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The Newsstand - What's Hot!


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The Newsstand - What's Hot

Christine Pollock, Newsletter Editor
I find that a great part of the information I have, was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way. - Franklin P. Adams, 1881-1960, American Journalist, Humorist


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

1. Letter from the Editor
Letter from the President
$5 Off Coupon for KIDS FIRST! eNewsletter Subscribers
Drawing for four free KIDS FIRST! Web Store Collections
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. Media as an Educational Resource by Christine L. Pollock
National Media Education Conference 2005: Giving Voice to a Diverse Nation by Terry Solowey
11. Events
* 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 Readin Rainbow Producer, 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
2005: Jan / Feb / Mar / April / May / June / July
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.

Dear Friends,

I can't wait until September when life will calm down. I can't believe I'm saying that, but it's true. This summer has been very fun, but it seems like my family is traveling non-stop, and I'm ready to settle into a daily rhythm again.

I just returned home after a trip to Long Island to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. What an inspiration that woman has been to me in her peacefulness and in her dedication to make the most out of life.

While I was there for the party, I enjoyed playing with my four nieces. They seemed to enjoy helping me by viewing titles for the NAPPA awards, which KIDS FIRST!® isjudging. My eldest niece, Ashley, a budding writer, also helped me outline this month's main article (Thank you, Ashley).

Since school begins this month for my nieces and many children around the country, this month's newsletter focuses on the educational aspect of children's media. Reading, science, history and world cultures are examples of the many subjects that film and other media can enhance. One of our featured festival titles, "Families of Vietnam," is highlighted this month in Nick Jr. Magazine (under "Best of the Fest" on page 25).

All the time, more people seem to be aware of KIDS FIRST!® and the work we do. Recently, on a flight on JetBlue, my seatmate's television program choice caught my eye. She was watching Colorcalm Skies, a title I reviewed for KIDS FIRST!® that is one of this month's new endorsements. My kids and I loved the title, as did other jurors. It received a KIDS FIRST!® endorsement and is currently available for sale on our Web Store ( It tickled me to see the woman next to me enjoying it so much.

I hope you enjoy this last month of summer. 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...Contact Chris.

Christine Pollock, Editor
Contact Me

Dear Readers,

Right you are, Chris, about the growing awareness of KIDS FIRST!®. I'm writing this letter to you from my hotel room in Hawaii overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a sunny, slightly breezy day. Yesterday, while floating in the ocean, I got into a conversation with a young mother of two. When I told her that I worked for KIDS FIRST!® she replied, "I just love what KIDS FIRST!® does. It's such an invaluable resource." Furthermore, she told me how when she first became a mom, a colleague who runs a day care center gave her some older KIDS FIRST!® -endorsed videos and how she found out about our program through watching the videos. She just couldn't say enough good things about our work and you can imagine how good that made me feel, especially on my day off!

I want to tell you about something else happening around KIDS FIRST!® that we’re very excited about. As regular readers of this newsletter know, our Web Store has evolved over the past several months. One of my tasks is assembling special collections for you – collections that address your special interests or state of your children. For example, I created several ‘Best for New Baby’ collections, another one for grandparents, several ‘Best of Book-based Titles’ and ‘Best Music for (different age groups)’ collections. I admit, it’s been fun! The ‘collections’ project allows me to watch a bunch of programs that I had only peeked at previously. In the end, I was surprised myself by how many titles really are extraordinary and, hey, I didn’t even mention that these are ALL independent titles. Some producers are better known than others – for instance, I’ve included some selections from Weston Woods/ Scholastic’s great literature-based titles. But, absolutely no major studio titles are included in these special collections because we look for things that you won’t readily find elsewhere.

As an incentive to you, we’re offering a $5 off coupon to every new or existing KIDS FIRST! News subscriber. Plus, we’re giving away four of our special collections in a random drawing on September 15. Read below for the details or go directly to the web store at

The other fun thing that I’ve been doing this month is jurying the United Parenting Publication’s NAPPA Awards. The winners will be announced in November or December at as well as in their monthly publications in 13 different cities. If you’re not sure whether your city has one, visit and check.

One more thing - the woman at the beach asked if there was anything she could do to help us, as a volunteer. I encouraged her to join our jury. I told her that if she really wanted to be the cutting edge of knowing what’s hot in children’s media, to become a juror. It’s true. Our jurors usually evaluate programming four months or more before it is released to the public. And, they get to keep anything they approve so it’s a great way to build up their personal library. To join the jury, sign up at Our online training allows you to start any time.

Much love and aloha,

Ranny Levy
Founder and President, KIDS FIRST!


Every KIDS FIRST! eNewsletter subscriber gets a $5 coupon and a chance to win a FREE DVD Collection! You don't need to do anything to enter. All subscribers to the KIDS FIRST! eNewsletter are automatically entered into our Back to School "Get Brainy!" Contest. We will have four Winners in all. Each winner will receive one of four special Get Brainy! Packages from the KIDS FIRST! online store.

