Meet Angela Santomero, Creator Of Super Why!

INTERVIEWS | | August 5, 2009 at 6:19 am

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You know how some people die to see their favorite singer or band? Well, when I heard that I may get the opportunity to meet the creator of the PBS children’s show Super Why, Angelo Santomero,  I was super excited. Trust me, no exaggeration here. I am pretty involved in my children’s education, especially in a house of early readers, you would need to be. What I love about mommy blogging events is that at times you get to take your kids along.

Well other than the PBS guys providing childcare and lunch for the kids (and us) the kids were also entertained by the Curious George and Martha (from Martha Speaks) characters who popped in to surprise the kids.  While we settled ourselves to a roundtable discussion and presentation I waited anxiously to see this woman who was behind the wonder of Super Why.

A little about Super Why is that it starts with a real problem (that a kid might typically have) and then the team of Why – or Whyatt (brother of Jack from Jack and The Beanstalk), Red (Red Riding Hood), Pig (The 3 Little Pigs) and Princess Presto (The daughter of Princess from Princess and the Pea). They meet in the library to decide to solve the problem, and then transform (capes and all) and head out on the Y-Flyers to get into a story to seek the answer through a familiar character in a story (with a similar predicament). Along the way they collect “super letters” and that creates the answer to the problem. I know that you are reading a blog post because time is of the essence so I will try and condense this posts (even though there is so much to say).

Angela created the theory behind Super Why as part of her thesis while doing her PhD. Aiming to make literacy fun is no easy task. But here is what I love about Super Why:

  • There are 2 girls in the team of 4. Yes, this mama always looks out for her girlfriends.
  • There is a girl of color. And yes, this colored mama notices these things.
  • There is a pig in the team. I loved that twisted diversity.
  • The team wears capes. Seriously, don’t you wish you wore them too? Or is it just me?
  • They change the story when it just does not make sense.
  • They deal with the princess not needing a prince issue perfectly. I have always had an issue with the whole princess thingy. And before you go about saying how prejudiced I am, I have nothing against princesses but against stories that depict that she ALWAYS needs a prince. In one episode (yes I watch with my kids, it is important to know the influences on your kid) Princess Presto had just turned the toad into a prince and he did not want to play with her and then she turned him back to a toad so he could continue playing with her.
  • They have the coolest songs and make the library look hip.

The guys at Super Why take the show to the streets, or schools rather to find out whether there is merit in what the show teaches.  I loved even more that they took it to schools in need in the form of reading camps and proved, via an independent researcher, that it drastically improves literacy. How’s that for making a difference. I was happy to find that there is now a whole line of toys and games to match. We were lucky to get some of it in the wonderful PBS backpack we took home. We got to take the at home working kit so that we could continue the activities offline. You can download them atwww.pbs.org/parents/childrenandmedia/learningwithmedia/ These are excellent workbooks where you can find activities and masks.

I know what you are thinking, “Did Mommy Niri remember her readers?” Well, of course. I will be hosting a Super Why DVD giveaway (so enter now) . Watch this space or just subscribe to  Mommy Niri or become a fan of the Mommy Niri Facebook page to keep u-to-date of the latest happenings.


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