DragonTales is the most popular television
show to be made by PBS
in recent history. Launched two years ago, Dragon Tales is an animated series, aimed at the pre-kindergarten
The main human characters of the show are a brother, Max, aged 4, and Emmie, aged 6. They discover in the new house they move into a dragon scale, which if they hold and say: "I wish I wish with all my heart to fly with dragons in a land apart" - KAFLAM, spinning dragons take them there.
There, the main characters are a set of dragons. Emmie and Cassie, the smallest and most intelligent dragon are best friends, while Zac and Ord, the largest, but scared at heart dragons are best friends. They are also joined by a two headed, brother-sister, dragon with the names Zak and Wheezie.
The dragons attend a school with a wise old teacher named Quetzal. This gets into one of the more interesting sociological aspects of the show - Quetzal is modeled on a Mexican-American (thanks to czeano for this catch) - but is obviously named after Quetzal, a bird famous in both Mayan and Aztec mythology. The bird is named for Quetzalcoatl. Similarly, both Max and Emmie are Mexican-American.
This marks one of the major shifts in PBS programming - while Sesame Street had always acknowledged and celebrated ethnic differences, with the advent of shows like Dora The Explorer, going beyond acknowledging and including Spanish in the show has become very normal.
It works, as well. My currently four year old daughter knows a number of Spanish phrases, and tests my high school Spanish vocabulary by asking other phrases and words in Spanish.
Beyond the social engineering aspect of integration, the show also teaches the value of cooperation, mutual respect, and tolerance.