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The Newsstand - KIDS FIRST!® News 2006 - What's Hot


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The Newsstand - What's Hot

Christine Pollock, Newsletter Editor
"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


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Turning your TV Time into Quality Time
January 17, 2006 Issue #1b
Christine L. Pollock, Editor
Ranny Levy, Publisher
[email protected]

1. Letters from the Editor and President
2. Web Store Features
4. New Endorsements
5. Festival Titles
New Members/Renewing Members
7. Media News
8. Family and Parenting News
9. Using Media Effectively by Christine L. Pollock
10. Crafts and Activities: Balance from Dr. Toy and Paper Dolls Dance Hip to Toe
11. Festival City Schedule and Events

* Permission to forward or reprint the content herein is granted with complete attribution.

Interview with Center for Media Literacy Founder, Liz Thoman

Interview with Reading 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!®

January Sale - 25% off!

Become an Affiliate of the
KIDS FIRST!® Web Store

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.

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

Dear Friends,

Last fall I attended a media literacy conference from Project Look Sharp! and had the pleasure of meeting Faith Rogow, a media consultant who works for clients such as PBS and Sesame Workshop. The room was filled with teachers and librarians who were learning how to incorporate media literacy into their classroom. In addition to getting some great tips for our homeschool, I came away with some wonderful insights from Rogow. Some of her key points are in the article below. She has inspired some changes in the viewing habits of my family.

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 at Chris

Christine Pollock, Editor
Contact Me

Dear Readers,

Yesterday we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s impact on our society which helped us overcome degrees of racism that had existed for centuries. I clearly remember the civil rights movement from my youth, yet young people today can hardly believe that racism was so prevalent in our country not so long ago. I'm not saying it's completely gone, but when you compare the society we live in today with society pre-1960s, we've come a long way. One of the new titles from Weston Woods/Scholastic is MARTIN’S BIG WORDS AND MORE STORIES FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN TRADITION. I highly recommend adding this to the permanent collection in your school or personal library.

Today, Ann and I screened a collection of films made by youth worldwide who participate in Listen Up! Youth Media Network. This collection of short films made by youth from Columbia, West Africa, Afghanistan, Argentina, Guatemala, Jordan, Ukraine, England, USA, and Korea are real eye openers to the issues of human rights that are being fought around the world today. These are among the youth-produced titles that will be screening in our February festivals. I hope to hear from many of our festival attendees about your reactions to this outstanding work. They are truly eye-openers.

On the lighter side, I want to remind you that we are once again looking for new Jurors who can review and evaluate titles for infants and toddlers. We will waive our usual $40 training fee for anyone in this age category. So, all you new moms and dads, this is a great way for you to jump onboard with KIDS FIRST!, help us review media for your baby, and collect some great DVDs for yourself. To register, go here.

Much love,

Ranny Levy
Founder and President, KIDS FIRST!®


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 $25 fee for the training. 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 click here.



Martin's Big Words and More Stories from the African American Tradition. A. Using quotes from some of his beloved speeches, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to rich life in this profound and important biography about beliefs and dreams and following one's heart. MARTIN'S BIG WORDS is narrated by Michael Clarke Duncan and based on a book by Doreen Rapaport which won a Caldecott Honor award and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book award. Other stories include "John Henry," based on the book illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; and "Seven Candles for Kwanzaa," based on the book by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Bonus stories feature Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Ages 3-7. Weston Woods/Scholastic Price: SPECIAL SALE $11.21 (MSRP $14.95)


Pegasus follows the mythological horse from birth to his battle with the multi-headed Chimaera. He is appointed by Zeus as thunder-bearer and is transformed into the constellation. Narrated by Mia Farrow. Adapted by Doris Orgel. Beauty and the Beast is based on the classic tale. To save her beloved father, a beautiful young girl agrees to become the companion of a brutish and unhappy beast. As time passes, love works a miraculous change in their lives. Narrated by Mia Farrow. Price: SPECIAL SALE $11.21 (MSRP $14.95)



A whole new generation can experience the magical stories that teach values like courage, friendship, positive attitude and determination. Featuring five original episodes from the hit children's television series. Price: SPECIAL SALE $11.23 (MSRP $14.98)

Soothing new education video for babies. Jack is a puppy who lives in Central Park, New York City. He explores colors, shapes, animals, flowers, mountains, trees and more. Classical music pieces are performed by an award-winning concert pianist, Cheryl Tschanz Newkirk. Price: SPECIAL SALE $11.99 (MSRP $15.99)

NEW ENDORSEMENTS ********************************

More New Endorsements can be found at

*** = Titles receiving the highest scores are given a three star rating.
** = Titles that meet or exceed the criteria receive a two-star rating.
* = Titles that meet the baseline criteria but require some extra consideration on the part of the viewer a one-star rating.

