Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for January, 2010

Great Films for Black History Month

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

A terrific collection of films for Black History Month comes from Scholastic, “March On! … and more stories about African American History.” It includes four stories on one DVD celebrating Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and other people who have helped shaped African American history. The title tale (March On: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World), based on the book by Dr. Christine King Ferris, sister of Martin Luther King, is a wonderful story about partnership and equality. The collection of actual photographs and illustrations makes for an interesting way to view the story. Younger kids may get bored with all the still photographs but, they illustrate important events in the history of our country. The March in Washington D.C. was based on love and peace. That is what is made clear in this film. It definitely gives viewers things to think about. The background of Martin Luther King Jr. from his sister’s point of view is interesting. I would recommend this DVD for kids age eight and older. This is a show that makes everyone think about how we treat others. It shows how people in the 60s worked towards equality and peace. The basis of Martin Luther King Jr’s speech is still true today. We cannot move forward unless we consider everyone equal. We must have hope and move ahead with our own dreams. We must work together and speak up for what is right.

Also coming out in February from Scholastic is the DVD, “So You Want To Be President? … and more stories to celebrate American history.” This DVD collects four storises about American political history. The title tale is based on the Caldecott Medal award winning book by Judith St. George, and features narration by Stockard Channing. Another tale is My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C., written and narrated by Senator Edward M. Kennedy. DVD extras include an inervewi with author Lane Smith

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Jay,Jay The Jet Plane comes to DVD on January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25th, 2010
PorchLight Home Entertainment will be relesing six new Jay Jay the Jet Plane titles through E1 Entertainment in January. Each DVD is newly mastered and contains five twelve-minute story segments.

The hit preschool series has been seen on over 100 broadcasters around the world. These DVD releases represent the latest in a long line of successful licenses that include product from toys to apparel to publishing.

Jay Jay The Jet Plane will be released in Dual Language with three of the new releases including both English and Spanish language versions. Additionally, three DVDs will contain special never-before broadcast episodes for the faith-based consumer.
“We are very pleased to announce the release of these new episodic collections of Jay Jay The Jet Plane. This is a very well-respected brand in the educational market place and now is a great time to make these programs available again to consumers,” said Herb Dorfman, General Manager of PorchLight Home Entertainment.

Titles include:







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Daily Media Use Amount Children and Teens Up Dramatically From 5 Years Ago

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth, according to a study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.

The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today. And because of media multitasking, the total amount of media content consumed during that period has increased from 8:33 in 2004 to 10:45 today.

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Foundation about young people’s media use. It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

Mobile media driving increased consumption. The increase in media use is driven in large part by ready access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods. Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership among 8- to 18-year-olds: from 39% to 66% for cell phones, and from 18% to 76% for iPods and other MP3 players. During this period, cell phones and iPods have become true multi-media devices: in fact, young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 daily) than they spend talking on them (:33).

Parents and media rules. Only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%) or playing video games (30%), and 36% say the same about using the computer. But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.

Media in the home. About two-thirds (64%) of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, and just under half (45%) say the TV is left on “most of the time” in their home, even if no one is watching. Seven in ten (71%) have a TV in their bedroom, and half (50%) have a console video game player in their room. Again, children in these TV-centric homes spend far more time watching: 1:30 more a day in homes where the TV is left on most of the time, and an hour more among those with a TV in their room.

“The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time work week,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it’s affecting them – for good and bad.”

Heavy media users report getting lower grades. While the study cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between media use and grades, there are differences between heavy and light media users in this regard. About half (47%) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23%) of light users. These differences may or may not be influenced by their media use patterns. (Heavy users are the 21% of young people who consume more than 16 hours of media a day, and light users are the 17% of young people who consume less than 3 hours of media a day.)

Black and Hispanic children spend far more time with media than White children do. There are substantial differences in children’s media use between members of various ethnic and racial groups. Black and Hispanic children consume nearly 4½ hours more media daily (13:00 of total media exposure for Hispanics, 12:59 for Blacks, and 8:36 for Whites). Some of the largest differences are in TV viewing: Black children spend nearly 6 hours and Hispanics just under 5½ hours, compared to roughly 3½ hours a day for White youth. The only medium where there is no significant difference between these three groups is print. Differences by race/ethnicity remain even after controlling for other factors such as age, parents’ education, and single vs. two-parent homes. The racial disparity in media use has grown substantially over the past five years: for example, the gap between White and Black youth was just over two hours (2:12) in 2004, and has grown to more than four hours today (4:23).

