Rachel Lazarus, Programs Director at Louisiana Children’s Museum, agrees with Vara-Alleman that it is critical to know what your audience seeks. In her area, patrons lean toward more mainstream shows such as Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues.

Vara-Alleman recommends making film festivals more than a “one-dimensional experience” by choosing films that complement “hands-on” exhibits and activities. She stresses incorporating all the senses as part of the film festival and museum learning experience. Vara-Alleman also recommends getting community support and the local media involved. Radio Disney has been a great help to their museum by advertising events.

As one of their most recent programs, The Children’s Museum of Houston hosted a special presentation on June 1st of “The Mad Hot Ballroom, ” from Paramount Classics. An hour before the show, local ballroom dancers spoke with the children about ballroom dancing and gave a demonstration.

While museums offer films that broaden their visitor’s learning experience, other organizations use the film festivals and clubs as a community outreach. David Sánchez, Director of Media Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, is launching a bilingual program in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It has already been proven that bilingual programs are a hit in New Mexico.

Jon Bowman, Executive Director of The Film Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been showing films in his community for years. Bowman realizes that although their arts-oriented city is a big draw for adults, it doesn’t have much to offer children. He and his co-workers endeavor to rectify that.

For six seasons, the Film Center offered KIDS FIRST!® programming in December, running films daily from Wednesday through Sunday. The program was such a success that now The Film Center is offering weekly programming, year-round. Every Saturday morning, films are shown in English in the morning then again in Spanish.

The Film Center collaborates with local schools to provide films that meet their curriculum standards. Experts also come in and talk to the children. Bowman enjoys hearing the children use film jargon. He knows their mission is successful when youngsters, who started as interns and critics at their festival, develop careers in the film industry.

While entertaining children with mainstream programs, as well as lesser-known programs, Bowman particularly enjoys observing children learn through films and about films. Bowman recommends developing a plan for your own film festival. First, an organization should develop a short five-year plan and then develop a long-term plan. If an organization starts small, it won’t be overwhelmed and will see success as it grows.

Growth is something the majority of our film festival organizations see. Bob Neal, founder of Community Cinema in Houston, Texas, knew he wanted to focus on community projects when he retired from corporate America. He remembers when his first KIDS FIRST! ® film clubs met in a skating rink at night.

In 2004, he and his wife, Georgia, developed a successful after-school KIDS FIRST! Junior Film Critics program in Fifth Ward, Texas. With a history of being one of the lowest economic areas inside Houston, Fifth Ward children find a new hope for career advancement and self-worth in programs such as these. By the end of this summer, Neal will be bringing the Junior Film Critics program to Pleasant Hill Academy and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School.

One of the greatest assets of the KIDS FIRST!® film club is that it is not a canned program. Instead, it provides a “tool for life and life development for schools and parents,” according to Neal. Each community can tailor the KIDS FIRST!® film club to suit their needs.

According to Neal, one of the best features of KIDS FIRST!® is that it has been the “ultimate support in all we have done. They have never said ‘no’ to emotional and intellectual support. They set in motion a support for belief. If I need back-up, they are there in a heartbeat.”

The film festival providers I talked to are especially thankful for Ann Church, who acts as the liaison between our local hosts and the KIDS FIRST!® Film and Video Festival . If you want to bring the KIDS FIRST! Film and Video Festival to your area, please contact Ann at 505.989.8076.

From museum shows to bilingual programs and community redevelopment, the KIDS FIRST! Film and Video Festival our local hosts make a positive impact on children and families. Our mutual commitment to quality programming is opening doors for a media-literate tomorrow.

