20 Best Kids’ Shows to Watch Right Now
Parents, you'll actually like these kids' shows.
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Kid tested, grown-up approved
Kids’ shows aren’t exactly known for appealing to the grown-up set. Some focus pretty heavily on teaching lessons adults have long since learned. Others seem purely built around selling merchandise attached to their characters instead of presenting quality television. It puts parents in a tough spot when they’re trying to enjoy some couch time with their kiddo while keeping an eye on the entertainment the little ones are consuming.
Fortunately, kids’ television has come a long way. Sure, there are still some mind-numbingly dull programs on the air. But there are also smart, funny, and heartwarming series that you’ll find yourself quoting long after your children have grown up. On our list: classic TV shows, sitcoms, modern favorites, programs based on the best children’s books, and, of course, cartoon shows.
To come up with this list of the 20 best kids’ shows, we took a gander at those that have been Emmy winners and contenders. And we went straight to the source, asking parents what they and their children love to watch—and why. Read on for a diverse list of TV series for you and your children to consider the next time you want to tune in to something stellar.
This Australian import is hands-down one of the smartest, sweetest, and funniest animated shows around. U.S. viewers currently have the first two seasons of Bluey to enjoy, with a third on the way. The series follows the Heeler family—sisters Bluey and Bingo, plus parents Bandit and Chilli—which finds itself in all sorts of relatable situations. As their surname suggests, they are heelers (Australian cattle dogs), and they solve any problems with a whole lot of heart. This outstanding program has critics on board, too, winning the Kids: Preschool award at the 2019 International Emmy Awards. Pro tip: Bluey toys make some of the best gifts for kids.
City of Ghosts (2021)
Don’t let the title fool you—this isn’t a scary show by any means. It is, however, one of the best shows on Netflix for kids. In City of Ghosts, a group of curious kids finds itself adventuring around Los Angeles. The kids interview ghosts to learn about the city’s history and solve problems. The historical aspect is pretty cool and will teach little ones that L.A. has more to offer than movie stars. We’d love to see the Ghost Club explore another city in a second season.
Sesame Street (1969–present)
You can’t beat the classics! Sesame Street is still going strong after more than 50 years on the air. Watching the show in its current format, you’ll get reacquainted with all of your pals from childhood—and meet a few new ones too. The way the show educates and keeps up with the times is really impressive, teaching basic preschool lessons as well as social-emotional topics. If you haven’t seen Sesame Street since you were a child, a single episode is all it’ll take to remind you why it’s considered one of the all-time best TV shows for kids.
Star Trek: Prodigy (2021)
A new kid on the children’s television block, Star Trek: Prodigy is an animated take on the popular sci-fi franchise. In this series, a gaggle of teens stumbles upon an abandoned Starfleet ship. They plan to use it as an escape mechanism to leave the planet Tars Lamora, but the show’s villains will do anything to stop them. Whether you’re a Trekkie, Trekker, or completely new to the space-themed franchise, you’ll appreciate this smart, fantastical series. Pair your TV binge with the best sci-fi books ever written.
Danger Force (2020–present)
A spin-off of Nickelodeon’s popular live-action series Henry Danger, Danger Force follows four newbie kid superheroes as they attempt to save the fictitious town of Swellview from ne’er-do-wells. At first glance, the show might look like silly tween fare, but watch a few episodes and you’ll start to appreciate its snarky humor. Believe us when we say you’ll find yourself chuckling far more than you ever expected. It almost reminds us of some of the best ’80s shows.
Weird but True! (2016–2020)
Who doesn’t love a fun fact? National Geographic‘s Weird but True! zeroes in on some pretty oddball stuff, explaining it in such a way that the subject remains interesting and appeals to kids. The hosts have explored everything from carnivorous plants to the coral reef. In 2019, it won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Educational or Informational Series. If one episode’s topic doesn’t tickle your kids’ fancy, there are plenty of others to choose from, all of which are sure to make them think. For the adults in the house, bookmark this list of documentaries based on bizarre true stories.
Ada Twist, Scientist (2021)
Based on the best-selling children’s books of the same name, this series that has Ada Twist and her fellow “questioneers” asking all kinds of interesting questions. Scientist Ada Twist and the crew jump off the page and onto the screen, and more importantly, they will not stop until they uncover the truth. Kids’ shows like this one are great for getting kids thinking about science topics in a fun and captivating way. While the best shows about doctors may inspire Hollywood dreams, this kids’ show might inspire your little one to become a doctor.
Top Chef Jr. (2017–2018)
It’s the pint-sized version of one of the best reality TV shows. Watch a group of talented kid chefs from across the country compete in various challenges for the coveted title. It may motivate your own offspring to get creative in the kitchen. (Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else prepared dinner for a change?) Inspiring and suspenseful, this series proves kids can be culinary stars too.
American Ninja Warrior Jr. (2018–present)
This one is for all of the junior athletes out there. A kid spin on the popular American Ninja Warrior competition, this series sees children competing in various challenges and obstacle courses in an attempt to win big in the finale. It’s proof you can do anything you set your mind to, and these contestants are incredibly inspiring. We’re big fans of anything that encourages exercise, movement, and strategy. If your kids like action movies, they’ll love this fast-paced series.
