Our favorite TV shows for kids and families

TV for kids has never been better. Thanks to a little thing known as the internet and the now abundant number of streaming services, there’s almost nothing that you and your little ones can’t watch together. Whether you’re after educational programming, shows with wacky themes and even more inventive animation, or classic old school cartoons for that welcome hit of nostalgia, there’s so much on offer for kids and families.

Naturally, if your little ones are watching these shows, then you will be too. Thankfully, they’re all so good that you won’t mind, although if you do have tasks to do (or just need a break) you can trust that your kids will remain thoroughly entertained without you having to worry about what they’re watching.

And if you’ve made your way through all this kid-friendly fare, you can check out our definitive list of the 50 greatest animated films to watch as a family, and the 50 best Disney movies of all time. You’ll find these and so much more on our Movies page!

TV shows for kids

Ask the StoryBots

Courtesy: Netflix

1. Ask the StoryBots

Straight talk: StoryBots is one of the best kid’s shows around. The episodes follow Beep, Boop, Bing, Bang and Bo as they set out to answer a question such as: How do eyes work? Why do we recycle? How do you catch a cold? The silly storytelling is goofy and fun, but the answers are serious and scientifically sound—no wonder it won multiple Emmy awards. The cameos are especially delightful for grownups: John Legend, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Wanda Sykes, Snoop Dog. Watch on .

Search and Explore

Courtesy: Age of Learning

2. Search and Explore

Your little one will love the global adventures of ABC Mouse, 123 Mouse and Do-Re-Mi Mouse as they explore and learn about the world . Each 12-minute episode is geared for curious young minds, and short young attention spans. Produced by ABCmouse Early Learning Academy, you can stream the two, eight-episode seasons for free. 

Beat Bugs

Courtesy: Netflix

3. Beat Bugs

Beat Bugs follows the lives of bugs living in a Richard Scarry-like village. What do the bugs do in such a lively place with so much going on? Why, sing songs mainly written by the Beatles, of course. If it sounds silly, it is – and it’s this light-handed setup that lets this thoughtful Emmy-winning series address the life issues that engross young minds. 

PAW Patrol

Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

4. PAW Patrol

Any parent of a young child knows the power of the PAW: This is pawsitively one cartoon canine-loving kiddies cannot miss. While highlighting the power of friendship and hard work, the beloved pups on PAW Patrol collaborate to protect Adventure Bay from all of the issues that arise. Who could possibly resist cute, crime-fighting pups like these?

5. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

This fantastical anime series follows Kipo Oak, a 13-year-old girl forced to run away from the safety of an underground city to navigate the dangers of a dystopian world. The episodes are clever, creative, seriously weird and completely wonderful. If your kid has a taste for out-there sci-fi, this is the show for them. 

Peppa Pig

Photograph: Nick Jr.

6. Peppa Pig

Peppa is some pig! Along with a hit TV show, this anthropomorphic pig also has an album out and even a live show. The success is understandable: little ones love the brief, five-minute episodes of this Nick Jr. series, which follows Peppa and her friends and family. Pair that with the charming colour animations, which look like they could be children’s doodles, as well as those adorable British accents, and who can resist?

Shaun the Sheep

Courtesy Universal Pictures

7. Shaun the Sheep

From the minds that brought you Wallace and Gromit, this series follows an unusually intelligent sheep who lives with his pals at Mossy Bottom Farm. Shaun always manages to find trouble, and get himself out of it in creative and hilarious ways—the claymation doesn’t hurt. 

Sofia the First

8. Sofia the First

If a show about an adorable young princess weren’t enough of a draw, peppering in appearances by the beloved Disney movie royals really sealed the deal for this series. 8-year-old Princess Sofia wins the hearts of youngsters everywhere with her sweetness and sense of adventure, and the well-known voices of Ariel Winter (Modern Family), Wayne Brady and Tim Gunn give the other characters palpable personality.

Hey Arnold!

Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

9. Hey Arnold!

With nods to Brooklyn and Seattle, this ’90s gem follows a young football-headed urbanite, his kooky grandparents, boarding house neighbors and buddies from P.S. 118. The kids’ shenanigans—whether it’s uncovering urban legends, helping neighborhood outcasts or pining over girls in the sixth grade—never seem to lose their charm, and the Nickelodeon classic has certainly withstood the test of time. All young New Yorkers need to experience this show, so set aside time for a Hulu marathon. We promise you won’t be sorry.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Courtesy: Disney

10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

This animated series is must-watch territory for Star Wars fans—which includes just about every kid (and parent), ever. The shows follow the Star Wars saga in microscopic detail—prepare for lots of dinnertime trivia about the whens and wheres of who did what. Note that this epic series was launched in 2008 and ran for seven seasons, wrapping up in 2020 with more than 100 episodes to enjoy. Fans should also check out the new spin-off series Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which premiered in 2021.

