Chances are high that many of you who grew up with “Arthur” are now seeing your children do the same. After over 250 episodes, including many fabulous guest voices and innumerable sassy remarks from D.W., final new episodes air this winter. (In case you were wondering, in Season 19 Arthur moved from third to fourth grade, where he will finish out his television career.)
“Arthur” episodes will remain in circulation for some time to come, which leads to a question I frequently receive: Why do PBS Kids episodes repeat so often? From a financial perspective, animated shows take a long time to make and can be very costly. But there are other practical considerations at work, including an observation you likely have made about your own kids – they enjoy repeat viewings of beloved programs long past the point of adult exhaustion. (Sing with me: “Let it go ….”)
We know that young kids see characters as very real and valuable participants in their lives, and they take comfort in revisiting familiar stories, whether in book, video or oral form. Sometimes, stories with some complexity can offer new items for kids to notice each time around, but that novelty doesn’t seem to be a requirement. Checking in with a wellknown world can simply be enough for the kids. As for the parents, when the story has a positive message, you can take comfort that learning is getting reinforced.
I leave you with a choice D.W. quote: “That sign won’t stop me because I can’t read.”
Benjamin Kramer, PhD, is the director of education for Austin PBS.