June 24, 2009

Media Advisory -- WSIU SuperWHY! Reading Camp

With the help of reading hero SuperWHY!, 20 preschool students from the region are spending this week sharpening their reading fundamentals at John A. Logan College.

The second SuperWHY! Reading Camp -- based on the popular Emmy-nominated PBS Kids TV series “SuperWHY” -- helps preschool children develop reading fundamentals through interactive storybook adventures.

On Friday, June 26, the four- and five-year-olds, most of whom will be entering kindergarten this year, celebrate “SuperYOU” Day by showing off their reading skills and singing songs to parents and their families at the John A. Logan College preschool, 700 Logan College Road in Carterville. As a special treat, SuperWhy! will arrive in the WSIU Literacy Van to greet campers and participate in fun literacy adventures and games. The children will also receive their Super Reader certificates, and have individual photos taken with SuperWHY.

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the closing day activities. The event is from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Beth Spezia, WSIU’s outreach coordinator, and Cheryl Lee of De Soto, the lead teacher at the camp, along with the children and their families will be available for interviews. For more information, contact Spezia at 618/453-5595, or via email at beth.spezia@wsiu.org.

In addition, SuperWhy! series creator Angela Antomero is also available for interviews to discuss the show’s development, the importance of the reading camps, the research results, and how parents can use media in boosting their child’s’ reading skills. To make arrangements to speak with Antomero, contact Gabrielle Torello at Grand Communications, Inc., at 917/312-2832.

Antomero, who also created Blues Clues, initially developed SuperWHY! as her master’s thesis at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, said Monica Tichenor, the public information and promotion coordinator for WSIU Public Broadcasting.

SuperWHY! gives young children very specific skills that will help them enter kindergarten in a state of readiness to read, Spezia said. The superheroes also include “Princess Presto” (spelling power), “Alpha Pig” (alphabet power),” and “Wonder Red (word power),” and provide children fundamental word and letter exercises in a fun way, Spezia said.

WSIU-TV is a participating station in the PBS KIDS Raising Readers initiative, which uses research-based, innovative television programs and related multi-media content to help meet the critical literacy needs of children between two and eight years old from low-income families.

Lee “will model skills for other preschool educators around the region, so the scientific techniques used in the SuperWhy! camps can be incorporated into preschool curricula throughout our service region,” Spezia said.

Recent research of SuperWhy! reading camps indicate participants are showing “significant improvements in core literacy skills,” Tichenor said.

“According to research, kids who can read, and read well by the fourth grade do better in all subject areas,” she said. “The Raising Readers initiative helps fill the gap for at-risk children who often start school with a vastly reduced vocabulary and minimal understanding of basic reading fundamentals, which in turn puts them at a significant disadvantage in learning among their peers.”

SuperWHY! airs on WSIU TV at 8 a.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. on Sundays.