Big changes in TV. For the first time over the course of the study, the amount of time spent watching regularly-scheduled TV declined, by 25 minutes a day (from 2004 to 2009). But the many new ways to watch TV–on the Internet, cell phones, and iPods–actually led to an increase in total TV consumption from 3:51 to 4:29 per day, including :24 of online viewing, :16 on iPods and other MP3 players, and :15 on cell phones. All told, 59% (2:39) of young people’s TV-viewing consists of live TV on a TV set, and 41% (1:50) is time-shifted, DVDs, online, or mobile.

“The bottom line is that all these advances in media technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more time with media,” said Victoria Rideout, Foundation Vice President and director of the study. “It’s more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it’s having on their lives.”

Popular new activities like social networking also contribute to increased media use. Top online activities include social networking (:22 a day), playing games (:17), and visiting video sites such as YouTube (:15). Three-quarters (74%) of all 7th-12th graders say they have a profile on a social networking site.

Types of media kids consume. Time spent with every medium other than movies and print increased over the past five years: :47 a day increase for music/audio, :38 for TV content, :27 for computers, and :24 for video games. TV remains the dominant type of media content consumed, at 4:29 a day, followed by music/audio at 2:31, computers at 1:29, video games at 1:13, print at :38, and movies at :25 a day.

High levels of media multitasking. High levels of media multitasking also contribute to the large amount of media young people consume each day. About 4 in 10 7th-12th graders say they use another medium “most” of the time they’re listening to music (43%), using a computer (40%), or watching TV (39%).

Additional findings:

* Reading. Over the past 5 years, time spent reading books remained steady at about :25 a day, but time with magazines and newspapers dropped (from :14 to :09 for magazines, and from :06 to :03 for newspapers). The proportion of young people who read a newspaper in a typical day dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009. On the other hand, young people now spend an average of :02 a day reading magazines or newspapers online.

* Media and homework. About half of young people say they use media either “most” (31%) or “some” (25%) of the time they’re doing their homework.

* Rules about media content. Fewer than half of all 8- to 18-year-olds say they have rules about what TV shows they can watch (46%), video games they can play (30%), or music they’re allowed to listen to (26%). Half (52%) say they have rules about what they can do on the computer.

* Gender gap. Girls spend more time than boys using social networking sites (:25 vs. :19), listening to music (2:33 vs. 2:06), and reading (:43 vs. :33). Boys spend more time than girls playing console video games (:56 vs.: 14), computer games (:25 vs. :08), and going to video websites like YouTube (:17 vs. :12).

* Tweens and media. Media use increases substantially when children hit the 11-14 year-old age group, an increase of 1:22 with TV content, 1:14 with music, 1:00 using the computer, and :24 playing video games, for total media exposure of 11:53 per day (vs. 7:51 for 8-10 year-olds).

* Texting. 7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day sending or receiving texts. (Time spent texting is not counted as media use in this study.)

The report, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, was released today at a forum in Washington, D.C. that featured the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, media executives and child development experts. The report, related materials, and a live webcast are available online at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm

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How to Make a Great Preschool Series – Little Airplane Academy

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Little Airplane Academy will be offering an intensive three-day workshop in February 2010. Participants will learn the fundamentals of creating a preschool series from pitching through writing, character design, directing and producing both live action and animated shows.

During the three day course, participants will get an overview of every step in the process of making a preschool series, from pitching through writing, curriculum development, directing, music, legal and production. The course covers both live-action and animation and features a team of accomplished preschool TV veterans and network executives.

