First, let me say this: The theme music for Super Why! may irritate you from the moment you hear it. It’s repetitive with little substance. Heaven forbid you see a commercial for this show because that version will be even more repetitive with even less value. That being said, the show actually is okay.
Super Why! promotes literacy skills for the little ones. The target audience is preschoolers aged three to six, though the younger ones and slightly older ones may also enjoy it. At two-years-old, my little one was already interested and enjoyed recognizing letters.
In each episode a group of friends—Whyatt Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Pig and Princess Pea—embark on solving a problem, typically something small like clarifying instructions or getting a baby brother to stop crying. To learn how to solve the problem, they transform into superhero versions of themselves and dive into a story.
The stories they visit are regular children’s stories, most of which you probably already know and may be familiar to your grandchildren as well (e.g., The Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea or Jack and the Beanstalk).
Throughout their visit, “the super readers” team encourages viewers to find “super letters” to solve a puzzle at the end, to help identify particular letters needed to make a decision (like “find a path marked with the letter r”) or to select rhyming words.
Toward the end of a story, the super readers will put a sentence from the story up on the screen, providing little ones an excellent opportunity to practice reading. Then Super Why (a.k.a. Whyatt) will ask the viewers to help him change a word in the story to change the outcome.
Once they have fixed the story, the super readers return to their own situation and figure out how to apply the lesson from the story to their own problem.
With lessons in the alphabet, rhyming, reading, word choice and problem solving, Super Why! is an educational choice. It may not be as entertaining to you as an adult but kids seem to like it. It will also give you an opportunity to help teach your birds and talk about elements from the episode.
Super Why! airs on PBS and Sprout and is also available on Netflix. Visit pbskids.org/superwhy/ for more information and activities.
S.M. Hutchins is mom to a curious toddler and full-time stepmom to a teenager. She is a writer and copyeditor perpetually seeking the mystery, magic and wonder in everyday life. See more from S.M. Hutchins at www.livewonderstruck.com.