Liberty's Kids is a "revolutionary" new series that airs on Channel 8 at 5:00 pm weekdays. This is the best PBS kids show that I've seen in a long time.
The story of the American Revolution and the birth of our nation is told through the eyes of two teenagers - a girl from England who is visiting America, and a boy who is an apprentice at Benjamin Franklin's print shop - along with Henri, their young French friend, and Moses, a former slave who is now a free man. The characters of Sarah, a headstrong British loyalist, and James, a cocky young colonist, give us both sides of the story.
Liberty's Kids is an exciting adventure in which today's kids can discover the real heroes and events that gave birth to the United States of America. The kids meet soldiers, spies, Indians, Torries, traitors, Hessians, statesmen, farmers and townsfolk in the midst of one of the most dramatic times in America's history. In doing so, they gain insight into the complex ideas, perspectives, and motivations for the American Revolution.
Andy Heyward, Chairman of DIC Entertainment, the creators of Liberty's Kids, said: "We are proud to bring the important stories of our nation to the consciousness of our youth and integrate its value into children's everyday lives." This upbeat series is aimed at 7 to 12-year-olds - the ages of my two older boys, but even my 2-year-old likes it - and the show is so interesting that I always end up watching it with them!
While based on historical events, Liberty's Kids touches on issues that are still current in modern America - taxation, freedom of the press, race relations, the role of government, and gun control. (The British demand the colonists to "Surrender your weapons!" but the Patriots refuse.) With all of the politically correct textbooks and liberal-minded programs being produced these days, it's refreshing to see that this show did not rewrite history, but portrays it accurately and patriotically.
George Washington is presented as a noble, larger-than-life hero to look up to. He orders his troops to study Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlet "as you would learn your Bible." Patrick Henry recites his famous speech, and I was impressed that the scriptwriters didn't edit out his references to God. The phrase "God be with you!" is clearly stated by Nathan Hale, and several other episodes contain biblical references as well.
This educational, entertaining series is composed of colorful, high quality animation with beautifully detailed backgrounds. The hip opening music sequence (performed by Aaron Carter) isn't true to the historical period, but at least it attracts kids' attention to watch the show.
Along with the main plot that continues from day to day, the series features segments with guessing games; riddles and sayings spoken by Ben Franklin (voiced by Walter Cronkite); a comparison of everyday life today to the way things were back then; and each episode includes interesting or little-known facts. In addition, kids are introduced to the field of journalism and the power of words.
Famous revolutionary characters and founding fathers come and go throughout Liberty's Kids, played by an all-star cast of actors. (See if you can recognize the voices of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson, Michael York, and Whoopi Goldberg.) All of the above is covered in a fast-paced half hour that leaves you wanting to find out what happens next.
The Liberty's Kids series began on Labor Day and continued up to the point when France and America became allies, then it started over again from the beginning. I hope they are working on creating more episodes! [P.S. They are! Each time they re-run it, a few new episodes are added at the end, and the show is scheduled to run for a total of two years, covering the period from 1773 to 1789.]
Whether you jump into the middle of Liberty's Kids or have already been watching regularly, you are sure to enjoy the adventure while learning something along the way. I hope this kids history series will prove to be popular and result in more "you are there" types of programs for other historical periods.
Parents can view an episode guide, and kids can play games related to the show and conduct additional research at www.pbskids.org.
Liberty's Kids will soon be available on Warner Bros. Home Video. These would be good to have in a homeschool library, as the series is an excellent introduction to the birth of America that will get kids interested in the study of history. In addition, The Learning Company has produced a Liberty's Kids CD-ROM for ages 7-12. It contains seven challenging re-playable events with more than 30 interactive animated characters. Kids can watch mini-movies from the TV show, interview historical characters, play puzzles and games, create and print a newspaper. Basically, players go on a historical scavenger hunt to collect missing objects and get characters to answer Who, What, Where, Why and How questions. In doing so, they gather facts about major historical events such as the Boston Tea Party and the writing of The Declaration of Independence. This information is recorded in a notebook and later pieced together into a front-page story. The CD-ROM also contains quizzes and an expansive reference guide. List price is $24.99.
P.S. If you like Liberty's Kids, you will also like The American Adventure series!
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