Video/DVD-Ages 0-2

** FUN WITH DANCE. Take a journey through the wonderful world of dance. This DVD introduces toddlers to movement and dance by showing the movements of puppets, animals, dancers and other children. Designed so children can watch, learn and have fun. Adult Juror Comments: Engaging, interactive and delightful. Designed to inspire kids to get involved in movement exploration. Good way to view and do with your child. Inserts of real animals wobbling, hopping and moving about are shown side by side with kids imitating their movements. Diverse dance forms are shown, from African to Japanese and more - jazz to ballet. Supports kids exploration of gross motor skills along with their imagination. DVD. 30 min.; $14.99; Age: 1-4. KIDDIE VILLAGE.

Video/DVD-Ages 2-5

*** THE WHEELS ON THE BUS VIDEO: MANGO HELPS THE MOON MOUSE. Through the use of live-action, animation, puppetry and animatronics, characters undertake a musical adventure to a reptile show, a bird show, a grocery store and even the moon. Along the way, they learn some early socialization skills. Adult Juror Comments: Perfect for preschoolers! Songs are lively and familiar. The items used to rescue the mouse will be familiar to most children. Bright colors and well-constructed puppets are a plus. Music is very professional. Human interaction with puppets are appropriate and fun. Altogether, it's very enjoyable and highly recommended. Kid Juror Comments: Loved this. It's funny. They like the songs and how they blast off to the moon."The mouse going to the moon was great." Characters are helpful to one another. "They help the mouse get cheese. I don't know how they had enough money for all that cheese, but they helped him." End result was that some kids want to become astronauts. DVD. 38 min.; $12.99; Age: 2-5. ARMSTRONG MOVING PICTURES.
Available for purchase at

Video/DVD-Ages 5-8

** ADVENTUREPATROL: TOTALLY ROCKS. A wild, weekend-long adventure in the red rock mountains of Utah. Zeke, the host, invites kids to accompany him as he learns how to mountain bike, rock climb, and watch pros at these extreme sports while exploring Native American art and dance. Adult Juror Comments: Offers information about rock climbing and camping, Native Americans, hygiene, and respect for nature. Scenery is incredible, and the music rocks. The traditional Native American dress is stunning. There is something for everyone, from outdoor stills to rock art. The mountain biking parts are awesome. The only down side are scenes of playing hide and seek in holes and crevices which are potentially dangerous. It does stress safety and using proper equipment at all times. Kid Juror Comments: Loved it. "I like the bikes and seeing what you can do with rocks." "It's funny. You can learn a lot about biking and rocks." "It's about rocks and Native Americans and hide and seek in the wilderness." They loved the Native American drummers and dancers and the historical information. "It has a lot of stuff I've never really seen close up before." DVD. 35 min.; $14.98; Age: 5-12. BIG BRIGHT WORLD, INC. Available for purchase at

Video/DVD-Ages 8-12

** MAGICFRANK'S LESSONS IN MAGIC: BIM BIY MAGIC YOU CAN DO! Believe in magic. Believe in yourself. Magic you can do. 21 tricks with coins, cards and even some snacks. You will find the secret of how to believe in yourself along with ways to vanish, change and even shatter coins. Adult Juror Comments: If you are interested in learning magic tricks, you'll thoroughly enjoy this. Each trick is broken down so that the viewer can see exactly how to replicate it. Frank gives hints and tips to make it easier. There are a variety of tricks, sing coins, cards, and other props but nothing too difficult to come up with. Magic Frank speaks to the viewer as if they are intelligent and capable. The production format is pretty simple and straightforward. Kid Juror Comments: Kids who were interested in learning magic were mesmerized, others weren't. One little girl didn't like it at all because, "I thought magic was real and I got disappointed." Another little boy really got into it and couldn't wait to go home and watch it again so he could learn the tricks. The best part - the shattered money trick! They liked that Magic Frank's assistant was a school-aged girl. DVD. 54 min.; $19.95; Age: 7-12. MAGICFRANK.

Video/DVD-Ages 12+

*** FRIENDSHIP'S FIELD. Encouraged by loving parents, a young girl builds a lasting friendship with the son of Mexican migrant farm workers. Set in 1965, and based on a true story about how friendship has the power to triumph over prejudice and tragedy. Adult Juror Comments: Thought provoking, multifaceted story that addresses life lessons about different cultures, Irish and Mexican, as well as treating family members with respect. Social and personal values are challenged including standing up for one's own beliefs. A rewarding viewing experience for adults and children to share and discuss. Excellent presentation, perhaps a bit slow at times. Well-written and presented. Addresses issues and concerns in an accurate and realistic way. Presents real-life situation among family members who hire migrant workers and the interaction between the two families as well as the town's young people. Gives kids background information about racial prejudice. Peace is emphasized and demonstrations of "turning the other cheek" occur throughout. Very well produced. DVD. 84 min.; $12.95; Age: 8-15. FEATURE FILMS FOR FAMILIES.


