Cartoons and the commercialization of childhood

Saturday morning cartoons was a rite of passage for many of us growing up in the USA in the 1980s. Smurfs, Transformers and even the WWF cartoon was on the docket each weekend. Yes, each of them were platforms for selling us cereal and toys, but it still stinks.

Last weekend PBS held "play dates" in Toys-R-Us stores in conjunction with its show "Super Why!" I love "Super Why!" because it has a black princess and Little Red Riding Hood is a rollerskating gal. It also gives new spins to classic fairy tales. It's one of the few shows that I don't cringe about when my almost-6-year-old asks for cartoon time.

But why hold a national play date in a toy store? Are they more accessible than a local library? Not even close! I'm not opposed to sponsored events since I know that sometimes it is the only way an event can happen. But surely Toys-R-Us could have sponsored events in libraries. What better way to promote literacy but to hold an event and let the kids sign up for their own library cards? Especially since "Super Why!" is holding a summer read-a-thon for kids.

I hope that the next sponsorship event for PBS Kids has something to do with Word Girl and maybe a dictionary for every kid.

by Veronica Arreola
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Professional feminist, former Bitch Media board member, mom, and writer. Creator of #365FeministSelfie.

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7 Comments Have Been Posted

I miss Reading Rainbow. They

I miss Reading Rainbow. They should bring back that show for kids. There was no commercialization - there were no Reading Rainbow action figures. It was just a pure, fun, happy show that shared the joy of reading with kids. I ate up every second of it when I was little. I hope today's children get to enjoy a similar show that shares the joy of reading with them without a hidden price tag attached.

Reading Rainbow still on PBS

At least in my area, Reading Rainbow is available and my 6 yr-old loves it. May not be as frequent as our childhood - it is out there. Between the Lions is another good one on PBS that focuses a lot on reading and good stories

The politics of funding.

I worked on a project funded by the National Science Foundation a few years ago, and learned while at a conference that Reading Rainbow hadn't been making new shows because their NSF grant ended. Basically, it's tough to find a big funder who wants to pick up a project so widely associated with another funder. I think they may have to avoid a certain level of corporate sponsorship to remain on PBS. I'm less sure about this, but remember when Bob Villa got fired from This Old House after becoming the spokesperson for Sears?

I loved Reading Rainbow, too. I caught an old episode about families the other day, which featured a segment with LeVar Burton's daughter and a kid review of a book about interracial adoption. I welled up a little.

Unfortunately, in some

Unfortunately, in some cities Toys R Us <b>is</b> more accesible. It's sad, but many libraries have become defunded, decertified or closed since they have become less of a priority when it comes to town/city budgets. I live in a reasonably large city in Massachusetts and our city library is now open only 3 days a week, and none of those are weekend days. So, it <i>would</i>, unfortunately, be easier for people to get to the local Toys R Us which is actually open every day.

It's incredibly disheartening that so many libraries are closing or becoming decertified and defunded. It's such a problem in Massachusetts that many of the libraries in other towns and cities are refusing reciprocal borrowing privledges to the decertified libraries. This is problematic for those of us who use the library.

very true

Thanks for reminding me and all of us of the defunding of libraries. Our libraries aren't always open on Sundays, which to me is insane. Close 'em on Monday then! Ugh. But I know around the Chicago area Toys-r-Us stores closed a lot of outlets, so libraries are keeping pace here.

heck...even a bookstore would had been better. Of course, an indie bookstore would be ideal. But those are even rarer these days.

Veronica I. Arreola

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You're very welcome. My city

You're very welcome. My city library is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It's rather terrible. I do agree with you, a bookstore would have been better, by far. Interestingly enough, my city has an independant bookstore and no large corporation store like Borders or Barnes and Noble (although B&N is located in the next town over).

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