Are your kiddos running out of shows to watch? Looking for high-quality programming that you can feel good about? Here are 10 recommendations from our library staff for TV shows and programs that not only entertain young children, but also educate too. All programs are available online, with many in our collection, free to borrow with your library card. Don’t have one? Sign up for free online!
1. Sesame Street
“You can't go wrong with a classic. Lots of fun music (many featuring celebrities!) and educational content. This show (along with reading lots of books) helped my daughter learn her alphabet, numbers and shapes. She still loves Cookie Monster!” — Christy Travis, Community Librarian at the Calder Branch
Sesame Street is available on Kanopy Kids.
2. Puffin Rock
“Puffin Rock is an Irish animated kids show about Oona, a young Atlantic puffin and her little brother Baba, as they explore their little island, Puffin Rock. Oona is an excellent role model and the show teaches lessons about responsibility, community and family. It’s also great for adults, featuring beautiful animation and narration by the incomparable Chris O’Dowd. The episodes come as two 15-minute stories, making it great for little viewers who need a break. It’s a quiet show, making it perfect for just before bed or first thing in the morning.” — Alyssa Martin, Library Assistant at the Londonderry Branch
Puffin Rock is available on Netflix.
3. Storytime Station
“My son’s first exposure to screens was EPL’s own Storytime Station. It’s a series of song and rhyme videos that we know from attending Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn classes. His favourites are still Five Fat Peas, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom and Five Little Monkeys and now that he’s a bit older, he can follow along and say the words. I realize it’s not a TV show, but I have to recommend it anyway!” — Lori Blahey, Senior Marketing Consultant in the Marketing and Communications Division
Storytime Station is available on YouTube.
4. The Wiggles
“The Wiggles have lots of catchy and educational songs. They teach a lot about different cultures, musical instruments, dancing, and basic concepts like alphabet, counting, shapes and colours. They even sing about allergies (e.g. peanut butter) and how to properly wash your hands. My son loves the music in this show and he is learning how to hum and sing through listening to the songs.” — Christy Travis, Community Librarian at the Calder Branch
For Preschoolers and Above
5. Dinosaur Train
“We watched Dinosaur Train, which sounds like two things kids like smashed together into a show ("hmmm... we should start a kids show. What do kids like? I dunno... dinosaurs? trains? Yeah, that'll work."). We enjoyed it when my son was about three years old, mostly because he liked dinosaurs and trains! The main character is Buddy, a preschool-aged Tyrannosaurus Rex, who hitches a ride on the Dinosaur Train with his adoptive family to travel back in time and meet different types of dinosaurs.” —Tamara Van Biert, Manager, epl2go and Shelley Milner Children’s Library
Dinosaur Train is available on Kanopy Kids.
6. The Backyardigans
“As a parent, I loved the way they managed to create music that explored a variety of genres in a way that helped expand children's musical horizons — it was always playful, but never pandering and I honestly enjoyed listening to it in the background.” — Benjamin Ehlers, Community Librarian at the Riverbend Branch
7. Sid the Science Kid
"Sid the Science Kid is a preschool television series produced by The Jim Henson Company. The main character in the show is Sid, an 'inquisitive youngster' who uses comedy to tackle questions kids have about basic scientific principals and why things work the way they do." — Tiina Payson, Manager at the Riverbend Branch
"'Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!' Arthur definitely gives me a sense of childhood nostalgia, and episodes of this kid-friendly TV show featuring Arthur and his pals are sure to keep your kids engaged, laughing and even learning a few things about friendship, family and life as a third-grader.” — Angela Lieu, Youth Services Librarian at the Lois Hole Library
9. Wapos Bay
“This is a delightful stop motion animated TV series set in a remote Cree community in northern Saskatchewan. The kids explore their world and learn about important concepts. For example, the first episode is called There’s no “I” in Hockey. The show is funny, approachable, visually rich and even enjoyable for parents! I've played these films for younger school-aged kids in classes at the library and in the community.” — Kate Charuk, Community Librarian at Abbottsfield – Penny McKee Branch
Wapos Bay is available on Kanopy Kids.
10. Magic School Bus
“There is nothing quite like adventures with Ms. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus! Silly, yet captivating, this show is a fun way to learn about diverse topics —particularly around science and technology — for kids of all ages! This show is definitely how I learned that a pickle is actually a cucumber.” — Angela Lieu, Youth Services Librarian at the Lois Hole Library
The Magic School Bus is available on Hoopla.
For preschoolers and above, our staff also love:
- Wild Krattz on Hoopla
- Molly of Denali on PBS Kids
- Nature Cats on Kanopy
- Stella and Sam on CBC Kids
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood on PBS Kids
Want to dance instead?
Noelle Der, Library Assistant at the Calder Branch, recommends Yo Gabba Gabba! The first album is available on Hoopla.
“It’s aimed at preschoolers, but I also enjoyed singing-along with my kiddos. The music on this album is from the TV show and a variety of guest artists including Biz Markie, The Shins and The Roots. The songs are educational and catchy, teaching children about social skills, eating healthy, emotions, and coping. And what better way to get a family dance party started!”
Looking for even more great content to get you and your family through the global pandemic? Check out our other resources for preschoolers, including virtual storytimes, sing-a-longs, digital-only booklists and more.