Ever since the very beginning of children’s programming in television history (so, like, only since the ‘50s), kids have been tuning in to shows that their well-meaning parents had a lot of trouble seeing the appeal of. And although where and how Baby watches TV will be different from your childhood, it’s probably inevitable that she too will end up falling for a show that will look like total gibberish to you. That doesn’t mean she won’t be able to appreciate some of the classics, though.
- Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood might be the kindest and most good-natured show ever to have aired on television, but even more than that, Mister Rogers is an institution. Your parents might even have watched him when they were growing up, as the show ran continuously for almost forty years.
- Reading Rainbow
LeVar Burton just wants Baby to grow up with a healthy intellectual curiosity and love of reading, which is probably something you want, too. Reading Rainbow isn’t just a blast from the past, though – after you’ve introduced Baby to the joys of the original show, she can keep exploring on the Reading Rainbow app!
- Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies
What better way to introduce Baby to the characters she has a good chance of running into during everyone’s favorite version of A Christmas Carol than in a form where the characters are her own age?
- Care Bears
Before there were Teletubbies, before there was Yo Gabba Gabba, all the Care Bears wanted was for tiny tots to be nice to each other and wear pastels. Introducing Baby to the Care Bears is introducing her to a simpler time.
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Environmentalist propaganda? Perhaps, but it’s just so much fun, and it’s a good message. And anyway, how could you object to the idea of five plucky kids from all over the globe teaming up to wear funky jewelry and save the earth? And how many shows can help you instill a love of nature in your kids without ever leaving the comfort of your living room?
- The Magic School Bus
Sure, Netflix is producing a new Magic School Bus series that will be made for Baby’s generation. It may even be good. The question is, will it be as good as the original? The only way to answer that question will be to hunker down with your little one a few years down the road to compare and contrast classic School Bus with the new, shiny version.
Would you deprive your children of the experience of not being able to help picturing a Jack Russell Terrier any time anyone mentions a classic work of literature?
- Bill Nye The Science Guy
Who knows if Bill Nye will still be a staple of every substitute teacher or science class ever by the time Baby reaches school age? More than that, though, it’s never too early to start introducing her to science as something fun that she’s going to enjoy learning.
- The Adventures of Pete and Pete
When but in the ‘90s could a kids’ show whose main gimmick was that the main characters were siblings who had the same first name thrive? Sharing The Adventures of Pete and Pete with Baby is a way to give her a peek into the culture that might have made you who you are.
- Clarissa Explains It All
Introducing your kids to Melissa Joan Hart’s pre-Sabrina big break could teach them a valuable lesson about …’90s technology, having an original fashion sense, and having a best friend who climbs through your window? Okay, so maybe it’s better to hold off on Clarissa for a few years.