Pass this information to your friends who can easily subscribe by visiting the KIDS FIRST! home page OR

Win One of the Following Packages

Our Best Baby Collection. Ages 0-2

These are four of our best DVDs for teaching language skills to your baby. All have received all-star ratings from our jurors. Value $64.80.
So Smart! Colors
So Smart! Vol. 1: Sights and Sounds
So Smart! Vol. 3. Letters
My Baby Can Talk - First Signs



Pre-school Literature 101. Ages 2-5.

Literature based titles for pre-schoolers. Introduce your child to books by using DVDs to accompany your reading. It works! Value $44.85.
Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type and More Fun on the Farm
Is your Mama a Llama? And More Stories about Growing Up
Snowy Day, and More Ezra Jack Keats Stories



Get up and do it! Ages 2-5.

That's the message here. These are not for couch potatoes. Value $44.92.
Yoga Kids Finger Plays with "Miss Lori"
Nursery Tap, Hip to Toe




Learning! and Learning More! Ages 2-5.
Children learn from everything they watch, whether it's good or bad. Here are titles that teach lessons about behavior and language development. Value $66.83.
My Best English, Vol. 2: Alphabet
King Otis and the Kingdom of Goode: a Tale of Sharing
My Best English, Vol. 3: Numbers
Brainy Baby: Sing Along Songs


The KIDS FIRST! free newsletter is filled with news and editorial about children and media, reviews of newly endorsed titles, interviews from experts such as Center for Media Literacy Founder, Liz Thoman, Reading Rainbow's Dr. Twila Legget and Sesame Workshop's Dr. Ed Green.

Subscribe today and receive a $5 coupon good for any purchase at the KIDS FIRST! store!

KIDS FIRST! is an opt-in service. All subscription information is kept confidential, never to be sold or released. To subscribe to this free service, fill out the form in the orange bar at the bottom of this page, and your subscription will begin with the next issue.

Contest Rules: Contest entry ends midnight September 15, 2005. Winners drawn September 16, 2005.
Winners will be selected by a random drawing from the email addresses of all current newsletter subscribers. If you're already subscribed, you're already entered! Four lucky winners will receive their choice of a special Get Brainy! Package of KIDS FIRST! endorsed DVDs and Audio CDs. Contest winner(s) will have their first name, state and prize listed on the KIDS FIRST! website and will be notified by email. If KIDS FIRST! has not received an email or phone reply by the 16th day after the drawing date, another winner will be selected with the same process.



Q. Why is it that in the KIDS FIRST!® newsletter, a few titles were listed as endorsed, but when you read the comments about them, they don't seem good at all. What's the point of "endorsing" them?

A. Good question. Different aspects appeal to different people. The KIDS FIRST!® endorsement is not an award, it is an endorsement which guarantees that the title at the very least meets or exceeds our baseline criteria of no gratuitous violence, no inappropriate sexual behavior, no bias in terms of race, gender or religion, no condescension towards children and no replicable unsafe behavior.
---Those titles that receive the highest scores are given a three, or "All Star" rating.
---Titles that meet or exceed the criteria receive a two, or "Endorsed Title" rating.
---Titles that meet the baseline criteria but require some extra consideration on the part of the parent or caregiver receive a one-star or "Qualified Endorsement" rating.


Congratulations to Jennifer Donahue on graduating from our online KIDS FIRST!® juror training program!

Jennifer writes, "I am so excited to now be a part of KIDS FIRST!® My name is Jennifer Donahue and I am originally from Bakersfield, CA. I moved to Arizona to pursue a degree in psychology. I am now the Kids Works instructor for a non-profit agency called Save the Family in sunny Mesa, Arizona. Save the Family provides transitional housing for homeless families with children. It is my job to teach psycho-educational classes to the children of our agency. We teach many classes to help children learn skills for self-sufficiency and to use throughout life. I am so pleased with KIDS FIRST!® as it will give the children a chance to learn critical thinking skills while enjoying many forms of media. I cannot wait to see the looks on the children's faces as we continue to receive new and exciting forms of media to review."


To keep up with the fast-paced growth at KIDS FIRST!®, we offer juror training online. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a KIDS FIRST!® juror, now's a great time to get started. There is a minimal $40 fee for the training, which is fully refunded after you have been active as a juror for six months. Jurors keep the titles they review and approve. What a wonderful way for teachers, librarians, parents, daycare providers and others involved with children to help KIDS FIRST!® while building their own quality media library. To register or get more information, please visit:


World Necklace or Window Display
omplements the KIDS FIRST!® story title, "Baku the Travel Bug: Making Friends." 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.

Supplies needed: Wax paper; White glue; food coloring; paint brushes; paper plates to mix glue on; String or yarn; A photo of Earth.

