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Romina Puga's Newest Show Answers Kids' Burning Questions

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Why do sweets make your stomach hurt? What happened to the dinosaurs? "Club Mundo Kids" has the answers.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CLUB MUNDO KIDS")

ROMINA PUGA: (Speaking Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Host Romina Puga teams up with two puppet friends, Maya and Coco, to help young Spanish-speaking children explore the world around them. "Club Mundo Kids" has just started airing here in the U.S. on Universo on Sundays. And Romina Puga joins us now to talk about it. Welcome.

PUGA: Hi. Thank you for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did the idea for "Club Mundo Kids" come about?

PUGA: Well, the idea originally was to create a children's news show in Spanish. With everything going on last year, it felt really urgent to create this space for this particular audience. Then, as we kind of developed the show, we realized there's just so much more than that. The show's really about sparking curiosity and understanding and promoting empathy. And so it kind of shifted from a more kind of traditional news show to a thematic educational series. You know, one of the things we do is an expert interview that has to do with that theme and giving kids that platform to feel heard, like their questions matter. So we kind of worked on that pilot episode and then went from there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why do you think it was so important to create a children's show based in the U.S. in Spanish?

PUGA: Well, what we really want to do is create that bridge between these two languages and these two or three identities that this audience has. You know, me, myself - I was born in Miami, but my father's from Chile. My mother's from Argentina. I, like most of these kids, speak Spanish at home. Then at school, you enter this other world and this other identity. And these years, this - you know, our audience is between 4 and 8 years old - you start to realize, well, I don't quite feel like one or the other. "Club Mundo Kids" - our goal is to make it that place for kids where they don't have to pick one identity or the other. It's all about embracing the differences and embracing what makes them special and celebrating those two cultures you identify with or three if your parents are from different cultures.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, one of the things that I think really works is that it seems very authentic. You use different dialects. I mean, you use different words for corn, for example - choclo, maiz, elote. You know, those are different words in different parts of Latin America that you would use for one thing.

PUGA: Yeah, one of our episodes is about nutrition. And I say my favorite food is corn, which is called maiz in Spanish. But where I come from, I grew up calling it choclo. In Chile, Argentina, in Peru, they call it choclo. In other countries, they call it elote. And then I ask the audience, you know, how do you guys say it? And that is all kind of tying in this idea that these kids may have schoolmates who speak Spanish, but it doesn't sound like theirs, and they may be wondering why. Why do they use different words? That - is it weird? And what we want to do is highlight those differences and say, you know, isn't this awesome? Like, let's celebrate these differences. Let's learn about how our cultures are similar and different.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's the funnest part of this for you?

PUGA: All of it. This is - for me, this is a dream job. I - every aspect of the show is built for this audience. I mean, we ask kids for questions for the expert segment. And one kid was sending me questions about energy but asked, (speaking Spanish) - so why do leaves fall from trees? And we realized all these kids had these questions about leaves. So we did a whole episode just on the importance of trees. And so everything is built with them in mind. And even the set is supposed to look like something that you can go create in your backyard. We hope that, you know, when you turn off your screen, you want to go build your own "Club Mundo Kids" at home.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Romina Puga is the host of "Club Mundo Kids." Muchisima gracias.

PUGA: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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