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
Albuquerque, NM, National Hispanic Cultural Center
Albuquerque, NM, Explora Science Center Children's Museum, Weekly
Austin, Austin Public Library, TX, Weekly at All Austin Public Libraries
Boulder, CO, Moondance Film Festival
Brookline, MA, Coolidge Corner Theater, Weekly, every Saturday
Childress, TX, Childress Public Library
Cincinnati, OH, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Monthly
Clute, TX, Clute Library, Go Wild Read Program
Crockett, TX, Crockett County Library, Go Wild Read Program
Dallas, TX, USA Film Festival*, Annual Festival (January) and Monthly (Pending)
Denver, CO, Denver Film Society, Every Saturday
Eldorado, TX, Schleicher County Public Library, Go Wild Read Program
Fort Wayne, IN, Fort Wayne Cinema Center, Weekly
Garden City, NY, Long Island Children's Museum, Weekly
Hillsboro, TX, Hillsboro City Library
Houston, TX, Children's Museum of Houston
La Crosse, WI, Children's Museum of LaCrosse, Every Friday & Saturday
La Marque, TX, LaMarque Public Library, Go Wild Read Program
Little Elm, TX, Little Elm Public Library, Go Wild Read Program
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Weekly
Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles Zoo, Summer Programming Beginning July
Milwaukee, WI, Betty Brinn Children's Museum
Nashville, TN, Belcourt Theater, Annual Festival (Feb. 18-21) + Weekly Screenings
New Orleans, LA, Louisiana Children's Museum, Weekly
New Orleans, LA, New Orleans Film Festival
Newport Beach, CA, Newport Beach Film Festival*, Annual Festival April 21 30
Odessa, TX, Ector County Library
Oklahoma City, OK, Oklahoma City Art Museum, Monthly
Ozona, TX, Crockett County Public Library
Palestine, TX, Palestine Public Library. Go Wild Read Program
Pearland, TX, Pearland Public Library
Pflugerville, TX, Pflugerville Community Library
Phoenix, AZ, Phoenix Art Museum, Monthly
Phoenix, AZ, Phoenix Film Festival*, Annual Festival April 7 10th
Round Rock, TX, Round Rock Public Library
Salt Lake City, UT, Salt Lake City Children's Film Festival*, Annual Festival (Pending)
San Jose, CA, Mexican Heritage Plaza*, Weekly (Pending)
San Juan, Puerto Rico, San Juan Children's Film Festival
Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Barbara International Film Festival*, Annual Festival June 05
Santa Fe, NM, PeaceJam, Annual Conference April and May 2005
Santa Fe, NM, KIDS FIRST! Film & Video Festival*, Annual Festival May 05
Spring, TX, Community Cinema, Community Programming on Demand
Van Alstyne, TX, Van Alstyne Public Library, Go Wild Read Program
Washington DC, Avalon Theater

Other Events:

June 6-11, Taos, New Mexico: The Taos Teen Media Camp. The conference will offer 3 week-long media workshops for high school age students from Taos County. The workshops will teach production skills for video, radio, and print media. A total of 30 students will be accepted with 10 in each workshop.

June 25-28, San Francisco: "Giving Voice to a Diverse Nation." 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.

July 11-16, Santa Clarita, Ca: “What IFFF? Kids Festival & Film Camp.” Sign-up deadline July 7, 2005. Empower children from 7-18 years of age to tell their own stories through the medium of film and screenplays and to provide a forum to facilitate networking with their peers by participating in workshop training designed to encourage excellence in their skills as future filmmakers, storytellers and citizens of the world. For more information, go to or

August 1-4, Albuquerque, NM: Summer 2005 Catalyst Institute. An intensive four-day training experience in media literacy concepts and skills. Participants are led in workshops, exercises, video screenings and discussions designed to deepen understanding of media issues and provide a solid foundation for media activism.

September 28-October 2, Las Vegas, Nevada: The 27th National Media Market will be at the newly renovated Alexis Park Resort. The National Media Market presents an exceptional opportunity for media professionals who purchase for public libraries, universities, media/technology centers, and educational broadcasting to screen the newest and best quality motion media from more than fifty prominent producers and distributors. KIDS FIRST! President, Ranny Levy, is a panelist on 'building library collections.' For more information email, or visit the website,

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:



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.

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