Super Why premiered in September 2007 on PBS Kids in the PBS Kids Block (it’s the must see tv block of PBS for kids). Super Why was actually my Masters Thesis from Teachers College, Columbia University. I wrote my thesis on my approach to creating a television show that would bridge the gap between reading and television. The statistics alarmed me – I knew that reading was correlated to later academic success but when I realized that kids who watch television are reading less – I wanted to figure out a way to use the influential nature of television and get kids to feel like reading was power and to show the adventures inside books!
What is it about? Super Why is an interactive reading adventure series for kids, aged 3-6. Each character has a reading super power that helps to save the day.
- Alpha Pig (who, in his alter ego is the the littlest pig from the Three Little Pigs) has alphabet power! He has his own version of the alphabet song and asks kids at home to point to letters of the alphabet to help save the day.
- Wonder Red (who is Little Red Riding Hood) has word power! Through rhyming and word families, Wonder Red raps/rhymes and builds words (she can turn a wall into a ball for example!)
- Princess Presto (who is the daughter of the original Princess from Princess and the Pea) has Spelling Power! She helps kids at home practice letter sounds to spell out words to make things appear. (she spells “dress” for Cinderella to help her have a dress to go to the ball!)
- Super Why (he is the only without a storybook identity – his older brother is Jack from Jack in the Beanstalk and is the heart-throb of Storybrook Village where they live) has Reading Power! Super Why is the one who puts it all together and can read. He uses his vocabulary skills to change the story and save the day. The Big Bad Wolf is being so big and bad. Why? Because it says so in his story. Super Why changes the sentence so it reads, “The small good wolf”. The wolf, now “good” bursts into tears and is sorry for blowing down the pigs houses in the Three Little Pigs Story.
Stats: We have produced 65 episodes and we are currently producing 15 more episodes, lots of books, an amazing SUPER WHY Website , SUPER WHY Reading App and the Super Why Paint App are consistently in the top of all kids educational apps (sooo proud!) and SUPER WHY Products.
SUPER WHY TEACHES KIDS TO READ!: Research from Dr. Deb Linebarger from University of Pennsylvania at Annenburg proved that kids who watched Super Why scored better on standardized literacy tests than kids who did not watch Super Why. And, really, this is why I do what I do.