Arlington, VA — August 29, 2007 — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS, through the Ready To Learn initiative, are rolling out new research-based content and tools this fall, beginning with the Monday, September 3 PBS KIDS launch of two new, interactive literacy-oriented series for preschoolers, Super WHY! and WordWorld. The Ready To Learn initiative uses engaging, multi-platform content and tools to help 2-8-year-old children, especially those from low-income families, acquire the skills they need to learn to read.

All of the Ready To Learn initiative content is being developed using a common, research-based framework designed to teach young children the fundamentals of reading. The literacy framework is based on the recommendations of the National Reading Panel of 2000, which outlines building blocks for teaching young children how to read and key skills children need to master reading from preschool through third grade.

These scientifically based reading research concepts, including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension, support the development of all content – on-air, online and in formal and informal educational settings.

In addition to the new series, other tools are currently being tested and/or developed that will also be available to support parents, caregivers and formal and informal day care providers over the next few months, including:

  • A 32-week multi-media preschool, research-based curriculum;
  • Online professional development for informal and formal day care providers; and
  • An aggregated literacy website where kids can play games that build literacy skills, and parents and caregivers can track their progress;

    The Ready To Learn initiative is also exploring ways of using new technology to deliver research-based literacy content to families of young children, wherever they are, via cell phones and other mobile devices.

    To broaden the impact of these resources, the Ready To Learn initiative also includes an aggressive target market outreach campaign, powered by a ?Literacy 360°? approach, which is designed to surround children and families with learning opportunities where they live and are most likely to interact. Social marketing research has been conducted to target and identify low-income families at the neighborhood level. Local public television stations in these markets are important partners in the outreach effort. The long-term goal is to achieve measurable results in improving literacy skills of these children in target markets, and build successful models that can be replicated across the country.

    Selected after careful review of factors including children?s reading scores, ethnic and geographic diversity and concentration of children from low-income families, the first 10 target markets are Baltimore/Maryland Public Television; Birmingham/Alabama Public Television; Buffalo, NY/WNED; .Carbondale, IL/WSIU; Jackson, MS/ Mississippi Public Broadcasting; Oakland and San Francisco, CA/KQED; San Antonio, TX/KLRN; Toledo, OH/WGTE; San Diego, CA/KPBS; and State College, PA/WPSU.

    ?This new research-based content is helping to arm us with the best tools possible as we work, especially in our target markets, to narrow the learning gap among high poverty children,? said Jayne James, CPB?s executive director of the Ready To Learn initiative.

    ?We are especially excited to be able to take this high-quality content beyond the television screen in children?s homes and adapt it for use wherever kids and those who care for them are ? including online, and in formal and informal day care settings,? said PBS Senior Vice President of Education Rob Lippincott.

    The two new, engaging PBS KIDS Ready To Learn series that are debuting September 3 are Super WHY! and WordWorld.

    Super WHY! is an animated preschool series from Out of the Blue Enterprises. This superhero show is designed to boost literacy skills through interactive fairytale adventures that encourage viewers to participate through entertaining and engaging games.

    In WordWorld, words are truly the stars of the show. Created by Don Moody and presented by WTTW, each episode is a fun narrative built around the WordFriends, who are characters first and words second. WordWorld is a colorful, vibrant, word-rich place where friends have fun and meet challenges in the same way: through WordPlay.

    In addition to Super WHY! and WordWorld, a number of other media projects are under development from producers of some of the most imaginative educational programming ever created, including Sesame Workshop, WGBH, Out of the Blue Enterprises and Word World Productions. In addition, proven content from properties like Sesame Street and Between the Lions, will play a critical role in the Ready To Learn initiative.

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS and The Ready To Learn Partnership, in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, have joined together in the Ready To Learn initiative. It is an innovative, five-year project consisting of two programming awards (CPB/PBS and WTTW/the Ready to Learn Partnership) and one outreach award (CPB/PBS) designed to locate and connect with kids from low-income families in 20 target markets.

    About PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO!
    PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, are committed to providing the highest quality non-commercial content and learning environment for children across the country. Providing age-appropriate, diverse programming for kids, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! programs consistently earn more prestigious awards than any other broadcast or cable network. Only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. With additional PBS resources to complement its programming, including PBS KIDS online (http://pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! online (http://pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (http://pbsparents.org), PBS Teachers (http://pbs.org/teachers), PBS Ready To Learn services and literacy events across the country, PBS is providing the tools necessary for positive child development. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation?s 355 public television stations, serving nearly 73 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.

    About CPB
    CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government?s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1000 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related on-line services.

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