How To Make A Great Preschool Series (New York)

When: Three-Day Intensive February 13 through February 15
Where: 207 Front Street, New York, NY 10038
How much: $1500 (there is no fee to apply)

For questions, please call 212-965-8999 or email: [email protected]

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American Library Association Announces Awards for Books, Audiobooks and Videos

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
At its Midwinter Meeting in Boston yesterday The American Library Association (http://www.ala.org/) unveiled its top picks for books, audiobooks and video for kids and young adults, including medal and honor winners for the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz awards, among others. Medal winners and honorees are selected by judging committees of librarians and other kid’s literature experts.
* John Newbery Medal – outstanding children’s literature: When You Reach Me; author Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

* Randolph Caldecott Medal – distinguished American picture books for kids: The Lion & the Mouse; illustrator/author Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers)

* Michael L. Printz Award – excellence in young adult literature: Going Bovine; author Libba Bray (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House)

* Coretta Scott King Award – recognizes an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults: Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal; author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrator R. Gregory Christie (Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.)

* Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award: The Rock and the River; author Kekla Magoon (Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)

* Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award: My People; illustrator Charles R. Smith Jr., author Langston Hughes (Ginee Seo Books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

* Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Walter Dean Myers – author

* The Pura Belpre Award honors Latino author and illustrators celebrating Latino culture: illustrator award – Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros; Illustrator Rafael Lopez, author Pat Mora (Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers); Author award – Return to Sender; author Julia Alvarez (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

* Schneider Family Book Award – books with artistic expression of the disability experience in three age groups: Kids 0-10 years old: Django; author/illustrator Bonnie Christensen (Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press); Tweens 11-13: Anything but Typical; author Nora Raleigh Baskin (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers); Teens 13-18: Marcelo in the Real World; Author Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic)

* William C. Morris Award – book written by a first-time author for young adults: Flash Burnout; author L.K. Madigan (Houghton Mifflin, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

* Odyssey Award – excellence in audiobook production: Live Oak Media – producer of the audiobook Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken; author Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Barbara Rosenblat

* Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Award – distinguished beginning reader book: Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!; author/illustrator Geoffrey Hayes (Toon Books, a division of RAW Junior)

* Margaret A. Edwards Award – lifetime achievement in writing for young adults: Jim Murphy – author

* Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award – distinguished informational book for children: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream; author Tanya Lee Stone (Candlewick Press)

* Andrew Carnegie Medal – excellence in children’s video: Paul R. Gagne and Mo Willems of Weston Woods, producers of Don’t Let the Pigeon’s Drive the Bus!; based on author/illustrator Willems’ book of the same name; narrated by Willems and Jon Scieszka with animation by Pete List.

For a complete list, go here: http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2010/january2010/ymawrap2010.cfm

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Tooth Fairy – One of the Best Family Movies of the Year

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Hockey player Derek “The Tooth Fairy” Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) is a big, tough guy whose pro career fizzled but who continues to please crowds by being the heavy for his minor team. While he’s got an attractive girlfriend (Ashley Judd) with two kids, he has a very bad attitude and tends to rain on everyone’s parade, particularly those of children with big dreams. To teach him the error of his ways, he is summoned to Fairy Land (presided over by Queen Fairy Julie Andrews and helped by wizened Billy Crystal) where he sprouts wings and learns he must perform the job of Tooth Fairy for 2 weeks. Crazy antics ensue, with the man suddenly sprouting wings at inopportune times and having a nightmarish time trying to fulfill his sentence. In the meantime, he begins to bond with the girlfriend’s son, who is himself suffering a crisis of confidence. Eventually, both man and boy learn to believe in the power of dreams, build confidence through hard work and determination and open their hearts to love of self and others.

This is good, solid mainstream Hollywood family fare. Big name actors (Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal, Ashley Judd) appeal to parents, fantasy antics appeal to kids and the happy ending means everyone walks away satisfied. Kids will laugh at the physical humor. The audience age for this is probably 6-12, with 12 stretching it a bit. Filled with silly physical humor, hockey action and a well acted portrayal of a guitar-playing pre-teen boy who learns to believe in himself.

The humor certainly works for intended audience. While there is a bit of relatively violent action in the hockey rink, it’s no more brutal than a televised NFL football game. The heart of the film is about a man who has lost his confidence and therefore assumes everyone is doomed to fail like he has. His negative attitude and progress toward change are easily comprehendible for a youth audience. It’s a message both kids and adults can relate to and does offer some good talking points to open up a discussion with your child.


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