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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that if ever there was a worthwhile TV series for tweens, Liberty's Kids is it. The fact that each episode is a self-contained lesson in American history does nothing to diminish its entertainment value. James, Sarah, and Henri are typical kids with a natural curiosity about what’s going on around them, so their young viewers get to see important historical events like the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill from their perspective. Because the show strives to adhere to historical fact, many storylines include violence and death (and in at least one case, execution), so it’s not appropriate for little kids, but it’s an enjoyable series that offers tweens an impressive amount of substance.
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What's the story?
LIBERTY’S KIDS is a historical fiction cartoon that centers on three kids immersed in the events leading up to America’s independence. Orphaned as a baby, James (voiced by Chris Lundquist) finds a hero in Benjamin Franklin (Walter Kronkite) and devotes himself to his work as an apprentice in Franklin’s print shop to disperse information about the colonies’ revolt against Britain. James’s friend Sarah (Reo Jones) is an English guest of Franklin’s, and despite James’s dedication to the cause, she’s not sure whether she supports it. Joined by a young French immigrant named Henri (Kathleen Barr), the teens travel throughout the colonies, following the political and military engagements that eventually give way to America’s breach from English rule.
Is it any good?
History has never been as enticing as when it’s told through the eyes of someone kids can relate to, and the young heroes in this series are just right for the job. The diversity that exists among them and the people they meet -- including their friend Moses (D. Kevin Williams), a self-emancipated slave -- reflects the unique multicultural appearance of America at its inception.
The kids’ journeys bring them face to face with historical heroes and epic moments in the country’s history, and tweens can tag along for a firsthand look at how things went down. Liberty's Kids boasts an incredible voice cast with the likes of Billy Crystal, Sylvester Stallone, and Annette Bening lending their talents to a few of the rotating historical figures. For tweens, this series is a wonderful complement to their traditional history studies, but because it includes war scenes and in some cases deals with death, it’s not a great choice for younger kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Liberty's Kids presents historical events. Do you think the stories adhere to facts? Did you notice any discrepancies between your knowledge of the events and what's in the show? What attempts does the show make to incorporate America’s diverse heritage?
Tweens: Does this show change how you feel about American history? How is our view of history skewed by the media through which we receive the information? What time periods in history most interest you? Why?
Is it possible for TV to be truly educational? Is this series a good example of educational media? What other shows have you seen that have taught you something? How are different branches of the media used as teaching tools?
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