Martha Speaks Reading Buddies Newsletter
June Header

The MARTHA SPEAKS Reading Buddies Newsletter bids you farewell for the summer by highlighting great resources to help combat the “summer slide,” introducing the MARTHA SPEAKS Read-Aloud Book Club, sharing official research results that reflect Martha’s positive, educational impact on children, and offering a sneak peak at new episodes premiering later this month. In this issue you will find:

In the Spotlight: “Summer Slide” Reading Initiatives
Classroom Tips: The MARTHA SPEAKS Read-Aloud Book Club
Pup Tales: MARTHA SPEAKS Research Results
More Fun with Martha: New Episodes and Vacation Vocabulary
Links & Books: Useful Web Sites and Recommended Reading

Spotlight Header


"Summer Slide" Reading Initiatives

We all look forward to the rest and relaxation of summer and, of course, it is important to take a break. But hot, lazy summer days with nothing to do may not be the best thing for our students. During the summer months, many children who do not participate in educational enrichment activities can experience learning losses, often referred to as the “summer slide.”

In 1996, researchers conducted a synthesis of 39 studies examining the effects of summer vacation on standardized achievement test scores*. This meta-analysis indicated that summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores. In other words, on average, children’s tests scores were at least one month lower when they returned to school in fall than scores were when students left in spring. Children clearly need ongoing opportunities to help them maintain and improve important skills such as reading and math. Fortunately, MARTHA SPEAKS can help families combat the summer slide.

MARTHA SPEAKS and PBS KIDS have partnered with iVillage and Jet Blue to help kids bridge the summer learning gap. Beginning in May, PBS KIDS will feature reading-related episodes from a variety of PBS KIDS series, including MARTHA SPEAKS (check your local listings or click here for details). The iVillage PBS KIDS Summer Reading Community Challenge will feature free literacy-building resources for parents and children designed by the experts at PBS Parents and PBS KIDS. Soar with Reading, a joint project of PBS KIDS and JetBlue, kicks off this month and encourages kids’ imaginations to take flight through reading.

In addition to PBS KIDS’s Summer Reading Initiative, Kids Media Matters, an online resource that helps families make smart choices about media at home, is featuring profiles of several outstanding summer reading programs including SUPER WHY Reading Camps for 4- to 5-year olds; ReadBoston’s Summer Books Program for elementary school children; and the Great Books Summer Program for middle and high school students. The MARTHA SPEAKS Read-Aloud Book Club (featured below) is another great way to keep kids reading and excited about books throughout the summer months. And of course, from the new mobile optimized MARTHA SPEAKS website to the Dog Party iPhone app, there are myriad online resources to keep kids learning all summer long.

*(Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S. The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-analytic Review. Review of Educational Research, 66(3), 227–268. EJ 596 384. )


Classroom Tips Header

The MARTHA SPEAKS Read-Aloud Book Club

During the summer months, bring the excitement of MARTHA SPEAKS into your community library! The MARTHA SPEAKS Read-Aloud Book Club creates a fun environment for young kids to read and talk about books and to learn about the many positive roles dogs play in our lives.

How Does the Read-Aloud Book Club Work?
There are ten, one-hour read-aloud sessions in the Book Club, which are similar in format to a library story hour. During each session, children watch a MARTHA SPEAKS episode, listen to a dog-themed book read aloud, engage in conversation, and participate in a creative activity. Then children are encouraged to take library books home to continue reading and learning about dogs.

Two community events enable librarians to share the excitement and fun of the MARTHA SPEAKS Read-Aloud Book Club with a larger group. These events can be held in conjunction with the Book Club (for example, as a celebration at its completion), or as stand-alone events. We suggest screening an episode of MARTHA SPEAKS and inviting a special guest (like a local vet, humane society, or therapy dog team) to each event. You may want to partner with your local PBS station.

Where can I find materials for the Read-Aloud Book Club?
Like the Reading Buddies Program, all of the resources you need to do the Read-Aloud Book Club are available online. The website is formatted similarly to the Reading Buddies Program and includes session guides and activities, links to the episodes (available streaming from Martha Speaks website or for purchase on iTunes), and additional resources.

Questions about the Read-Aloud Book Club? Send us an email at


Pup Tales Header


MARTHA SPEAKS Research Results

Martha is barking about results from three recent independent studies that highlight the impressive impact the show has on young children’s vocabulary development, as well as its strength as an early-intervention tool across broadcast and mobile platforms. These studies measured not only the impact on children who viewed episodes of the show, but also the impact on children using the Martha Speaks Dog Party iPhone app.

Below are a few notable takeaways from the studies that will reinforce your decision to use Martha in your classroom!

  • • On average, children who watched MARTHA SPEAKS had a significantly greater increase in vocabulary knowledge compared to children who did not watch the show.
  • • MARTHA SPEAKS is an effective tool in helping bridge the vocabulary gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers.
  • • MARTHA SPEAKS facilitates inexpensive language opportunities at home.
  • • Children 3-to-7 years old who played with the MARTHA SPEAKS Dog Party app tested up to 31 percent higher in vocabulary.
  • • Children were able to retain the increased vocabulary, and showed even greater gains on targeted words weeks after the study ended.

To read the full research report click here.

More Fun Header


Sit. Stay. Watch!
Martha’s Slumber Party of the Weird, a two-part episode, airs Monday, June 27, 2011 and features science fiction stories from Martha and Alice, highlighting vocabulary words like scientist, data, unpredictable, and magnify.

Vacation Vocabulary
Encourage parents and caregivers to talk with their children during summer trips or while running errands. In the car or on a bus, they can talk about the road, the route, and the things they see out the window using vocabulary words like around, behind, or direction.

Links and Books Header

Recommended Links

Kids Media Matters

Learn the truth about kids and media, and find tips, tools, and resources to help families make smart choices about media at home with WGBH's free Kids Media Matters kit.

At Yale Law School, Therapy Dogs Provide Stress-Relief
Read about the unique new population that therapy dogs are assisting—law students!

Recommended Reading

Play Ball! by Susan Meddaugh. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
With the help of her human and doggy friends, Martha coaches Truman to catch a ball without fear. This book includes a matching vocabulary game and fill-in-the-blank word activity. (Check out more MARTHA SPEAKS TV tie-in books at

"Keeping Kids Off the Summer Slide" by
More information and resources to keep kids reading over the summer months.

Unleash the Power of Words Header

Beguiled by vocabulary? Inquisitive about MARTHA SPEAKS? Have a stupendous suggestion for the newsletter? We want your feedback! Email us at

Click here to sign up for the monthly MARTHA SPEAKS Reading Buddies Newsletter. To unsubscribe, click here.

Join Martha on Facebook and Twitter. Find MARTHA SPEAKS shows on iTunes. Find MARTHA SPEAKS classic books, TV tie-in books, and DVDs at ShopPBS, and at your local bookstore and library. To build your collection of classic books, TV tie-in books and to find other Martha Speaks products, visit

Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Shop PBS logo


Corporate funding for MARTHA SPEAKS is provided by Chuck E. Cheese’s®, Kiddie Academy® Child Care Learning Centers, and Chick-fil-A, Inc. Additional funding provided by Jennifer and Steven Walske and by public television viewers. Additional series funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Grant. ©2011 WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved. "Martha" and all characters and underlying materials (including artwork) from the "Martha" books are trademarks and copyrights of Susan Meddaugh and used under license. All other characters and underlying materials are trademarks of and copyrights of WGBH. All third party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Used with permission.

reading Buddies footer close
powered by CONVIO
nonprofit software