1. Place wax paper on top of the Earth picture.
2. Mix your food coloring into small batches of glue for the colors you desire (usually, green and blue do well).
3. Spread the glue mixtures on the plastic, covering the areas of land and water.
Put your yarn in a glob of glue at the top.
Let it dry for a few days.
Peel the dried glue off the waxed paper.
Hang in a window or wear and enjoy!

*** Leapfrog-Letter Factory.
Ages 2-5. 30 min. By following Leap, Lily and Tad on a wild adventure to the letter factory, children learn the letters of the alphabet, phonics and listening skills as they watch newly made letters learn to pronounce their sounds. Adult Juror Comments: Brilliant. Very creative. Careful script, perfect for the emerging reader. Kid Juror Comments: Really got kids excited about the sounds of letters. They talked about it for days afterwards.

*** Together We're Better. Ages 5-8. 30 min. A story about teamwork. In this fun-filled adventure, both float-builders and good sports learn life's most important lessons: together we're better. Adult Juror Comments: Excellent! Emphasizes friendship, not giving up, teamwork, and it's funny. Kid Juror Comments: Engaging. Kids were interested in the characters and how they helped each other. "They taught us that, if we work together, things work out better."

** Raven Tales: Raven Steals the Sun. Ages 5-12. 24 min. Join the wild and funny adventures of Raven, the most powerful, and one might add, trickiest troublemaker of First Nations Folklore. He is joined by his steadfast brother, Eagle, and the mysterious Frog. Together they will learn the secret that will release light and life into the world, a secret that might just burn a few feathers as well. Starring Dr. Evan Adams, Ian Reid and Carmen Moore. Adult Juror Comments: "I can't wait to see the rest of this series." Well produced. Very authentic and true to the original myth from the Northwest Coast. Kid Juror Comments: Enchanting. Kids really relate to the stories and asked questions afterwards. "It's a little bit dark, but I understand that's what it's about."


Those titles that receive the highest scores are given an "All Star" (three star rating).
Titles that meet or exceed the criteria receive an "Endorsed Title" (two star rating). Titles that meet the baseline criteria but require some extra consideration on the part of the parent or caregiver receive a "Qualified Endorsement" (one star rating).

Video/DVD-Ages 0-2

** BABYPRO: LET'S MAKE A SPLASH.Provides a playful introduction to swimming, diving and surfing. Captivating images of little mouths blowing bubbles, babies splashing and children riding waves are synchronized with lively classical compositions. Adult Juror Comments: Well produced. Good sequencing. Introduces children to water play; develops basic concepts and ends with high dives and surfing. A great aid for kids who have a fear of water. Covers a broad range of age-appropriate material. Kid Juror Comments: Caught the kids' attention for the most part. "I liked the diving and surfing." Younger ones commented, "I have a noodle like that!" "They swim just like me." The one-year-olds kept saying "water" and "swim" and tried to touch the water on the TV. Younger kids danced along to the music. One child insisted, quite animatedly, that he surfs (he doesn't). DVD. 35 min.; $12.98; Age: 0-5. BABYPRO, LLC.

** COLORCALM SKIES. Designed to create a colorful and calming atmosphere for your baby. This simple combination of color and continuously drifting skies is designed to relax both parent and baby. Produced in association with PANTONE, the world's color authority. Adult Juror Comments: Unusual concept, sort of like wallpaper with various cloud formations floating across the screen. The viewer chooses the colors and music. Adults enjoyed the classical music. Could be nifty played on a large flat-screen or in a hospital setting. Teachers loved how it relaxed the kids. Kid Juror Comments: Seemed to really relax kids. "Children sitting in their bouncy seats bounced, babbled and sucked their pacifiers to the music." Even older children were intrigued by the cloud formations and enjoyed selecting the sky colors and music. Older kids talked about that the clouds looked like water, a giant snowball, dust, a dog, and a volcano. "My 2-year-old went back to playing with her toys after the first few minutes of watching it but didn't want me to turn it off. She liked it as background music and it seemed to calm her." DVD. 180 min.; $19.99; Age: 1-5. COLORCALM.

DVD and Audio, Ages 2-5

*** ANIMAL GROOVE. James Coffey's CD has kids hopping like kangaroos, soaring like eagles, and enjoying diverse musical styles with his creative lyrics that take a journey through an imaginative animal kingdom. Adult Juror Comments: Loved it. Very upbeat. Transitions are excellent. Lyrics are informative while entertaining. Combines silly songs with songs that make you think. Vocabulary is perfect for young children. Lyrics are funny, catchy, and contagious. Even the "Dust Bunny" song is done in such a way that youngest kids can relate. Kid Juror Comments: YES! "I just really love it. It has groovy music." Kids were genuinely captivated. They danced, sang along and asked for it again. A favorite was "Jellyfish Jump." They loved the piano playing and the song "I Want to Fly." It made them fly! Audio. 40 min.; $14.95; Age: 2-8. BLUE VISION MUSIC.

