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Closing the Literacy Gap--PBS Show Makes Reading Cool

Jan. 25, 2010

The name the Electric Company might sound familiar. The original version aired on PBS in 1971. 38 years later in 2009, PBS revived the brand, but this time with a mission to make reading cool. Today we talk with two characters from the show. Priscilla Diaz plays a 13-year-old with a power to recall any word. Chris Sullivan plays Shock who provides the beat as the team of characters carries out their missions.

The new version's goals include: decoding, connected text comprehension, vocab and motivation. These are integrated into specific kid friendly themes like the body, animals, games and space. With the combination of engaging story lines, beat-boxing, dancing, music interwoven with word use and vocabulary, reading just seems natural.

The Electric Company is number one nationally in the PBS Kid's block of children's programming. And its popularity doesn't stop there, the website was the recipient of the Best in Class Interactive Media Award in the Kids Category, and in the month of December, it had over 20 million hits.

Karen Fowler, the show's Executive Producer said quote "this generation's electric company is naturally conceived to let children experience it on any multimedia platform while providing support for parents and teachers online and in outreach materials." Chris just completed a nation-wide tour as part of an outreach initiative. His performance combined simple word sounds with beat-boxing techniques.

Although the show is geared toward ages 6 - 9, the creative story-lines and content appeal to all ages.

The Electric Company airs on KWBU TV weekday afternoons at 4, and the second season premiers today. In the coming weeks, Kids can look forward to special celebrity guests on the show: Sherri Shepherd, LL Cool J, John Leguizamo, Monique Coleman, Kyle Massey, Dwight Howard, and Samantha Bee. For KWBU, I'm Jacqueline Deavenport.

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