Children’s TV shows kind of went off the deep end for a while. When my first child was born, we didn’t have cable TV. That meant that local channels like PBS kids were the extent of her TV programs; lots of Sagwa, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Liberty’s Kids. By my third child, we decided to splurge on cable television and were surprised to learn how different the content was from our humble local programming.

The best children's TV shows for kids and parents alike

Parents, I’m sure you know the struggles of passively watching children’s shows all day every day and even getting their songs stuck in your head! It. Is. Maddening. Especially when they are meaningless and repetitive little songs – I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about. The point is, there are plenty of meaningful children’s TV shows out there that your kids will have fun watching, and that we as parents can feel good about. With that said, there are now more streaming services out there than there are channels! Don’t worry, you don’t have to channel (or platform) hop to find the best children’s TV shows — we’ve compiled a list of our favorites for every age group!

Best Children’s TV Shows

Ages 2-4:

  • Storybots Super Songs: A song-centric show where robots answer questions asked by kids
    • Why we love it: This playful children’s show answers real questions from kids on a variety of different topics in an age-appropriate way — including songs they’ll love that won’t drive you crazy! They make understanding real world issues, such as how people get sick, fun, engaging, and easy!
    • Where to watch: Netflix
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: This tiger TV show is the new animated version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, made just for our little learners. Though the format is a little different than what we grew up with, the episodes mimic Mister Rogers’ gentle and empathetic approach, with an emphasis on validating children’s emotions — all of them.
    • Why we love it: Mister Rogers’ legacy for helping children to embrace, understand, and validate emotions lives on in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Every episode is unique, heart warming, and helps children tackle tough topics to handle emotions in a fun way.
    • Where to watch: PBS Kids
  • Motown Magic: This creative and colorful cartoon remakes classic Motown songs into stories of a young boy who uses a magic paintbrush to bring street art to life.
    • Why we love it: This show has such a creative storyline implanted with lessons about community, self esteem, helping others, and so much more. It features a black lead character in a multicultural urban environment that comes to life with the wave of a magic paint brush.
    • Where to watch: Netflix

Ages 5-7:

  • Archibald’s Next Big Thing: Archibald, a skinny chicken with a big imagination, sets off on crazy adventures with his siblings and best friends!
    • Why we love it: Archibald is a funny and curious little chicken (with a voice actor you may recognize) that approaches every adventure with excitement and enthusiasm! No matter what happens on his quests, he finds creative and imaginative solutions with the help of his friends. This show is creative and silly, yet inspiring and wholesome! Plus, it won’t drive you bonkers with singing!
    • Where to watch: Netflix
  • DIY: In each bite-sized mini-sode, four friends with a love of exploration and experimentation discover new things and find creative solutions using STEM.
    • Why we love it: Every short episode is filled with quirky humor, beautiful animation, and a can-do attitude. It helps children to approach STEM subjects with enthusiasm and confidence.
    • Where to watch: Cartoon Network
  • Mira, Royal Detective: A young Indian girl helps to serve her community and crack cases as the royal detective! Every episode is an action-packed adventure that touches many different aspects of Indian culture and gets children excited to learn more about other cultures.
    • Why we love it: Mira loves her family, friends, classmates, and everyone in her community and is always up to the challenge when it comes to solving cases! This show teaches children all about Indian culture with vibrant colors, songs, and exciting animation, while instilling values like community, problem solving, and curiosity.
    • Where to watch: Disney Junior

Ages 8-9:

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: This is a family favorite in our household! Avatar: The Last Airbender, though action packed, is a mystical story that covers a number of sophisticated themes in a mesmerizing, humbling, and approachable way. A young boy travels across the world with his friends on a quest to bring peace to the world as the next Avatar.
    • Why we love it: This series covers a number of different lessons, including war, imprisonment, female empowerment, confidence, acceptance, learning from your past, respecting elders, and so much more. The bond and development of each character depicts what it is really like to grow up — to argue, make mistakes, take risks, and turn to wise adults for guidance and advice. It is a show that my children loved at ages 8-9 and that we still rewatch together.
    • Where to watch: Netflix
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Kipo, a young human girl trying to find home, lives in a world where mutant animals dominate the surface and most humans live underground. Kipo and her newly found friends are fearless as they make their way through their whimsical world.
    • Why we love it: The storyline is so imaginative and fun. The characters are brave, resilient, and creative and they each leverage their unique skills to navigate through their world. It teaches resiliency, trust, and hope in a way that children and adults will love to watch.
    • Where to watch: Netflix
  • Craig of the Creek: Every day, Craig and his “creek kids” go down to the creek to play and transform their neighborhood woods into a mystical land of adventure.
    • Why we love it: This show is silly, fun, and filled with nature scenes! It teaches children to make the most out of their surroundings and to use their imaginations to turn any landscape into a wonderland. It celebrates the joys of childhood, embraces individuality, and encourages self discovery through imaginative play.
    • Where to watch: Cartoon Network
The best children's TV shows for kids and parents alike

Children’s TV shows do not have to be one-note. There are so many different animation styles, unique characters, and imaginative worlds for children to explore without having mom and dad worry. Though these are what we consider the best children’s TV shows, you can always get a second opinion and explore more options with Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that evaluates and ranks children’s media and lets parents and kids weigh in too. Screen time is here to stay, so make the most out of it by choosing TV programs that support the emotional well-being of your child while providing quality, fun-filled, and educational entertainment! To help your child turn their world into a “top secret” mission, try Mission I’m Possible. This program is designed to help children understand and master their emotions through the most powerful tool of all, play.