** GINA D'S KIDS CLUB: IMAGINATION. Gina turns her clubhouse into a magical pretend world of fantasy and fun. Birdie and Hammy use their imagination to turn the living room couch into an airplane. The BoBo Blocks go on an imaginary train ride to find a home for KiKi the kitten. Mr. Pockets leads an imaginary band. Adult Juror Comments: Overall entertaining. Solid, interactive program encourages kids to use their imaginations. Lots of variety: many characters, sets and colors. Interesting mix of animation, real people and terrific music. Summary at the end recaps the adventures. "Some parts are better than others." Kid Juror Comments: Something for everyone. Some sang the ABC song and loved the train. Some named instruments and thought the starfish song was funny. Some danced and made animal sounds. They laughed and bopped to the songs. "You have to practice to get good at something." "It uses the imagination." "It was too silly." TV. 28 min.; $14.95; Age: 2-5. MG STUDIOS.

Video/DVD-Ages 5-8

** BABAK AND FRIENDS - A FIRST NOROOZ. A heart-warming animation about a young Iranian-American boy learning to appreciate his Persian roots. Stars Oscar nominee, Sohereh ghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog), CBS star Catherine Bell (JAG) and Persian cinema icon, Parviz Sayyad. Adult Juror Comments: Attractive, clever characters. Difficult to understand them at times. Animation style very simple, two-dimensional. Learning about the Iranian holiday, Norooz, encourages curiosity about other people's traditions. Family life is shown in a positive way. Encourages children to stand up for what they believe in. "Personally, I enjoyed learning about the Perisan/Iranian New Year." Kid Juror Comments: Corny, but interesting. "This kid is made fun of because he doesn't celebrate Easter, he celebrates Narooz." "It reminds me of Aladdin; the people look similar." "I'm used to the way things are in America, but this movie made me think about people in other countries, and how I'd feel if I was in a new place." DVD. 30 min.; $19.99; Age: 5-12. NOROOZ PRODUCTIONS.

*** I LOVE TOY TRAINS, PARTS 4 - 6. Learn about signals; how steam, electric and diesel engines work; the names of freight cars; how track is repaired; different types of bridges; ride the Dino Express. A mix of great music, bloopers, and exciting train action. Adult Juror Comments: Excellent production. A bit long for all but the serious train buff. Lots to learn in this program - how railroad ties are replaced, types of train engines, types of train cars, toy train gauges, types of bridges and lots more. Flows well. Uses both adult and child narrators. Good humor such as a part in which toy dinosaurs are riding the train, eating the buildings, drinking from the water tower, etc. Kid Juror Comments: Kids loved it though it was too long for a single viewing. Break it up into segments. "My favorite parts were when the dinos and animals were riding the trains, when the door kept opening and knocking things over and the crazy train." They liked the sound effects when funny things happened. "We learned about a swing bridge and saw the machine knocking out the old ties." DVD. 90 min.; $24.95; Age: 4-8. TM BOOKS AND VIDEO.

** MAYA & MIGUEL: FAMILY TIME. The series chronicles the adventures of ten-year-old twins, Maya & Miguel Santos, and features their family and a richly diverse neighborhood of friends. While every episode takes humorous twists and turns, the underlying message is that shared happiness is greater than personal gain. Adult Juror Comments: Combines cute characters with a good story line regarding spending time with your family. It comfortably shows three generations of characters from a Hispanic family. Portrays positive family values and emphasizes not giving in when things go wrong. Kid Juror Comments: "This is a good show about spending time with your family. It teaches that sometimes we mess up, but we forgive each other and learn how to figure things out." "The characters are nice to each other. The story is funny. Everyone sticks together and they don't yell or freak out." Video. 28 min.; $14.99; Age: 4-10. SCHOLASTIC ENTERTAINMENT.

Video/DVD-Ages 8-12

** PICTURE PERFECT. This award-winning video challenges the unrealistic media depictions of females surrounding us. It makes an excellent discussion starter for a wide range of settings and children of different ages and backgrounds. Gives voice to a diverse group of girls and women. Adult Juror Comments: Examines myths about female appearance as exploited by the media. Important topic that doesn't just state the problem but offers solutions. Shows how real people and media images are not alike. Explores the different ways in which young females are "brain-washed" by deceptive advertising. Excellent photography and comments by diverse group of women, young and old, varied races. Promotes good health and positive self-esteem. Kid Juror Comments: Shows how media exploits women as sex objects. "Very true to life. Stereotyping influences us. We feel inadequate if we're not drop-dead gorgeous." "I never thought about other races and what they have to deal with. The statistics were really interesting." "They used music and jokes that I could relate to." "I wish they had included boys in this." Video/DVD. 40 min.; $99.95; Age: 10-25. PICTUREPERFECT PRODUCTIONS.


Bailey’s Billion$. L. 94 min.

