It's My Life PBS Kids Go!

January 2012 Archives

LEGO Friends: Are these toys built on stereotypes?
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You've probably seen them by now: the TV commercials for "LEGO Friends," a new line of LEGO sets designed specifically for girls. And you've probably noticed that they don't look like the LEGO sets you've been playing with. For one, there's a lot of pink. The figures are less blocky shaped and more...curvaceous, and they have predetermined names like "Olivia" and "Emma." Also, the environments are places like a beauty shop, a beach cafe, and a design studio.

In other words, they're not all that different from popular girl-focused toys like Barbie and Bratz.

lego.jpgSome people think it's cool, that LEGO is selling something for older kids that's not centered around "Star Wars" or superheroes, and that they're finally paying attention to girls after years of marketing only to boys. A lot of people think it's not. As in, the settings are dumbed-down and stereotypically "feminine", like they're telling girls, "Here's all the pink stuff you're supposed to like and we decided a lot of things for you already. Go play!"

Two young women and members of the girl activist group SPARK, Bailey Shoemaker Richards and Stephanie Cole, feel so strongly that LEGO is sending the wrong message to young people that they started a petition on, urging the company to abandon the LEGO Friends line and change the way they market to both boys and girls. 

"The LEGO Friends line struck a nerve with me because it came from an unexpected place," Stephanie has said. "This was a brand that always stood for creativity, and now they are reaching out to girls in the most unoriginal way imaginable."

Here at IML, we'd like to know from you: What do you think? What was your reaction when you saw the LEGO Friends toys? Do you feel LEGO is making assumptions about what girls and boys want to play with, and how they want to play with it? Or are you glad they're creating LEGO sets that are more appealing to girls? Tell us on the What's On Your Mind page.


MLK Day 2012
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Thumbnail image for martin_luther_king_jr.jpgIf you live in the U.S., right now you're enjoying a day off from school. Woo-hoo! Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Actually, we have a lot to thank MLK for. Hopefully you're familiar with this man and his legacy, and why we celebrate both. In honor of Dr. King, we hope you'll spend some time today on these IML You Said It pages and share your thoughts:

Everyone's talking about service. Serve! Serve! Serve! But what does it mean? If you're just 8 or 9 years old, can you really do that? Take a look at how other IML'ers have found ways to reach out and give something back to their communities.

What Freedom Really Means
Freedom doesn't always have to be about the big stuff. Freedom comes in small packages, too. Like being able to choose what music to listen to, or what stores to shop in, or what to wear to school. Check out other people's definition of the word.

I've Experienced Racism
Although we've come a long way since Dr. King's day, and we are so much closer to making his "dream" a reality, racism is still very real. Get a first hand look at how tweens deal with this.

We also hope you'll visit PBS KIDS GO!'s African American World for Kids, where you can match other African American heroes with the events that made them famous, send e-cards, and read comments from other young people.

Celeb Scoop: Bera
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As you probably guessed, here on the IML blog we're always on the lookout for new and interesting music artists that appeal to tweens. You know, performers who might be a little different from what "everyone else" is listening to, or have unusual stories behind their music, or just people who we think might be future stars (so we can say, "Hey, we interviewed them way back when!").

bera.jpgSo here's an extra-special one for you: 16-year--old Bera, who's combined his training as a classical musician with his love of jazz and soul, along with his multicultural roots, to create some beautiful tunes from the heart. And if you're wondering what's up with the white hair, that's his natural color (more on that later). His upcoming EP is called "Late Night Cruise Music."

IML: When did you first start playing music? Do you remember what really grabbed you about it, and how it made you feel?
Bera: I was born into music and started playing when I was just 1 year old. I couldn't walk or talk, but I turned on the radio and started listening. When I was four years old I started playing violin, and two years later I started on piano and drums, so I was always playing music.  Music has always been a big part of me, like my best friend. I never really decided to pursue music as a career; everything happened naturally.  It's the same today; I just do what I love. I never thought about making a song because it would be good for my career, I just followed my passion and thought that if one day it became a job or something I felt I had to do, then I would stop.
IML: You're a Paris native but you also spend time in the Republic of Georgia. How have the different places you've lived influenced your music?
Bera: The places I have lived have definitely influenced my music. First of all, Paris is like the capital of Europe -- with fashion and everything -- and Georgia is much closer to Asia, a very traditional and religious country. So culturally Paris and Georgia are very, very different, and so is their music. Georgian people are very melodic, using a lot of sounds and harmony, so that was my main influence when I first started playing. Then in Paris I had more classical training -- mostly piano and singing -- so that influenced my music and me personally, as well.
IML: Last summer you took part in the Camplified tour. What was that like?
Bera: It was beautiful, my first tour in the States!  I learned a lot about myself and my music, and I think the kids really liked the songs. It could sometimes be a tough crowd, but the kids had good hearts and didn't seem to look at me as a stranger -- it was almost like I became a member of their family for the day.  It was never a huge crowd, so I could always connect with the audience -- they were very receptive and we had a great time!
IML: What are some of the challenges you've had to face in life because as an albino (a person born with no pigmentation, or coloring, in their skin, hair, or eyes), you have different physical traits than most people?
Bera: Personally, I always liked the fact that I was different.  It's good marketing! Of course sometimes people say things like, "Oh, man -- you are so white," but then the girls come over and say, "Can I touch your hair?" Really, the girls always liked it, so it never bothered me!

To learn more about Bera, check out his website at