Adventurepatrol: Snow Daze. L. 35 min. L.
From extreme snowboarding and skiing to igloo and quinzie construction, takes kids into the Absorka Mountains of Wyoming on a big-powder adventure. Host, Zeke teaches kids that learning is big fun. Age: 5-12. Big Bright World, Inc.

Backyardigans: Polka Palace Party. A. 100 min.
Tyrone is a cowboy Polka musician. Tuba in tow, he's on his way to the Cheyenne Polka Palace, to play at Herman the Worman's surprise birthday party. Along the way, he meets more musical cow-pokes - Uniqua, Pablo, and Austin - and helps them out of some jams while simultaneously forming a band. Will they get to Cheyenne in time to rock the house, polka-style? Age: 2-5. Paramount Home Entertainment/Nickelodeon



Clifford the Big Red Dog: New Baby on the Block. E.
When a new baby joins the household, Clifford is called to use his big red heart to help out with family responsibility like baby-sitting and entertaining. Even with the extra chores, Clifford finds that bigger is definitely better! Age: 4-8 Lions Gate Family Home Entertainment



Come Away Home. L. 103 min.
Twelve-year-old Annie's first day of summer turns into a disaster when she learns her parents have decided to fly her to Hilton Head Island and coerce her to spend half her summer with her 76-year-old Grandpa whom she hardly knows. She is miserable and plans her escape which turns out to be the turning point of her life. Age: 10-13. Come Away Home LLC.



Dancing from the Heart. L. 47 min.
Andrew Garcia of San Juan Pueblo contrasts his early struggles with alcohol, from which he almost died, with his subsequent life as cultural and addiction counselor, family head, and teacher of his pueblo's traditions, especially as embodied in its life-affirming dances. Age: 12-18. Mother Earth Productions.



Frontiers of Dreams & Fears. l. 56 min.
Award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri's documentary traces the delicate friendship that evolves between two Palestinian girls: Mona, a resident of the economically marginalized Beirut refugee camp and Manar, an occupant of Bethlehem's Al-Dheisha camp under Israeli control. The two girls begin their relationship through letters until they finally get to meet. When the intifada erupts around them, both face heart-breaking changes in their lives. Age: 12-18. Arab Film Distribution

Miss Spider: Captain Sunny Patch. 93 min. E.
Put on your Hummingbird wings and fly with Captain Sunny Patch to save the Day. In these eight episodes, you’ll join Miss Spider and her gang of Sunny Patch kids on bugged-out adventure that will have you wanting to express your inner insect.. Bugging-out was never this much fun! Ages 4-8 Lions Gate Family Home Entertainment



Thomas & Friends: Percy Saves the Day. A. 35 min.
On the Island of Sodor, Sir Topham Hatt is always stressing to the engines the importance of working together and listening to one another. Sometimes, the engines don't always do as their told. Rusty risks his safety to save Duncan. Fergus pushes the twins out of the way after they disobey his warning to go carefully and, in rescuing them, becomes buried in a landslide. The twins apologize and Fergus forgives them. Age: 2-5. Anchor Bay Entertainment

Our complete list of titles is available by clicking here.


Please welcome these new or renewing members and visit their web sites.

Animal Wow Entertainment, Inc.


Future Filmmakers Festival
This celebration of young film and video artists, where participants share their work, attend workshops, and meet film professionals and other young filmmakers, is calling for submissions from filmmakers ages twenty or younger. The event runs June 16-18; the deadline for submissions is January 31. Read more


Don't Let Technology Take Your Kids From You
The POWER COP is a user-friendly timing device that teaches kids to manage their time more efficiently and also helps promote more family time, more reading and study time and also more time for physical exercise.
Read More

Study Shows Ads Boost Drinking Among Young
A survey of young people aged 15 to 26 found that for each additional alcohol advertisement viewed per month, there followed a 1 percent rise in the average number of drinks consumed, said study author Leslie Snyder of the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Read More

Using Media Effectively by Christine L. Pollock

"I find it ironic that teachers object to videos of Shakespeare plays shown during class. Do you know why I find it ironic?" Faith Rogow, founding president of the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA ) and a twenty-year veteran of media literacy education, asked a group of educators at the Project Look Sharp! Literacy in a Media Age conference. I was one of the attendees and personally, I was stumped. Maybe teachers felt that videos were for after-school entertainment, I thought. Maybe they were upset that if they watched videos, students wouldn't be analyzing text. The answer made me laugh at its obviousness. Shakespeare wrote PLAYS, they were never meant to be read. They were meant to be watched on a stage.