It’s one doggone lucky pooch, a sweet and savvy talking golden retriever, Bailey, who inherits a billion-dollar fortune from his devoted owner, Constance Pennington. His shy guardian, Ted, a renowned animal behaviorist and the only one who can speak “Doggish,” becomes attracted to Marge, an environmental and animal activist. Marge works at the Animal Rights and Research Foundation (ARRF) and is the single mother of a 12-year-old girl named Sam. Director: David Devine; Writer: Mary Walsh & Heather Conkie; Actors: Dean Cain, Laurie Holden, Tim Curry, Jennifer Tilly, Max Baker, Jon Lovitz (as Bailey). Ages 6-12. Echo Bridge Entertainment.

Because of Winn Dixie. L. 106 min.

Based on the best-selling book, Because of Winn Dixie is the heartwarming ‘tail’ of a young girl (Annasophia Robb) whose life is changed by a scruffy, fun-loving pooch she names Winn-Dixie. The special bond between them works magic on her reserved dad (Jeff Daniels) and the eccentric townspeople they meet during one unforgettable summer. Director: Wayne Wang; Original music by Rachel Portman; Actors: Annasophia Robb, Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Eva Marie Saint; Dave Matthews. Close-captioned. Ages 8-12. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Berenstain Bears: Bears Out And About! A. 82 min (episodic)

Join the Berenstain Bears as they take to the outdoors. Includes the adventures: The Summer Job, The Haunted Lighthouse, Don’t Pollute, white Water Mystery, Hug and Make Up, and That Stump Must Go. Ages 2-5. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Caillou: Caillou’s Family Fun. A. 80 min. E.
Daddy lends Caillou his old camera. With Daddy as an assistant, Caillou takes great pictures of every member of his family, including Gilbert. When Caillou, Mommy and Rosie look at old family pictures, they reminisce about the very first time Daddy brought Gilbert home. He was just a little kitten. Caillou has all kinds of adventures with his furry friends, including his own pet cat, Gilbert. When Gilbert gets stuck in a tr
ee, Caillou gets to ride in a real fire engine! Ages 2-5. Paramount Home Entertainment/PBS.

Dragon Tales: Sing and Dance In Dragon Land. A. 39 min.

The Dragon Tales® adventures feature dragons as playmates, helping children build critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills. “Sing and Dance in Dragon Land” includes the most popular songs from this top-rated PBS series. Ages 2-5. Sony Pictures Entertainment.

I Lost My Bear. A. 10 min. S.

What do you do when your best toy disappears and no one will help you find it? Jules Feiffer's spunky little detective learns that if you keep on searching, you might just discover more than you expected! Narrated by Halley Feiffer. Directed by Gene Deitch. ALA Notable Book by Jules Feiffer Illustrator: Jules Feiffer. Ages 4-7. Weston Woods/Scholastic.

The Koala Brothers: Meet The Koala Brothers. A. 88 min. E.

Set in the Australian Outback, follows the adventures of two friendly koalas, Frank and Buster, whose mission in life is to help others. Their daily patrols in their yellow plane seek out anyone in need of help. A cast of characters join Frank and Buster in their adventures. Includes: Archie's New Home - When Archie the crocodile moves into the old house by the water hole, he decides to invite everyone to a party to celebrate but no one shows up. He learns that no one has come because they’re all afraid of the old house. The Koala Brothers help Archie paint the house, cheer it up, and send out invitations to another party. Also Sea Captain Ned, The Thirsty Penguin, a Letter For George, Josie's Big Jump, Alice Can't Remember, Ned's Scary Night, What Mitzi Wants. Spanish track. Ages 2-5. Lions Gate Family Home Entertainment

Paprika. A. 7 ½ min. S.

One night a scientist wakes up from a nightmare, and goes to the kitchen to get a glass of water. He sees a bowl of red peppers on the table, and decides to try one. Little does he know how this decision will change everything in his life, Paprika is a modern day folk-tale about the discovery of vitamin C in a pepper. Scientific discovery is seeing what every one else has seen, but thinking what no one else has thought." (Albert Szent-Gyorgyi) Writer, Director: Kati Nivelt Anguelov; Composer: Patrick Kirst. Ages 5-8

Paz. A/L/Puppets. 4/11 min. E.

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: BRAVE OLD WORLD- Paz has written a book, ‘The Bird Build Her Nest,’ and he takes us through it. PAPPY'S BOOK - Paz can’t decide on what book he wants read to him at story time - there are so many good ones, he wants to have them all read to him! THE PLAY'S THE THING - When Paz and Big Penguin pretend they are different types of eccentric animals that make even goofier sounds, it reminds him of a story… KITE FLIGHT - Paz scurries around Big Penguin’s office pretending he’s an airplane. He’s having so much fun he pretends he’s other flying things – a spaceship, a seagull, and even a hot air balloon. 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. English. Ages 2-5. From Discovery Kids.

Urban Rescuers. L. 40 min.

