Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Dora the Explorer

Dora the Explorer

Spring 2013 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: Nickelodeon
Network: Nickelodeon
Rating: TV Y

Bilingual little Dora, of Dora the Explorer fame, has charmed preschoolers and outlasted many other children's shows since her program premiered on Nickelodeon in 2000. One of the reasons Dora has endured is because of the deceptively simple show format, which hasn't changed much over the decade: Preschool viewers learn about helpfulness and cooperation while also practicing letter, number, and color identification; problem-solving and logic skills; and basic Spanish-language instruction. She's joined by a cast of whimsical characters, including a map, a backpack, and a monkey pal named Boots, among others, and their adventures include musical interludes and easy audience-engagement games.

Because the show is rooted in imagination, there's no danger of running out of storylines. They run the gamut from the real and recognizable school science fair to a whimsical underwater adventure in which Dora helps a young mermaid battle an evil queen so she can reunite with her mother. And in a recent episode, "Dora's Knighthood Adventure," Dora and her friends learn that anyone can be a Knight as long as they help others. Eager to help her pal Boots become a Knight, Dora finds a princess in need of rescuing. The message here is good, though perhaps Dora could have found a way to present a stronger female role model by making the princess the hero of the story rather than a helpless and hapless victim.

Still, the overarching theme of Dora the Explorer emphasizes cooperation and character development, two concepts that will never be out of fashion, so expect more Dora adventures for a long time to come.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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