Dear PBS & the Creators of Super Why!

Thank you.

One hundred times, thank you.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, Super Why! on PBSkids is “geared towards children on the cusp of reading.” That means preschoolers. That means, my kids.

Despite my best efforts, I have a stereotypical boy who loves his numbers and counting and math and, until recently, abhorred the alphabet. He had no interest in letters, in reading, in writing, in even LISTENING to books.His preschool teachers keep telling me not to push and in the same breath tell me he’ll need to write his name come the first day of Kindergarten.

We’ve tried flash cards. Different kinds of books. All gently, all without really making him squirm. But I’ve been worried he would never pick up a love of reading, a want of words and sentences and paragraphs that make your mind wander.

Count Waffles will be 5 in March and while he can invent an entire city with semi-working plumbing in my front room, reading about one just doesn’t interest him. When I told him he could learn how to build it bigger, better, stronger from a book-he rolled his eyes, looked at me with that “don’t make me I get so frustrated” shrug and I let it go.

Then came WordGirl who peaked his interest slightly. WordGirl accidentally led us to Super Why!

And today…today my son spelled RED in my front room while asking me where he could find “that one car, you know mom, the red one –r-e-d, red.”

Holy crap. Did he just spell red? Wait. Does he even know what that looks like on paper? Can he…I mean could he…might he actually be able to READ the word?

I showed him a red crayon. I asked him to read the label. First he looked at me like I was insane. He looked at the crayon. He looked at me. I showed him the r. I showed him the e. I showed him the d. His eyes lit up.

Red, mom. That says RED.

I cried. He again looked at me like I was insane, but in that…Mom stop GUSHING way insane. He was damn proud of himself too.

Then he asked to watch Super Why! (horray Tivo) and asked to play the Super Why! games on the office computer. Could he get a computer like Whyatt? Could he get books like the Super Readers have? Isn’t his cape cool? I wish I could spin like that and make my clothes change. Did you know Mom you can have an adventure by reading? And on. And on. And on. And on.

It’s my understanding the creators of Super Why! are the brains behind Blues Clues. I just want to say publicly-

Angela C. Santomero and Samantha Freeman Alpert– this Mom thanks you.

Sincerely, (and I mean it)

Queen of Spain

p.s. not to be outdone, the 2.5 year old spelled SMART and pretended to read 3 books today. Show off. I have no idea where she gets it from.


  1. On the other hand, can you hear how effective these sort of shows are in terms of teaching our children to BUY stuff? That’s why we don’t watch anything on TV at all…. something to think about, perhaps?

  2. Queen of Spain says:

    I’ll take PBS over any other kid’s station any day. I just can’t knock shows like Super Why and Sesame Street. We might go buy an Elmo, we may go get us a Super Why! something or another-but overall the education value of the PBS shows really are 1)valid and 2)helping more than my child-as they target children who may not be attending preschool and are not getting the benefit of early education.

    There is a fantastic documentary about Sesame Street that discusses PBS and the Children’s Television Workshop. How things are researched, what is needed for those inner city kids (as you’ll note Sesame Street takes place on) what is needed to reach them and teach them to help prepare them for school. It’s wonderful. Public television will always have my support even if many other aspects of tv are nothing but sell, sell, sell.

    Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of Elmo in this house-but I’d much rather support shows like Super Why! and Sesame Street over any other children’s show I can think of any day of the week and twice on Sundays (or Saturday, for morning cartoons, as the case may be)

  3. Queen of Spain says:

    …and when my husband gets home he can remind me who made that documentary…I want to say TIME or the Biography Channel…or the History channel maybe? Either way…it’s fantastic.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on this one. Haven’t caught it yet, but have been hearing about it.
    This was a good endorsement.

    For Kira, it has been “Between the Lions” on PBS… She has known her letters forever, can spell her own name and write it – but just didn’t make that transition to sounding it out until she got hooked on “Between the Lions”.

    This age is so tricky. Kira turns 5 next week – and while she LOVES books and “reading with us” – mostly, she memorizes them in their entirety so that she doesn’t have to learn to read the words so much as just look at the page and tell you what she remembers it says! 😛

    The computer helps as well tho. 🙂

  5. Queen of Spain says:

    FYI hubs says the documentary on SS was BIOGRAPHY

  6. We love Super Why! You should also check out Word World. It’s also on PBS and they take letters to build a word.

  7. My kids discovered Super Why shortly before the Christmas Break. My 3 year old LOVES it and the six year old is into all things reading so he loves it even more, I think, than he loves Between the Lions. I haven’t heard my 4.5 year old (the girl) go on and on about it like her brothers, but she seems to enjoy it too.

    It really is a great show

  8. Wow, Dave Taylor – self-righteous much?

  9. We love Super Why too! We have a friend in church who made her son a Super Why doll and kid sized costume for Christmas.

