Just last night I was reading a Thomas the Tank engine story to my 2 year old daughter Vivian.
She amazed me by pointing to the different trains on the pages and naming them.
I mistakenly called one engine Gordon,
"No, not Gordon." she corrected me, "Henry!"
Sure enough she was right.
Kids really pick up on the color, shape, number, and facial features of each train. .
I think there are many useful learning tools in the show about that very useful engine, Thomas the Tank .
Besides learning colors and numbers they are also learning interpersonal communication. The trains learn to cooperate, work together as a team, and although they do often bicker, they also learn to problem solve and work it out.
But here are results from a study by University of Alberta, Augustana professor,
"After analyzing 23 TV episodes about Thomas and his friends, Shauna Wilton concluded that the mythical island of Sodor was a world of few female characters with a social hierarchy based on fear and minding your place."
You can read the full article here.
It is true, there aren't a lot of strong female roles in Thomas the Tank, they do play secondary roles. Honestly I really don't know if one train is male or female until the narrarator like George Carlin, or Alec Baldwin starts talking in a higher voice.
But on the flip side should we start analyzing the male roles in say, Dora the Explorer? Let's see, off the top of my head. There's a coniving, shifty fox named Swiper, a slightly hyper sidekick, Boots, and a grumpy and demanding troll.
The quote in the article that stood out to me was this -
"People say it's a show for boys, but I think it's important for boy and girl children both to see strong female characters. Let kids watch the show, just talk to them about what they're seeing."
That's really the main point to me about any children's show. You need to be actively involved. Sit and talk to your kids about what's going on in the shows they are watching. Ask them how they feel about certain situations going on, if you don't agree with something or how a character is behaving discuss why.
What are your thoughts?