Something that I care immensely about in mass media is children’s television. I believe that I was lucky enough to grow up in a Golden Age of children’s entertainment, AKA the late 1990s and early 2000s.
PBS Kids revolutionized the concept of educational kids’ television through the return of ZOOM and the birth of shows like Arthur, Zoboomafoo, and Cyberchase. My love of reading was only fueled by the intellectual title star of Wishbone, and I was introduced to invaluable character traits through Sesame Street and Adventures from the Book of Virtues.
My parents didn’t really let us explore channels beyond 21 until 2002-ish, so I entered the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon game a little late. I do have memories of their programming from these days (Bug Juice and Legends of the Hidden Temple reurns!), but when it comes to my televisual past, PBS was where it was at. What with the recent news of the iconic Reading Rainbow possibly returning, I’ve grown incredibly nostalgic about these old PBS shows. So, today, I wanted to share some lessons I learned from certain programs and random memories I have about others.
1. Arthur – Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card. Also, your relationships with your friends and family can teach you so much about how to live. Never judge someone by a first impression. Don’t be afraid to talk with a loved one about something bothering you. The joint efforts of a community can really change the world. I feel like I could list off even more lessons, having so many years of memories of this show, but these are probably the most recurring and useful morals.
2. Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series – If you like a TV show that’s based on a book, chances are that you’ll love the original material. This animated, slightly alternate-universe version of Anne of Green Gables was my first exposure to the story, besides the occasional viewings of the mini-series back when PBS used to air it regularly. I then read an adapted, kids’ version of the book around age eight or nine. All of these early encounters persuaded me to start the legit, proper book…and I fell in love. This book series means so much to me and I may not have discovered it as early as I did if I hadn’t seen the TV show.
3. Adventures from the Book of Virtues – The lessons acquired from watching this show are quite obvious, as the whole point is to educate the two young characters about valuable qualities to maintain in their lives. But what I took away from this series was that books and fables have an undeniably large amount of knowledge for readers’ own lives – so, essentially, never deny the written word. Several episodes are currently on YouTube; I recommend watching this one, about Gratitude, as its stories have stuck out in my mind the most.
4. Between the Lions – I was going into kindergarten when Between the Lions began, so I guess I enjoyed that the reading skills I was learning in school were also taught through this show’s segments. It was just such a fun program for young readers and promoted the joys of reading, which is a quality I obviously loved in children’s television. Plus, I think I was just really jealous of the family of lions because they owned a library and slept on its roof in hammocks.
5. Liberty’s Kids – I’ve always been into history, and other media that encouraged this love when I was a kid were books like the American Girl series. Liberty’s Kids, however, won over my heart for showing regular kids – albeit, ones who lived in the eighteenth century – witnessing some of American history’s greatest events. Looking back on this show and its list of cast members, an impressive resume of celebrities actually voiced many of the historical characters. Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Walter Cronkite, and Whoopi Goldberg were only some of the big-time stars who brought a famous figure to life on this program.
6. Postcards from Buster – Buster was essentially a travel vlogger before YouTube’s heyday. His spinoff show was one of the many factors that unconsciously played into my love for exploring new places and learning about the other kinds of lives out there.
There are many other old PBS shows out there that I treasured, but the ones mentioned are those dearest to my heart. I don’t have enough experience with current kids’ programming to comment about it, but I know that I’d love to have the opportunity to work with PBS Kids or the Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop) in the future. Providing an educational and enjoyable outlet to kids that also integrates the importance of reading is just so vital. For any other PBS Kids fans out there, I recommend reading this BuzzFeed list.
What about you? Were you a PBS or Nickelodeon kid? What childhood shows were your favorite?