Thursday, August 27, 2009

PBS KIDS Series Between the Lions Roars into Ninth Season


Everyone's Favorite Felines Feature "The Beetles,"
"Hip-Hoppopotamus," an All-Animated Episode, and a Trip to Alaska

Celebrated as the gold standard of children's educational television, the Emmy® Award-winning series Between the Lions returns for its ninth season this fall. Continuing its commitment to introducing the joys of reading and key literacy skills to children ages three to seven in an entertaining way, 10 new episodes premiere Monday, September 21 on PBS KIDS (check local listings).

This season, the literacy-loving lion pride--Theo, Cleo, Lionel, and Leona--discover books and stories covering widely diverse topics--from jobs and construction vehicles, to wind and weather, to seasons and celebrations. Each subject is introduced through catchy songs, lovable characters, and wonderful books, such as Night Shift, which highlights the many important jobs carried out in the wee hours--from street sweeper to security guard.

"This season illustrates the unparalleled variety of stories and skills that our series introduces to children," said Executive Producer Judy Stoia. "From non-fiction to folktales, music videos to poetry, live action to Greek myths, Between the Lions represents a truly remarkable diversity of text genres and characters unmatched by any other children's series on television."

During these new episodes, the Lions also break out of the library for some off-the-page adventures. Cubs Lionel and Leona discover the swirling wonders of nature during a boat ride down the river, and the whole family heads to Alaska to learn all about salmon. Alaska native children are featured in several episodes throughout the season, introducing viewers to letter sounds, vocabulary, and their unique communities.

In addition to an animated special, other new elements of the season include several new characters such as "The Beetles," who wow viewers with their rousing rendition of the book Beetle Bop, and the rap duo "Hip-Hoppopotamus and Rhymosaurus." An all-new band, "Phlounder" (not to be confused with another Phishy group), rocks out the song "It's a p-h!" Also joining the regular cast list are beloved "dinos" Velociraptor and Brachiosaurus, who demonstrate several strategies that help viewers read difficult words. These sure-to-become favorites are woven in with returning faces and segments including Arty Smartypants, Cliff Hanger, Opposite Bunny, Joy Learno, and more.

"With this fun and lovable cast, Between the Lions takes advantage of how television can demonstrate and teach all the critical elements of literacy, including letter recognition, phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension," said Chris Cerf, Executive Producer for Sirius Thinking, co-creator and co-producer of the series. "These characters, songs, and stories directly respond to the challenges and needs of children learning to read in preschool and early elementary classrooms today," added Marie Antoon, co-producer and Executive Director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting. "We know it has made a difference in children's lives in Mississippi."

Between the Lions Takes Pride in Proven Success Stories:

Research has proven the impact of Between the Lions, including a recent study, which demonstrated that preschoolers at risk for reading failure made significant gains in reading skills after using an educational curriculum based on Between the Lions. Another study found that kindergarten students who viewed the series significantly outperformed non-viewing peers and gained skills at a faster rate.*

For more information about Between the Lions, including stories, games, and parent and teacher resources, please visit

About Between the Lions:

Between the Lions is a multimedia educational initiative created to help children ages three to seven acquire beginning reading skills and a love of reading. Built around a curriculum that incorporates the most recent scientific research in literacy instruction, each episode features an engaging variety of animation, puppetry, live action, and music. The series is part of PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a national reading initiative focused on helping children ages two to eight, especially those from low-income families, to build their reading skills.

Between the Lions is produced by WGBH Boston, Sirius Thinking, Ltd., and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Between the Lions is funded in part by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education's Ready To Learn grant, and by the Barksdale Reading Institute. National corporate funding provided by Chick-fil-A, Inc.


PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, offer all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online and community outreach programs. With positive role models and content designed to nurture a child's total well-being, PBS's children's media and family and educator resources - including PBS KIDS online (, PBS KIDS GO! online (, PBS Parents (, PBS Teachers (, PBS KIDS Raising Readers and literacy events across the country - leverage the full spectrum of media, technology and community to build knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity. Empowering children for success in school and in life, only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 356 public television stations, serving more than 115 million people on-air and online each month.

* Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania Study, 2007-2008 University of Kansas Study, 2000

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