Astonishingly, nearly 4 million stray or feral cats inhabit the streets, parks, back alleys and backyards of Los Angeles County, and they are reproducing at an alarming rate. The current solution is round-up and kill. But is there a better way? Urban Rescuers profiles a group of fiercely dedicated animal welfare crusaders in Los Angeles who rescue feral cats from the certain death they face upon landing in animal shelters. The methodology involves a controversial solution for feral cats known as “TNR” (trap, neuter, return), which calls for sterilizing these animals and then allowing them to live out their lives in the wild. Ages 12-18. Planetworks Productions.

Read about our new film festival selections at


Richard Dreyfus Interviewed by a KIDS FIRST!® Associate

Read Arthur Kanegis' excellent article, "Richard Dreyfuss travels from Hollywood to 'Docuwood' to save Democracy" at

Raven Tales in New Zealand

Raven Tales, the first computer-animated film written, produced, designed, voiced, and directed by an all Native American team, recently was showcased at the Maori Film Festival in Wairoa, New Zealand. It won the Best International Indigenous Film Award, bring a total of 15 international awards for this short film, including the KIDS FIRST!® endorsement. Raven Tales was the only film from the United States to receive an express invitation to attend the festival.

Filmmakers and CQCM members, Simon James and Chris Kientz both attended the film festival under the sponsorship of National Geographic All Roads Film Project and screened the film to three sold-out audiences, totaling over 900 viewers. Along with their participation at the festival, Raven Tales was picked up for broadcast on New Zealand's national broadcaster, Maori TV. James and Kientz also met with New Zealand's Prime Minster and local dignitaries and stars of New Zealand cinema, including Cliff Curtis of Whale Rider fame.

After the festival, the Raven Tales team announced the production of the next 12 episodes of Raven Tales, as well as broadcast licensing deals for seven international markets including Canada and Japan.


Job Opening - Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Seeks Director

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is accepting applications for the position of Festival Director. Email a resume (.pdf, .doc or email text) and short letter of interest to <[email protected]>.

Prizes for Teachers Using Media
Vernier Software and Technology, in conjunction with the National Science Teachers Association (NTSA), is awarding prizes to teachers in grades K-16 for the innovative use of data-collection technology in the science classroom. Winners will receive $1,000 in cash, $1,000 worth of Vernier products, and up to $1,000 toward the cost of attending the annual NSTA conference. For more information, go to

Current Coming Soon to Your TV
This TV station, a brain-child of Al Gore, is ready to run. It debuted August first and is aimed at twenty-somethings. Current will be available (though not necessarily easy to find) in about 20 million homes - most of them subscribers to the DirecTV satellite service or Time Warner Cable's digital package. In Manhattan, it will be channel 103 on cable; in Los Angeles, 116.

"Hands Off My NPR"
Jim Terr laments the crackdown on public broadcasting in this brilliantly written song. In spite of political frustrations, you will find yourself laughing and singing along with this singer who knows the importance of public radio. Downloads can be found at


Kids Investigate on PBS
In a special back-to-school episode of PBS' HISTORY DETECTIVES premiering Monday, September 5 at 9PM ET/PT, three junior super sleuths will help investigate the mysteries behind a Civil War era doll, a pair of early 20th century ballet shoes and amusement park memorabilia. This marks the first time that the expert hosts of HISTORY DETECTIVES are joined by kids who assist them in their investigations.

Want to Get a Call From Elmo?
Lagardere Active North America and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, have launched a unique service where that special child in your life can receive a phone call from one of their favorite Muppets, Elmo. With over 100 different calls to choose from, Elmo can congratulate a newly potty trained child, wish someone a Happy Birthday or introduce a new number or letter in that loveable voice children love. Go to: to set up your call.

In Your House and in School-Enjoy Science through Film
On July 19, Discovery Kids in the U.S. picked up Beyond Distribution's educational series for kids, Backyard Science. The 26x30-minute show, aimed at 6- to 12-year-olds, sees kids exploring the mysteries of life-from their own backyards. "The big plus with this series is that it is highly entertaining but also educational and it showcases experiments that any child can do no matter where they are in the world," said Sherry Fynbo, the VP of sales at Beyond Distribution.

Media as an Educational Resource
by Christine L. Pollock

Back to school! The signs are around us. Although it seems like summer has just begun, the stores brutally remind us that it's time to get back to the classroom. Time to buy the pencils. Time to purchase notebooks. Time to return to television.

Television? That wasn't a school requirement when I was growing up. However, in today's media-infused world, television as a teacher in the home and in the classroom is a reality. Fortunately, there is a variety of educational programming available that can enhance almost every child's learning experience.

Programming designed to educate can also be fun for children. Caregivers will be glad to know what educators do: that certain producers make every effort to meet their state's learning standards. Behind the scenes, these producers employ teams of talented people who dedicate long hours and expertise to ensure that children are learning through their high-quality productions, as well as being entertained.

