April 17, 2021

‘A Sense of Belonging’ for Hispanic Children, With Puppets

But only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters across 1,200 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018 were Latino, according to a 2019 study by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Broadcasters have occasionally tried to reach young Hispanic audiences, often with cartoon programming like Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer,” about the adventures of a young animated Latina and her friends. In 2016, the Disney Channel introduced “Elena of Avalor,” an animated series praised for featuring Disney’s first Latina princess. Univision has “Planeta U” a Saturday programming block of animated and educational programs aimed at children ages 2 to 8.

And for decades, “Sesame Street” has featured Rosita, a blue bilingual puppet from Mexico.

“Club Mundo Kids,” in contrast, puts real people in front of the camera, including a host, children and guest experts, and makes a point of talking to children ages 6 and up about Latino life in a real-world context.

“It’s a real opportunity to meet Spanish-speaking kids where they are and to help them build language and reading skills, like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Reading Rainbow’ has been doing for decades in English,’’ said Jason Ruiz, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame.

He added that the show, possibly alone among programs for children, “will be symbolically important for giving Spanish-dominant kids a sense of belonging by having a show aimed directly at them.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/06/arts/television/mundo-kids-hispanic-tv.html

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