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

Dora The Explorer

Dora The Explorer

Spring 2014 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Manufacturer: Nickelodeon
Rating: TVY

For well over a decade now, preschoolers have been fascinated by the show Dora the Explorer with its title character, a joyous bilingual heroine who leads everyone on a series of animated and educational adventures. This program premiered on Nickelodeon in 2000 and its format hasn't wavered. Dora and a cast of whimsical characters—among them a map, a backpack, and a monkey named Boots—visit new places and solve problems to help viewers build basic skills such as color, shape, number and letter recognition. Dialogue is delivered mostly in English peppered with Spanish phrases for basic foreign-language instruction; and Dora often speaks directly to viewers to encourage logic and social skills. Episodes include frequent musical interludes, simple activities and, depending on the storyline, additional cultural or educational facts incorporated into the script.

In Dora and Sparky's Riding Adventure, Dora cares for a horse and their ride engages little viewers in memory and mapping games. In Dora's Great Roller Skate Adventure, Dora can't wait to join her friends at a park and they practice counting by even and odd numbers along the way. Once they arrive, bullies put a damper on the fun and it's up to Dora and Boots to model ways to address such unpleasant behavior. In Dora's Rainforest Talent Show, Benny the Bull is scheduled to appear at a talent show—but Benny, Dora and Boots end up in a runaway hot air balloon and they must solve a series of challenges to make their way back home.

Parents who hear these programs play again (and again and again) may grow weary of the silly voices, sound effects, and exuberant music, but producers of Dora the Explorer seem to be following the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it rule. Expect to see plenty of new Dora adventures delivered in the proven old format for a long time to come.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2014 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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