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PBS KIDS Announces New Series ‘Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures’

The collection of animated musical shorts inspired by the original ‘Super Why!’ series aims to help grow the literacy skills of young readers; show premieres October 18.

On October 18, PBS KIDS will premiere Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures, a series of 2D animated shorts aimed at helping to expand the literacy skills of preschool and kindergarten-age children. The inspiration for the new shorts, the 2007 Emmy Award-nominated Super Why! series, boosted children’s early literacy skills and helped them learn to read. In the series, the literacy-powered superheroes leap into a stylized comic book world for a new storytelling twist, complete with catchy original songs that break down key skills for early readers. 9 Story Media Group produced the series, with animation by its award-winning studio Brown Bag Films.

Research suggests that early literacy instruction should focus on developing awareness of the segments of sounds in speech and how they link to letters through systematic instruction of phonological awareness and phonics skills. Each of the 20, three-minute shorts focuses on these foundational reading and writing skills, including letter-sound identification and decoding words, blending sounds and alliteration, spelling, punctuation, and more, all wrapped up in an action-packed, humor-filled, and kid-relatable story.

Many of the familiar fairytale characters from the original series, known as Super Readers, are back, including Super Why, who loves comic books and has the power to read, along with Princess Presto and Wonder Red. New to the series is “super fan” Power Paige, a Super Reader who joins the team with her power pencil, which has the ability to write and erase words, letters, and punctuation. Together, the Super Readers set things straight for the readers of Reader Valley – and young viewers across the country. 

Watch: Super Why's Comic Book Adventures: “Word Storm!”

The series also introduces audiences to quirky Literacy Villains who mix up reading rules that the Super Readers must correct. These characters include: More Man, who adds an “s” to the end of words to make them plural, adding more words and sentences; The Shuffler, who likes to mix things up; The Eraser, who erases letters and words; and Outta Space, an extraterrestrial who zaps spaces from between words.

Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures is created and developed by Alex Breen (Charlie’s Colorforms City, Super Why!) and Sarah Wallendjack (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Charlie’s Colorforms City), who also serves as Executive Producer with Angela C. Santomero (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Blue’s Clues). Geri Bertolo serves as the director and Stefan L. Smith as the series composer. 9 Story holds worldwide distribution and consumer product rights.

The multi-award-winning Super Why! series created by Angela C. Santomero (based on a concept co-created with Traci Page Johnson and Jennifer Twomey) for PBS KIDS, was the first preschool show designed to help children learn to read through interactive storybook adventures. The series follows the magical adventures of four fairytale friends who jump into books and become reading-powered superheroes to save the day.

Since its premiere, Super Why! has generated nearly 180 million streams per year across PBS KIDS-owned digital platforms and more than 40 million views per year on the PBS KIDS YouTube channel, making it one of the most popular PBS KIDS series. In addition to the series, Super Why! has impacted kids across the country through the Super Why! app and Super Why! Reading Camps, which build on the signature early literacy approach of the popular series to extend its unique interactive reading approach into communities across the country. Research indicates that these camps boost reading skills, with participants showing gains in all literacy skills presented in the program, and preschoolers showing an 84% gain in phonics skills and a 139% gain in word recognition skills after attending a 5-day camp.

“We are so excited to introduce Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures, with its fresh, musically-driven format, to a new generation of Super Why! fans,” said Sara DeWitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PBS KIDS. “The dynamic comic book design makes it an aspirational Super Reader superhero experience that will support and encourage today’s budding readers.”

Wendy Harris, SVP & Head of Creative Affairs for 9 Story Media Group and co-creator of the original Super Why! series said, “It’s exciting to see Super Why! return to PBS KIDS with fresh adventures in a brand-new format. We’re so proud of its remarkable staying power, engaging kids and teaching early literacy skills for over fifteen years. We can’t wait to offer parents and kids Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures and create a whole new generation of Super Readers!”

“When I first created Super Why! as my Master's Thesis at Teachers College, Columbia University, I put a lot of care, thought, and research into it, but never imagined it would influence kids to learn and love to read – 20 years later! It's a dream come true,” said Santomero.

Source: PBS KIDS

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.