Programs such as Blue's Clues and Maya & Miguel have nearly one hundred people working to make certain that each episode meets the highest standards. Deborah Forte, creator and executive producer of Maya & Miguel, president of Scholastic Media, and former KIDS FIRST!® board member asserts that the adage, "It takes a village," couldn't be truer. Each show is the result of a "very creative collaborative process," she says.

According to Forte, the goals of Maya & Miguel are "to support English language learners" and to "show the value of our culturally diverse mosaic." (This show is so well written that it also works in reverse. My husband and I tape Maya & Miguel so our boys can learn Spanish.) In order to meet the educational goals of Maya and Miguel, an advisory board made up of researchers, children's literacy specialists and media experts was assembled at the beginning of the series..

Once a theme / storyline is set for each show, the writing team goes to work incorporating specific vocabulary words into an entertaining story. Even educational programming must, first and foremost, be enjoyable to the viewer. The characters need to be strong and the message clear.

The Maya & Miguel team judge their success by the messages they receive from its viewers such as: "Abuela Elena is like my abuelita." Kudos go to the show's positive representation of families similar to the viewers' families. Personally, I know the show is an educational success when my children ask to play games on its website (, or run around conversing in basic Spanish "just for fun" after watching an episode.

Fun is big part of Discovery Kids' programming as well. Marjorie Kaplan, mother of two and general manager for Discovery Kids, emphasizes that fun and learning are not mutually exclusive terms. When the story is fun, the kids don't realize they're learning.

For example, Discovery Kids' Time Warp Trio, based on the books by Jon Scieszka, is a new action-adventure animated series for six- to ten-year-olds in which modern kids go back in time. Through puzzles and challenges, the audacious trio entertains viewers while subtly teaching history. Another Discovery Kids' show, Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, teaches science to older children through its riveting stories and interactive website ( The site is full of information and experiments that can be done in school or at home.

As parents and caregivers, we appreciate the benefits of educational media in the home, but there are many occasions when the school room setting actually catalyzes the educational content of a program. A good example is the film, I Wrote That! (IWT Productions). The executive producers and co-creators, Sandy Watson and Jaspreet Dhillon, take stories written by children and turn them into DVDs with talented actors and catchy music.

This show certainly encourages children at home to write. But teachers, too, are discovering the benefits of this title in the classroom, where groups of children can perform the plays as well as write them together. Last fall, I used these films to guide approximately eighty home-schooled children in writing and performing their own plays. As a teacher, I was pleased to note that the project covered several areas of the NY state curriculum standards in English, writing and music.

This fall, IWT and Cover Concepts, an entity of Marvel Comics, are working together on an activity-comic book that will reach approximately 800,000 kids. The book is designed to inspire the children to write. Stories created by the children can be submitted online to IWT Productions at and might just make it onto the next DVD!

Many people, myself included, are wary of media in the classroom, fearing that it will be used carelessly. Dr. Alice Wilder, educational psychologist, producer of Blue's Clues and developer of Super Why, points to a solution when she advises educators to pick programs with topics that enhance learning both at school and home. In fact, the upcoming show, Super Why, is based on this premise. Children watching Super Why will help the main character solve problems just as kids solve problems in their own lives. This encourages children to turn off the TV and go research solutions or explanations even after they are out of the school room. This kind of hand's-on media provides a "springboard" for discussion between kids, educators and parents.

Sometimes, finding the best media is the most difficult part of incorporating it into classroom lessons. Teachers already have so much to do, and in our media-saturated society it is time-consuming to find quality in a sea of mediocrity. KIDS FIRST!® can help educators locate the best resources for their classroom. We also recommend, and

Beth Richman, director of development and creative executive for Maya & Miguel, states that media can be "one more tool for teachers to take advantage of." Books, film, computers…they are like pieces of a puzzle and can work together to help educate children in classrooms and at home.

Combining books and film in education is a goal David Kottwitz, history teacher at Bolivar-Richburg in western NY, hopes to achieve. This year he is offering an elective course for eleventh- and twelfth-graders in history. The entire course will be taught through film. The students will meet with Kottwitz three times a week for eighty-minute class periods and will discuss the films they view.

Starting with US history, Kottwitz plans to use media to educate the students in media literacy and guide them in interpretation of historical events. Eventually, he would like to teach world history through media made in different countries, showing how different countries have different perspectives on events.

In the home and in schools, film can enhance the learning experience. We at KIDS FIRST!® commend parents and educators who conscientiously choose quality programming for their children, and we praise producers and their collaborative teams for their great efforts to ensure that caregivers and educators have quality films.

Giving Voice to a Diverse Nation
by Terry Solowey

National Media Education Conference 2005
June 25-28, 2005; San Francisco, CA;

The NMEC brought together more than 450 participants from around the country including a mix of seasoned veterans and new faces interested in learning more about instituting media literacy into their various programs. Also attending were youth producers, whose unique creative voices were heard when the exceptional videos they made during the four-day conference as part of the Modern Media Makers M3 program were shown at the closing session.

