via press release:


PBS KIDS® Series Martha Speaks Partners with

First Book to Help Bring Books to

Underserved Communities

WGBH Administers 25 Grants to Public Television Stations to Bring Reading Buddies Programs to Local Communities



(Boston, MA, June 19, 2012) – The WGBH and PBS KIDS series Martha Speaks is partnering with literary non-profit First Book, an innovative leader in social enterprise, to help 25 public television stations bring books to underserved communities around the country through the Martha Speaks Reading Buddies program. As part of the Martha Speaks outreach initiative, WGBH is administering 25 $4,000 grants to public television stations to bring Martha Speaks Reading Buddies to their local communities.


Reading Buddies is a cross-age reading program designed to help kindergarten and upper-level elementary students increase vocabulary, develop self-esteem and social skills, and enhance their love of books and reading. In each of the 10 Reading Buddies sessions, children watch an episode of the PBS KIDS series Martha Speaks and engage in activities that reinforce four key vocabulary words depicted in the episode.


“This grant is an opportunity for underserved classrooms to receive resources that they desperately need,” says WGBH’s Mary Haggerty, Manager of Educational Outreach. “The stations we partner with will be working with a broad spectrum of communities. It’s exciting to see Reading Buddies implemented in such diverse environments.”


First Book’s partnership with Martha Speaks provides 25 public television stations, selected from across the country, with the ability to establish Martha Speaks Reading Buddies programs at a deep discount. By visiting the Martha Speaks section on the First Book marketplace website at, stations will be able to streamline book ordering, making it easier for them to implement the program and bring literacy materials to communities where such educational efforts most are needed.


“We’re delighted to work with WGBH and help bring the Martha Speaks books and materials to kids in need across the country,” adds Erica Perl, Senior Director of Publisher Relations for First Book. “The original Martha Speaks book is wonderful; First Book has been providing it to our programs for years and they love it. We’re thrilled to be able to do even more with WGBH and Martha Speaks.”


Educational Benefits of Cross-Age Mentoring Programs

Cross-age mentoring programs such as Reading Buddies are an excellent way to address the learning needs of both younger and older children. Through these programs, students improve their reading and fluency skills and gain broader literacy and social benefits. Several research studies have found that augmenting traditional classroom instruction with one-on-one interventions is a powerful combination that can accelerate students’ oral vocabulary gains (Kalkowski 1995). Others suggest that cross-age mentoring is effective at supporting children’s reading (Morrison et al. 2000; Topping and Bryce 2004).


About Martha Speaks

Now in its fourth season, Martha Speaks is based on the best-selling children’s books by Susan Meddaugh about a dog who eats alphabet soup and learns to speak. The goal of the series is to increase children’s oral vocabulary – and how better to get kids excited about learning new words than with a dog who just can’t stop talking? Martha’s antics continue online at, a comprehensive website that builds on the series’ curriculum to bolster the oral vocabulary of 4- to 7-year-olds. Distributed internationally by DHX Media, Martha Speaks also airs on TVO, Knowledge Network, and SCN and has been acquired by broadcasters across Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.


Martha Speaks is a production of WGBH Boston and DHX Media. Martha Speaks series funding is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Corporate funding is provided by Chuck E. Cheese’s®, Kiddie Academy® Child Care Learning Centers, and Chick-fil-A, Inc. Additional funding provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations…Dedicated to Strengthening America’s Future Through Education, by the WGBH Children’s Educational Media Fund and by public television viewers.


© 2012 WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved. “Martha” and all characters and underlying materials (including artwork) from the “Martha” books are trademarks of and copyrights of Susan Meddaugh and used under license. All other characters and underlying materials are trademarks of and copyrights of WGBH. All third party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Used with permission.


About First Book

First Book has distributed more than 90 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.  By making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. For more information, please visit them online or follow their latest news on Facebook and Twitter.



PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online and community-based programs. For more information on specific PBS KIDS programs supporting literacy, science, math and more, visit , or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter and Facebook.


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Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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