Shimmer & Shine

Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

11. Shimmer & Shine

Being twins is totally cool, but imagine being a twin genie?! Now that’s awesome! Shimmer and Shine are trying to make the most out of spells and wish-granting capabilities (with help from their non-genie BFF Leah) but naturally, these budding mythical ladies encounter a few problems along the way. Hey, they are learning the ropes, after all!

Sesame Street

Photograph: Courtesy Sesame Workshop, 2017

12. Sesame Street

Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the rest of the muppet gang have been telling families how to get to Sesame Street for decades and they’re still going strong. The show not only teaches kids how to count and read, but also about friendship, compassion, sharing and how to handle their emotions in different scenarios. And as the show has grown, more diverse characters and family units have made their way onto the cast.

SpongeBob Squarepants

Nickelodeon©2011 Viacom International, Inc.

13. SpongeBob Squarepants

A fantastic Nickelodeon show if ever there was one, SpongeBob Squarepants plunges viewers into the depths of the ocean to the Bikini Bottom, the town that our beloved absorbent, yellow and porous protagonist calls home. You can find the sweet (yet naive) lead leaving his pineapple house to go jelly fishing in the park, assemble a delicious Krabby Patty, spend time with his partner in crime, Patrick Star, and, of course, annoy his curmudgeonly neighbor Squidward Tentacles. Watch out when he gets behind the wheel, though: As Mrs. Puff can attest to, SpongeBob is not the best boat driver.

Phineas and Ferb

14. Phineas and Ferb

There are lots of adventures to be had in this Disney Channel series as Phineas conjures up new hijinks to pursue and brainiac Ferb devises gadgets to make their ideas come to life. Meanwhile, undercover Perry the platypus is busy trying to keep Dr. Doofenshmirtz from carrying out his evil plans. Watch on Disney+.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Photograph: ViacomCBS

15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Cowabunga, dudes! Your favorite heroes in a half-shell have taken various forms throughout the years, becoming live-action movies, a CGI-animated series and, most recently, an anime-inspired cartoon with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While it’s something of a soft-reboot, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello are still tasked with protecting NYC from the bad guys, but this show gives the franchise a renewed, fun energy. Stream on Paramount+.

Blaze and the Monster Machines

Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

16. Blaze and the Monster Machines

Prepare for a STEAM lesson thanks to Blaze and the Monster Machines. In this kids’ cartoon, viewers journey alongside AJ and his bright-red truck, Blaze, as they race cars and help other automobiles with their issues. Of course, fans will have to prepare themselves for the duo to go head-to-head with their rival, Crusher.

Dora the Explorer

Photograph: Courtesy Viacom

17. Dora the Explorer

This interactive show puts kids in charge right alongside Dora. While our beloved protagonist completes her missions and dodges run-ins with Swiper the fox, kiddies are asked to shout and sing along with her (and Boots) until the job is done. Stream on Sling

18. The Adventures of Paddington

Ready the marmalade: Our favorite bear is starting off the new decade with an animated series on Nickelodeon. Voiced by Ben Whishaw, who also plays Paddington in the rather brilliant film series, fans can expect to go on adventures alongside a slightly younger Paddington, who begins and ends each episode by writing letters to his beloved Aunt Lucy. Watch on Nick Jr. 

Bubble Guppies

Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon/Viacom

19. Bubble Guppies

This adorable show features the Guppies, a group of preschool merpeople, who navigate an underwater universe. Each episode involves the guppies work through various issues with help from their school teacher, Mr. Grouper, singing songs about the day’s adventures along the way. Watch on Sling.

Where's Waldo?

Photograph: Courtesy DreamWorks/Universal Kids

20. Where’s Waldo?

Channeling inspiration from the popular seek-and-find ’90s books, Where’s Waldo follows a young boy in a red and white-striped shirt who is always on adventure. With his pal Wenda by his side, Waldo is always game to take on any challenge the international wizard society sends his way. However, the magical, mystical and wicked Odlulu is out to wreak havoc, which certainly keeps these kids on their toes.