Perhaps we are so busy looking for minute details in our scrutinization of visual media, that we are missing the big picture. Is it really going to dumb-down society? As Rogow pointed out, that was a criticism of printed media centuries ago when the printing press made books accessible to most households. Our ancestors worried that books in lieu of memorization and oral tradition would lead to brain-rot. Media are useful tools when used properly, tools that will enhance the brain, not destroy. Media should be respected and used deliberately, but not feared.

Any child walking down a hallway at school with a laptop in his or her backpack and an iPod in his or her pocket as he/she yaks on a cellphone, will tell you that it's too late to worry about whether or not to use media. The real question is how to use it effectively. Rogow believes that parents and educators should closely monitor their children and the shows they view.

* Make the experience interactive - Expose children to shows they can play along with and learn from.

* Watch together and discuss.

* Know the developmental level of your child. Have the children identify main characters and storytellers. As they become older and more discerning, use media as springboard for discussion.

* Turn off the sound. See what message each show portrays through visual cues. Is it the same message promoted by the words and music?

* Ignore the images. Step back and listen to the sound without viewing the images. Is it what you want your child to hear?

Rogow also suggests that parents and educators visit the web sites for the programs they are viewing. A strong promoter for PBS, Rogow recommends for extra activities and lesson plan ideas relating to programs your children view.

The popularity of a show should not be the sole basis of its success, according to Rogow. Whether it is a professional study or positive actions you witness in your home or classroom, see if the programs stimulate learning and other healthy habits in your child. The job doesn't end when you get kids to watch quality programming. Rather, it is the measurable outcomes that show the positive or negative impact on children. Studies show that many programs have a positive impact on children's learning (Mixed Messages in Modern Media).

At KIDS FIRST!® we regularly get comments from parents who rave about the titles we offer saying that their children are now enthusiastic about subjects that were formerly difficult for them. Whether it's learning math from Cyberchase or letters from Leap Frog or craft ideas from Brainy Baby, our KIDS FIRST! families are seeing the positive impact Rogow is talking about. These are examples of what quality children's media is all about.


Dr. Toy's Tips on Use of Video by Stevanne Auerbach, PhD./Dr.Toy Smart Play /Smart Toys (

It's important to have balance in play. Not too much of anything. Try to find a good balance between active play, educational products to help them learn, and creativity to help them use their imagination. They will benefit if they try new things and learn many skills. A good variety of products that provide a blend and balance are really optimal for children. Some terrific KIDS FIRST!® titles which provide this balance are in the set Get Up and Do It for Preschoolers.



Paper Dolls Dance Hip to Toe based on Nursery Tap Hip to Toe

Materials: construction paper, scissors, magnet strips (a roll can be found in the craft/sewing section of Wal-Mart), crayons or markers, a brass paper fastener

For instructions, go to craft page.

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

Yuma, AZ

Los Angeles, CA

Newport Beach, CA
San Jose, CA

Tiburon, CA

Denver, CO

Rockford, IL

Fort Wayne, IN

Brookline MA
Williamstown, MA

Ironwood, MI

Minneapolis, MN

Alamogordo, NM
Albuquerque, NM

Santa Fe, NM

Las Vegas, NV

Garden City, NY

Queens, NY

Oklahoma City, OK

Tulsa, OK

Ashland, OR

Nashville, TN

Austin, TX
Dallas, TX

Houston, TX

Spring, TX

Salt Lake City
, UT

Shelburne, VT

Seattle, WA

Milwaukee, WI

Washington, DC

Other Events:

Deadline: January 20, 2006: ITVS: International Programs for U.S. Audience
Independent Television Service (ITVS) invites international producers to create programs for television audiences in the United States that represent diverse global communities, advance underrepresented points of view, inspire public dialogue, tell powerful stories, and explore globally significant themes and issues. Visit for complete program guidelines and application procedures.

February 11, 2006: NYC Grassroots Media Conference
A weekend of workshops, skills-sharing, dialogue, debate and strategizing sessions about media making, media policy and how to use media to forward social justice campaigns.

March 20-21 Just Think: Professional Development Workshop, Images of Youth 2006-New Directions in Media Literacy and Teen Health, University of Washington.

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

Special Offers:
For Homeschoolers
The Old Schoolhouse is the must have magazine for homeschoolers and right now they are offering a deal that is hard to pass up. With your 2- year subscription you will get approximately $300 in FREE homeschool materials - 19 complete gifts - and FREE shipping. Click here or call TOS at 1-888-718-HOME. The Old Schoolhouse is the magazine for homeschoolers. Please call today as gift inventory is limited to the first 5000 new subscribers.

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

To SUBSCRIBE to our free e-zine, KIDS FIRST!® NEWS: Send e-mail to join-[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) or send an email to Jury Coordinator

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

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