The Passion Of Dora The Explorer

>My daughter is in love with Dora. She will eat only if Dora’s on. If she is upset over something, Dora will calm her down. If I need to get some work done and need 30 minutes or so of leave-me-alone-got-to-work time, Dora usually comes to the rescue. I have tried other cartoon series and they do work but at the end of the episode it always DUUUUAAAAA (that’s Dora in Rhea’s language).

This power of Dora (and at times Blue’s Clues) is truly amazing. What is it about Dora that really fascinates the likes of Rhea? My colleagues and I exchange notes on what new things are kids have learned and, in variably, it’s related to Dora in some way. For example, Rhea now recites 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. How did she start, you ask? She started by first reciting the numbers in Spanish after listening to it on Dora!!! For the uninitiated Dora is a Spanish character. Therefore, the cartoon series is sprinkled with Spanish words which Rhea picks from time to time. The latest one is Olla (Hello).

One of the things that the producers have done differently in this cartoon series (and in Blues’ Clues) is that they try to initiate a lot of participation from the audience. When the characters come to a point where they need to make a decision or need a question answered, the audience is directed to reply. There is a short pause as the character “wait” for the audience to finish speaking. Initially, when I saw this mode I thought “who the hell will participate in this game?” And I saw my daughter doing exactly what the producers want from their audience. She is still not at the point where she will reply to each query Dora poses but she has started to recognise points where she will reply exactly what Dora wants.

This kind of participation is probably derived from the internet because you see the arrow being used to assist the audience in answering some questions. It also keeps the audience a little alert. Rhea went through a phase where she was fascinated by Hindi songs. She would insist I put them on and then stare at the screen for a long time. But with Dora she replies to a query, or does the jig that Dora and her sidekick Boots do at the end of each episode, or dances when the Map opens up. Of course there is no substitute to going outdoors or books but I feel less guilty with Dora around.

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