21. Vampirina

Fitting in is never easy, especially when you’re a vampire who’s made her way from Transylvania to Pennsylvania with her supernatural family. Talk about a twist on the coming-of-age trope! Will little Vampirina (Vee for short) be able to fit in with the mortals in her new nabe? Stream on Disney+ and Disney Now

22. Wild Kratts

This 30-minute show gives little ones a taste of the world around them. Two brothers and vigilantes, Chris and Martin Kratt, work together to protect animals who are in danger of malicious villains or problems within their habitat. While fun and exciting, the program is also educational—kids get a 101 lesson in zoology and ecology by watching each episode. Stream on PBS Kids

23. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Classic Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy get an upgrade in this bright, computer-animated series. In each episode, young viewers are presented with a challenge, requiring basic problem-solving and sometimes math skills to complete. The upbeat theme and ending songs (performed by They Might Be Giants!) will definitely get kids singing, too. Watch on Disney+

24. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Twilight Sparkle and her magical pony BFFs are schooled on what it takes to be the ultimate friend in a series that adds a bit of whimsy and color to your TV time.

25. Doc McStuffins

Dottie’s dream is to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a doctor. The little lady is already bracing herself for the medical field by caring for her stuffed animals. But, with the help of a magical stethoscope, her beloved toys come to life! Expect to pick up a few tips and tricks for healthy living along the way. Stream on Disney+. .

26. Peg + Cat

In each 12-minute episode of the PBS Kids show Peg + Cat, the duo are faced with a math word problem that they must solve. Every whimsical story incorporates fun songs and encourages preschooler’s interest in basic math as the characters use charts and diagrams to find a solution. Stream on PBS Kids..

27. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Introduce youngsters to Mister Rogers, the cardigan-clad grandfather figure we all know and love. The 30-minute episodes on PBS Kids feature puppets, characters and music, plus take kids on tours of factories, show them experiment demos, offer craft ideas and more—all with Mister Rogers speaking directly to them. Who wouldn’t want to be his neighbor?

28. Arthur

Airing on PBS Kids and based on the book series by Marc Brown, Arthur follows an 8-year-old aardvark named Arthur Read, who learns life lessons while growing up. As Arthur faces challenges such as school bullies and piles of homework he learns to overcome his problems with the help of his family and friends.

29. Hotel Transylvania: The Series

If the kids loved Hotel Transylvania, the 2012 animated film about an ordinary boy who falls in love with Dracula’s daughter, they’ll enjoy this prequel series on the Disney Channel. Dracula’s fun-loving teen daughter, Mavis, takes the reigns at the hotel while her father is off on a business trip, but her plans are derailed when her strict aunt arrives for a visit. Stream the first season on Netflix

 Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure

Photograph: Walt Disney Pictures

30.  Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure

The feisty Disney princess Rapunzel leaps her way onto the television screen with her very own animated series. The golden-haired heroine sets off with her friends in a quest to learn more about who she is and what she can face before truly becoming Princess of Corona. Rapunzel is such a great role model and shows little girls that they can tackle obstacles just as well as any other prince. Watch on Disney+

31. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Taking a page from Mister Rogers’ book, Daniel Tiger puts on his cute little red sweater and beckons kiddos to embark on his adventures in the Neighbourhood of Make-Believe. Watch on PBS Kids

32. Cyberchase

If you have kids already hooked on technology, they’ll probably enjoy this animated trip through cyberspace. When Matt, Jackie and Inez are zapped into another world from their library’s computer, they join Digit and Motherboard in the fight against Hacker and his evil sidekicks. Together, they solve math problems and overcome obstacles. Watch on PBS Kids

33. Blue’s Clues

Steve might have left the picture long ago and replaced with his brother Joe, but Blue the adorable pup is just as curious and playful as ever. Kids will have to chime in with their responses to help Joe figure out what Blue wants to do based on the clues. Blue is definitely a longtime Nick Jr. favorite with the young ones and engages them in fun ways. 

34. Thomas & Friends

Beloved by children for generations, you can’t go wrong with Thomas the Tank Engine and his engine friends from the island of Sodor. Originally filmed with model trains, the series has since been updated with more modern CGI animation, although it’s lost none of its whimsy charm or heartfelt storytelling. Watch classic episodes and newer seasons on Amazon Prime.

35. Team Umizoomi

After a few episodes of Team Umizoomi on Nick Jr., little kids will start zooming through their own homework assignments. The series follows little Milli and Geo and their robot Bot as they solve all kinds of math problems and help the tots of Umi City with counting, shapes and other mathematical fun. Watch on Sling