"Giving Voice to a Diverse Nation" accomplished just that. Speakers and presenters alike came to share their passion about the important media work they are doing. Diversity was defined broadly to include racial and ethnic identity, gender, age, economic status and regional background.

Diversity was well reflected with the inspiring keynote speakers. Kenny Smith, a passionate young teacher from Maryland, opened with a talk about hip-hop music in today's teenage culture and how "voice is expression." He showed us the positive impact hip-hop has had on his students. Alan November, internationally known leader in educational technology, enlightened and surprised us with 21st century technologies. I was struck by the creative uses and endless possibilities of the internet, and how young people are optimally using it to share and publish their written stories through "blogging" and a variety of media tools.

The impact of expanding communication boundaries on student motivation was powerfully conveyed. University of London professor David Buckingham challenged our ideas about media, urging us to look at the positive experiences young people are getting through their media interactions. Writer, teacher and public speaker Carlos Cortez and Ronald Takaki, scholar in multicultural studies, inspired us with their personal stories, motivating us to think in new ways. Last but not least, Gloria Tristani, former FCC Commissioner, an advocate of minority and consumer rights, and currently Managing Director of the Office of Communication at the United Church of Christ, gave suggestions on how people can make media reflect and serve their needs and interests.

A diverse group of workshop offerings, nightly screenings of media literacy films and curriculum resources rounded out an informative, inspiring and enlightening conference. The Center for Media Literacy/GPN Resource Center, the Media Literate Media Awards to Jon Stewart (via video), Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield of NPR's "On the Media," and Van Jones, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights all added to the event.

I believe everyone walked away with a lot to think about. Bob Dylan once sang to us, "The Times They Are A-Changin,'" and decades later, they still are. As someone who grew up when there were only three network television channels with PBS on the horizon, I am amazed to see the rapid changes in the variety of media available. Still, program content is key. Whether delivered via the internet, your cell phone, or via your HDTV, media messages have an impact. My concern is, and always has been, how to get children and youth to find and use media that are beneficial. Clearly the M3 youth media makers at the conference displayed a keen knowledge of delivering cutting edge, original, fresh perspectives. It was encouraging and exciting to hear their voices. In these times of great concern, they gave me renewed hope for the future.

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, National Hispanic Cultural Center, NM.
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
Brady, FM Buck Richards Memorial Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Brookline, Coolidge Corner Theater, MA, Weekly, every Saturday
Childress, Childress Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Clute, Clute Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Crockett, Crockett County Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Dallas, USA Film Festival*, TX, Annual Festival (January) and Monthly (Pending)
Denver, Denver Film Society, CO, Every Saturday
Eldorado, Schleicher County Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Cinema Center, IN, Weekly
Garden City, Long Island Children's Museum, NY, Weekly
Hillsboro, Hillsboro City Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Houston, Children's Museum of Houston, TX, Daily
La Crosse, Children's Museum of LaCrosse, WI, Every Friday & Saturday
LaMarque, LaMarque Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Little Elm, Little Elm Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, Weekly
Los Angeles, Los Angeles Zoo, CA, Summer Programming
Milwaukee, Betty Brinn Children's Museum
Nashville, Belcourt Theater, TN, Annual Festival (Feb. 18-21) + Weekly Screenings
New Orleans, Louisiana Children's Museum, LA, Weekly
Newport Beach, Newport Beach Film Festival*, CA, Annual Festival April 21-30
Odessa, Ector County Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Art Museum, OK, Monthly
Ozona, Crockett County Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Palestine, Palestine Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Pearland, Pearland Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Pflugerville, Pflugerville Community Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, AZ, Monthly
Phoenix, Phoenix Film Festival*, AZ, Annual Festival April 7-10th
Providence, Rhode Island Film Festival, RI, August 9-14
Round Rock, Round Rock Public Library, Go Wild Read Program
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, Film Center at the Cinema Café, NM, every Saturday
Santa Fe, PeaceJam, NM, Annual Conference, spring
Spring, Community Cinema, TX, Community Programming on Demand
Van Alstyne, Van Alstyne Public Library, Go Wild Read Program, TX
Washington, DC, Avalon Theater, Weekly

Other Events:

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 [email protected], or visit the website,

November 3- 6, 2005: Boca Raton, Florida
Against the Neoliberal Tide: Media and Democracy in the 21st Century, an international conference of the Union for Democratic Communications.

April 2006: Taos. New Mexico
The Taos Teen Media Conference is now in the planning stages.

October 8-9, 2006 (Columbus Day weekend, exact days TBD): Burlington, Vermont
Bi-annual conference of the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) at Champlain College.

To add your event to this list, please send a notice to chris.

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:


Contact Ann ************************

Send comments, questions and feedback to chris

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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) or send an email to Our Jury Coordinator.

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

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