Dino Dana (2017–2020)
For years, Dino Dan had all the fun on his Nickelodeon TV show, exploring the world of dinosaurs from a boy’s perspective. Now it’s Dana’s turn to learn more about her favorite topic, which happens to be of the Jurassic variety. Gifted with a dino field guide, she sets out to learn more about the creatures and even finds herself immersed in their world. A must-watch for any dino fanatic, this was nominated for Outstanding Preschool Children’s Series at the 2018 Daytime Emmys, which helps land it on our list of best kids’ shows. When your children get old enough, host a family movie night with a dinosaur theme, featuring one of the best movies of all time: Jurassic Park.
Elinor Wonders Why (2020–present)
If your little ones have a habit of asking “why?” then this is the show for them. A bunny named Elinor recruits her animal pals to uncover the why behind just about everything. She wants to know how Velcro works and the science behind keeping warm, just to name a couple of her questions. Inquisitive little minds will enjoy this heartwarming series, which airs on PBS.
The Mysterious Benedict Society (2021)
Kids who have moved past cartoons and are all about live-action shows will go all in on this Disney+ series, based on the mystery book series of the same name. The Mysterious Benedict Society follows a group of very different kids who think they’ve been accepted to a highly prestigious school. The full first season of the show is currently streaming, and there’s a second in the works. It’s set to begin production early next year.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (2012–present)
Inspired by characters in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood explores all of the social-emotional concepts taught to previous generations in the original series. Daniel learns things like the importance of being patient, managing emotions, and how to adjust to a new baby in the house. It has all of the heart of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, with snippets of kids learning more about the subjects in real life.
The Loud House (2015–present)
It’s all chaos, all the time, in Lincoln Loud’s house. The only boy among ten siblings, Lincoln spends each episode trying to survive the oversized brood. The cartoon has been such a success that Nickelodeon released two movie adaptations of it in 2021: an animated flick featuring David Tennant and a live-action holiday special. The Loud House series is great for kids who are used to dealing with a big family or those who wonder what it’s like to have that many siblings.
Peppa Pig (2004–present)
Peppa Pig has been around for quite some time, and for good reason. The animated series is pretty darn funny. Sure, Peppa’s penchant for muddy puddles can be problematic for parents with kids who want to emulate her free-spirited ways, but otherwise, the cast of characters and inside jokes will make everyone a fan. Imported from Britain, Peppa is even getting her own theme park in Orlando, Florida. Want more laughs? Press play on one of these funny movies tonight.
Alma’s Way (2021)
Learn all about different cultures courtesy of Alma, a six-year-old girl living in the Bronx with her family and celebrating her Puerto Rican heritage. There’s a diverse cast of characters in this sweet show about enjoying and sharing our differences with one another. It’s a new show to PBS, and each half-hour episode contains two mini stories apiece.
SpongeBob SquarePants (1999–present)
Not only is SpongeBob SquarePants one of the longest-running kids’ shows around, but some fans might argue that it’s one of the best television shows ever created. Kids love it. Grown-ups love it. Rarely can you find a series that has such mass appeal. Some of the storylines are pretty darn weird, but it’s impossible not to root for SpongeBob, Patrick, and sweet little pet snail Gary. Though it has never snagged the coveted award, the show has been nominated for ten Emmys over the years. Once you run out of episodes, it’s time for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, a classic family movie you’ll all giggle over.
Masha and the Bear (2009–2019)
Consider them the modern-day odd couple of the animated world. Masha and the Bear is about friendship at its core. A retired circus bear thinks he’s hanging up his hat for a relaxing life in the forest when he’s discovered by the always-energetic Masha. They don’t always see eye to eye, but Masha and Bear certainly always have each other’s best interests at heart. The series has been around for a while and is still just as popular as ever because of its timeless themes.
Blue’s Clues & You (2019–present)
Adorable puppy Blue has been part of the Nickelodeon family for years, starring in Blue’s Clues from 1996 to 2020. The pup is back on the small screen with a new friend, Josh, in the latest iteration: Blue’s Clues & You. The show continues to teach kids about problem-solving, encouraging them to piece together the clues left by Blue in an effort to come to a conclusion by the episode’s end. Josh may be a new face, but former hosts Steve and Joe drop in every now and then for special guest appearances. Love following clues but wish the mystery was a little more grown-up? Tune in to one of the best crime shows once the little ones head to bed.
Young Dylan (2020–present)
Created by Tyler Perry, Young Dylan will sound familiar to fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A tween boy is sent by his grandmother to live with his wealthy uncle’s family. Comedy and chaos ensue. The jokes are funny, the story is familiar in a nostalgic kind of way, and the characters are endearing. It’s the kind of fish-out-of-water story your kids will love and you’ll enjoy too. Adults will enjoy this funny series, though they may appreciate more adult programming—like these Netflix Korean dramas—when the kids are asleep.