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

Martha Speaks

Martha Speaks

Spring 2010 Television
Ages: 4 - 7 yrs.
Network: PBS
Martha Speaks is an animated half-hour PBS series for kids ages 4 to 7. The program's peppy theme song explains how Martha the dog ate a bowl of alphabet soup and magically acquired the powers of speech. Not only does Martha speak, she speaks very well.

Each half-hour episode offers two unique stories, and Martha introduces new vocabulary words that are logical parts of the plot - for instance, "prejudice," "sociable" and "tolerate" are neatly woven into a storyline in which top-dog Martha has to contend with a new pet kitty. In another episode, Martha investigates a case of stolen peanuts at the zoo and incorporates "culprit," "clue" and "motive" in the conversation. Martha Speaks storylines are simple and fun, offering age-appropriate character lessons and problem-solving strategies along the way. However, Martha's main mission is to increase viewers' vocabulary. She addresses the camera directly to explain the definition of new words and to reinforce the point by using the words repeatedly in conversation. Martha Speaks has many good things to say, and thanks to the comfortable pace, and sweet, simple animation, it's sure to help little viewers build big vocabularies.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2010 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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