Between the Lions

TV review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Between the Lions TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Educational TV with heart -- and a slight flaw.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

All types of people, puppets, and characters play and learn together.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, in terms of PBS educational programming, this series exists somewhere between Sesame Street and The Electric Company. The focus is all about words and letter sounds. Parents will appreciate the parodies of adult shows, and kids will like the characters and the stories read during the program. But how much information is too much? This series is rather wonderful in some ways, but it teeters on the edge of being too chaotic to be effective.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLowe's man April 30, 2016

Something good from people who'd previously done something good.

This series combines the best elements from SESAME STREET and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY, and why not? After all, many of the people who worked on this show previous... Continue reading
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byAkhil K. June 21, 2019

I like it!!!!

When you watch Between the Lions, you improve your reading skills and literacy, and you need to learn how to read anything. My kids will become the designated r... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMusiclovergig June 25, 2020

Great one

Haven’t seen it in a hot minute, but I remember it pretty well. It’s like Reading Rainbow but with puppets.
Kid, 12 years old April 7, 2020
Between the Lions is a show for elementary school-aged kids but it's not educational. Especially if you're trying to teach literacy. If you're lo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Compelling characters and serials are what make BETWEEN THE LIONS a fun and fascinating television program. The Lion family, who live and work at the library, are the program's main characters. The mother and father lion provide good parental role models as they care for their clan and read, play, groom, and support their children, Lionel and Leona. A frazzled hen supplies library information, while a talking statue lends his curmudgeonly opinion to two pigeons who can't get their thoughts straight. Parodies of the Dick and Jane books and a short called "Gawain's World" will surely appeal to parents.

Is it any good?

In each episode, a vowel sound group (like the short "a" in the sound group "ack") is emphasized. Words containing the sound group (e.g., "back," "sack," and "crack") flash briefly on the screen, while letters are bumped to form new words as they are spoken. Even the strongest readers have to pay close attention to the quick changes in spelling, so it's unclear how the series' creators fathomed that young readers would be able to get the gist of them. It's almost as though the subliminal benefits of quickly flashing words were deemed more important than taking the time to focus on fewer sounds more thoroughly.

Sesame Street does well in this department by slowly sounding out fewer variations of word choices. Otherwise, the young viewer is apt to become frustrated -- or even confused -- by what's going on in the program. In other words, the intention to educate is clearly behind Between the Lions, but the quantity-not-quality axiom doesn't apply when it comes to teaching young readers about phonetics. Other than this educational qualm, Between the Lions is an entertaining, diverse -- and rather educational -- show for young viewers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the sounds and words introduced in each episode. What other words have the same sound(s) as the ones mentioned on the show? What do you like about the Lion family? Would it be fun to live in a library?

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