    The repetitive nature of the show, showing the same episodes over and over has actually been a bit negative so Fuller doesn’t pay that much attention anymore. So we alternate Leapfrog videos and Super Why for phonics reinforcement.

  10. Thank YOU! I know you had IM’d me about it but I finally introduced Thomas to it this morning and he loves it. What a great website!

  11. My two boys (6.5 and 4) love Super Why, Word Girl, Word World (my personal favorite) and Between the Lions. I think shows like this – and Blue’s Clues and others before them – are part of the reason the two of them (especially the older one) love reading so much. They’re fun and well put together and, unlike some shows .. cough . . Deigo … cough …don’t make me want to unplug the TV forever and ever.

  12. My kids L.O.V.E. this show. At 9, 6, and 2 they will all sit down together and watch it. It’s helped them all in different ways. And they are soooooo much better than Dora and Diego and other “learning” shows that make me want to find the nearest snake pit and throw myself in.

  13. Bella (who’s a little older than Jack) will watch Super Why! but gets frustrated at how long it takes them to “figure things out.” Sheesh, once they learn to read they know EVERYTHING.

    Oh, and WHY was she reading so well, so early (this might be directed at Mr. Superior Parent in the top comment)? Because I bought her the Electric Company box set of DVDs. I’m not kidding. It was about 10 days of TEC before she went from a familiarity with the alphabet and letters to READING BOOKS. Public Television ROCKS. My daughter is reading everything she can get her hands on, writing in her own journal, and doesn’t have to have anything explained to her any more, preferring to “read the instructions.” Commonly heard, “Just let me read the instructions, Mommy.”

    She starts Kindergarten in September of 2008. GO, PBS!!

  14. At the last BlogHer conference, someone gave me a copy of the Word World DVD and the “Super Readers” sneak peak. Dawson has been in love with it ever since. But he hasn’t spelled anything yet. I’m sure he will in time. I have hope now that you’ve shared your experience.

  15. My son LOVES this show. He has been so much more interested in spelling lately. He keeps spelling his name and then saying “loves” and then spells mom out. He has been asking me how everything is spelled, which is both driving me nuts because it is so constant and also making me extremely happy because he is learning to spell.

  16. So I think superwhy is teaching my kid to read. He just attacks letters where ever he sees them now. On to fractions – so where is Super1/2?

  17. I love, love, love that show! Kids are such little sponges – might as well have them sponge up something like spelling.

  18. We love Super Why here too. Too bad when daddy set up the new cable in the new house he forgot to get dvr, so we cant record it any more.

  19. We love us some SuperWhy! and Word World in this house. LG loves to be “Princess Presto.” And the computer games….she could play them for as long as I will let her and she is just almost 3.

  20. Yes, but what happened to Word Girl? The best show ever, and on PBS. It was funny, and fun and soooo great. We’re so sad. It seems to have vanished…

  21. We LOVE SuperWhy here are well! Absolute genius! 🙂

  22. Just came here from Karen Sugarpants. Wow, thanks for the heads up on this show. Love love love PBS! Sesame Street had me reading at age four, no lie. I can’t always afford to, but I pledge as much financial support to our local PBS affiliate as I can, and I’d encourage all you other PBS lovers to keep doing the same so these kinds of shows will stick around!

  23. My two and a half year old twins love Super Why. I met one of the producers at the National Book Festival in DC last fall.I told her we loved the show and the catchy (almost too catchy) songs. I asked her if PBS would be launching a product line and she said they usually don’t until the show really catches on nation wide, usually about a year after launch. So maybe for next holiday season. On the same note, I noticed Word World toys at Target today, never saw them there before. Maybe a Princess Pea wonder wand and Red’s basket are right around the corner, better save up!

  24. My 2 year old LOVES Super Why! I want to get it on DVD, but they only have one copy being sold for $15 and it only has 2 episodes on it. Sooo, would you be interested in recording some episodes and selling them to me? Just kidding… we need to Tivo or DVR in a bad way.

  25. Hi all! We absolutely L O V E Super Why! My twin 5 1/2 yr old girls and 2 1/2 yr old son stop everything just to watch it. Between Super Why!, Word World, and Sesame Street my kids have become reading addicts. I was quite surprised when my little guy was able to recognize his ABC’s no matter what order they were in.
    Cudos to PBS and all of their wonderful work.
    Where IS Word Girl?? As for merchandising, I don’t buy toys ,AT ALL, but if Super Why! games and educational toys were available I would actually go get some. Birthday party supplies would be a great hit for a fun and educational party!

