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

Dora and Friends

Dora and Friends

Spring 2016 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: Nickelodeon
Rating: TV G

If you recall Dora from her adorable preschool years, get set for a faster pace and grown-up adventures because Dora is now an energetic 'tween. Not so surprising, she's grown into a good-natured gal with noble pursuits and civic-minded friends, and these storylines focus on getting involved in community service. The program is still aimed at viewers ages 2 - 5, though, and even as Dora organizes toy drives and community parties, she continues to stress preschool readiness skills such as counting, literacy, and observation skills. There are plenty of peppy music numbers and, of course, Dora's lessons are still peppered with both English- and Spanish-language elements. Updates to the original Dora include nods to new technology, with the Map character now re-imagined as a "Map APP" and Dora staying in touch with everyone via a cell phone. Dora also wears a magical bracelet and its charms often hold the key to getting out of a tricky situation.

In "The Search for Mono," Dora and pals search for a boy's beloved missing toy. The quest takes them over land and into the air and incorporates lots of counting and on-screen puzzles to promote logic and problem-solving. Inspired by the boy's love of his toy, and recollecting her own favorite toy, Dora organizes a toy drive for a local children's hospital. In "Trick or Treat," Dora and her friends organize the town's Trick or Treat party. An opening song helps little ones get comfortable with scary costumes by telling them "on Halloween/things are not what they seem." Later, a stray cat leads Dora and friends to an abandoned mansion where they meet ghosts and "monsters" - but this is Dora, so it's all good-natured, even when a disgruntled witch thinks she was left off the guest list and threatens to spoil the party. And in "Return to the Rainforest," old sidekicks Backpack and Map are missing so Dora and her city pals stage a rescue that takes them into the rainforest.

According to the program's website, each episode is embedded with "lessons intended to develop preschoolers' interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, linguistics skills, and music skills" and, without a doubt, the take-away message in each episode is that helping others is always an adventure. It's an uplifting message delivered by a familiar friend, and even with the modern updates, Dora's appeal endures.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2016 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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