When you type, “wholesome family shows” into Google the results tend to be dated shows, such as Full House, Sesame Street, or 7th Heaven. This may lead you to wonder is family-first entertainment a thing of the past?
Where is the Mr. Rogers of present day? Are children’s shows merely occupying time, rather than actually teaching them something?
Thanks to the contributions of Yukon Media Development there is a new Yukon-based television show, called Look at My Book, that launched on March 26 on Northwestel’s cable channel. The pilot episode will run three times daily at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for at least two weeks.
Look at My book was created for a preschool audience. It has an intentionally retro-feel, and it focuses on the skills that children need to learn to read.
The fuzzy puppets and jovial songs make learning to read seem fun for kids. Undoubtedly, the task of helping a little person to navigate the world of words is certainly a daunting task. From this show, parents or caregivers might gain some strategies to assist little ones with early literacy.
This is the type of family-first programming that you can curl up under a blanket and watch with a child. The show will introduce you to the colourful “alphabet bears.” Each bear represents a different letter, has a unique name, and a positive message associated with their letter.
The alphabet bear Uta for example, reminds children, “You are special and unique. You use your special gifts to find the dreams you seek.”
The other alphabet bears have equally positive messages to share with your children as they learn about phonetic sounds.
While celebrating books is the central theme of the program, the pilot episode also explores other important developmental themes, such as learning about body image. This is not the Paw Patrol-style of go-go-go entertainment; rather, this show intentionally explores more complex content to help children expand their attention span, and learn to ask respectful questions of others.
Somehow, Look at My Book keeps the topic of body image – a typically heavy subject – light-hearted while not undermining the importance of seeing ourselves and others as unique and special.
The creator of the show is Michael Brooks, a former primary school teacher who has been working in the field of children’s literacy for nearly three decades. Brooks admits that the irony is not lost on him that he has created a television show to encourage children to read books; yet, he sees the show as a starting point to ignite a spark in children to become lifelong readers.
Brooks himself is featured in the show in a snazzy sequin jacket with a full cast of Yukoners. Alongside Brooks, actor, and singer-songwriter, Nicole Edwards, and puppeteer Rob Pelletier wrote the script for the pilot episode.
Edwards, together with Fiona Wen and Rob Pelletier’s puppets are the stars of the show.
Edwards is a Yukon-based singer-songwriter who has recorded five albums, and regularly performs at festivals. The puppeteer for the show, Rob Pelletier is a father of three children, so naturally he makes his puppet characters Stu and Bluey lovable.
Finally, child actor Fiona Wen brings a bilingual component and musical talent to the show.
Look at My Book was created, written, filmed and produced in the Yukon at a Whitehorse-based studio. It is a showcase of Yukon imaginative talent from a number of creative professionals with decades of experience in early literacy.
If nothing else, sitting down to watch Look at My Book will provide a time for you to slow down from the demands of parenthood, to snuggle those special little people while gaining some tips for yourself to help them learn to read.