  26. My 2.5 year old started to watch SuperWhy few months ago. Soon after, she started to spell words with characters on TV. I figured she must have memorized the whole episode (all of them :)) by then. Well… sure enough one day, as I am helping her with shoes, she looks at my sweatshirt and spells letter by letter, word by word – not one mistake! My 2.5 year old tought herself how to spell through this PBS show. I am amazed and I feel guilty that I haven’t incouraged her gift for letters before, but… hey, I had no idea 2.5 year olds can spell (shame on me)… Princes Presto and the gang did it! I LOVE IT!!! IT WORKS!!

  27. We love Super Why! in this house, too! My 2-yr-old was interested in playing with letter toys but not actually learning the alphabet. Now she can sing the whole alphabet while drumming on her hand (building the letters like Alpha Pig). After we’re done singing, she says “Amazing alphabet singing, Mama.” So sweet! She loves the pace of the stories, and she participates in all the ways she can. It’s been a great way to help words and books come alive! I actually like the repetition because she really starts to learn what to look for. Keep it coming!!!!!

  28. ana catarina says:

    my daughter loves super why so much. i wonder if you have books or any super why material that we can buy maybe?

  29. Jaymi Hayes says:

    I have had 4 kids who have grown up on PBS programming and Super Why is the best show PBS has to offer ! My son is only 3, he is a huge Super Why fan and he now knows and recognizes all of the letters in the alphabet. Thank you to the creators of Super Why and thank you PBS for this incredible show !

  30. Sheila says:

    I have a nine month year old and I do not put her in front of the television; however, if she is playing in one of her toys I will turn on PBS. She loves it. The songs, the colors. She is in paradise. When SuperWhy comes on she is jumping and trying to sing the song. Hopefully it will continue to develop her skills!

    Thanks SuperWhy

  31. Hillary James says:

    My 21 month old LOVES Super Why! PBS is all he watches. He is talking so well for his age. Saying complete sentences. He can even count to 10 already! I am amazed at what all the shows teach and how they can affect a child with learning! It is Awesome!

  32. minivan dad says:

    An RSS feed linking to two episodes in MP4 version are now available for free online. Burn to DVD-R, and enjoy!

    Episode 101: The Three Little Pigs

    Episode 102: Hansel and Gretel

  33. minivan dad says:
  34. I really dislike forms that lose their content when you have an error. I said quite a bit the first time, this time I’ll just say….

    I wish shows like Super Why would leave out the letter ‘and’ when they are saying the alphabet. It is ‘y’ ‘z’ on the path, not ‘y’ ‘and’ ‘z’. This seems minor, but to a 3 year old, it turns the word ‘and’ into the 26th letter of the alphabet and ‘z’ into the 27th….

  35. My daughter loves watching Super why she already knows her abc’s and she is only 2 years old.

  36. I, too, feel the need to thank the creators of Super Why. My son, who will be three at the end of this month, didn’t even try to speak. It was like he didn’t hear me when I would talk to him. I had his hearing checked numerous times. They all told me that he could hear me fine and was just “stubborn”. I believed them, for a while. I did some research on Autism. I felt my heart sink. I thought, “OMG! Could my son be Autistic? If he is, how did it seem to escape the doctors and my attention for two and a half years?” I took him back to the doctor who told me that “He doesn’t have a lick of Autism in his body. He’s way too social.” I’m not sure I’m believing that yet either. He wouldn’t pretend in play, talk, feed himself, nothing interested him. We tried tv. a little. We tried Sesame Street, nothing could hold his attention. Then, we found Super Why. You couldn’t pull that child from the T.V. when Super Why’s on. Normally, I think people in general think it’s a bad thing for kids to be that engrossed in television. I don’t think that. This is one helluva show for kids. And, untill they’ve lived in the circumstances that revolve around a particular house, I think they should keep their judgements to themselves.

    Just about a month ago, we were watching Super Why and my son looked at me and said, “Why”. clear as day. I cried. Since then, his vocabulary continues to grow by the day. And, the little turn the characters in the show do when they “transform” to their super reader selves, yeah, my son now pretends to “transform” with them. Again, I could cry. It’s a great show that I recommend to everyone.

    Dave, one could say the same thing, and then some, about the internet. But, obviously, you have no issues with that. Don’t judge what you don’t understand.

  37. My son started watching Super Why when he was about 6 months old and he loves the show. I couldn’t believe how focused he became every time it would come on. I knew without a doubt that this was my childs favorite show! He is now 11 months old and he repeats the pronounciation of words when red is saying them. Sometimes he’ll even say the word before her!! It’s a great show. I can’t say enough about it.

  38. Brad, while I see where you are coming from, there are 26 letters in the English Alphabet actually.

  39. what year was super why created?

  40. My sn will be 3 in june 2010. We just discovered Super Why! My husband doesn’t like the show. But My son LOVES Super Why!. he pretends he is wyatt and i am wonder red. Between Super Why! and Sid the science kid I have seen my son become more insterested in EVERYTHING. I love PBS. Also just found a few episodes of SuperWhy! on netflix. So I stream them to the Computer and the x-box.


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