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The best kids TV shows

Here are the best TV shows for kids: From Ask the StoryBots to Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, we have it all!

Written by
Hannah Doolin
Written by
Danielle Valente
&
Matthew Singer
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The best kids TV shows are never just for kids. As anyone raising a wee one knows, adults have to watch these things, too – or at least half-watch them while taking the opportunity to get some work done. That means that, at least in part, shows meant for children have to meet certain parental criteria, and not just rely on fart noises for entertainment. They need to relay important messages to kids, or inspire creativity — or at least have good jokes.

Each entry on this list of the best children’s shows currently streaming hits those marks. You’ll find cartoon classics and new-school gems, educational programs and totally bugged-out, wildly entertaining shows bound to make everyone in the room’s eyes pop. Check them out, then read our lists of the greatest animated movies and best Disney movies of all-time when you need something to keep the young’uns’ attention for a longer stretch.

Best kids TV shows

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 Netflix. Ages 3-8.

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. Watch on Tubi. Ages 2-8.

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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. Watch on Netflix. Ages 5-7.

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? Watch on Sling. Ages 6 and under.

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Bluey
Disney Junior

5. Bluey

This charming Aussie production, starring a family of anthropomorphic blue heelers, isn’t trying to teach your kids any huge life lessons, except one: no matter how old you get, always make time for play. In each bite-sized episode, Bluey and her younger sister, Bingo, indulge the whims of their imaginations, whether it’s pretending to be old ladies or getting into a dance-off with invisible fairies, and often draw their parents into the fun. It’s unerringly sweet, but also clever enough to wink at the adults watching along — a perfect family show. Watch on Hulu. Ages 5-7.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
Courtesy: Netflix

6. 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. Watch on Netflix. Ages 7 and up.

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Peppa Pig
Photograph: Nick Jr.

7. 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? Watch on Sling. Ages 3 and up.

Shaun the Sheep
Courtesy Universal Pictures

8. 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. Watch on Amazon Prime. Ages 4 and up.

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Sofia the First

9. 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. Watch on Netflix. Ages 2-7.

Hey Arnold!
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

10. 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. Watch on HuluAges 7 and up.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Courtesy: Disney

11. 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. Watch both on Disney+. Ages 8 and up.

Shimmer & Shine
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

12. 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! Watch on Sling. Ages 3 and up.

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Sesame Street
Photograph: Courtesy Sesame Workshop, 2017

13. 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. Watch on PBS Kids. All ages.

SpongeBob Squarepants
Nickelodeon©2011 Viacom International, Inc.

14. 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. Watch on Paramount+. Ages 6 and up.

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Phineas and Ferb

15. 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+. Ages 7 and up.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Photograph: ViacomCBS

16. 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+. Ages 8 and up.

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Blaze and the Monster Machines
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

17. 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. Stream on Sling. Ages 4 and up.

Dora the Explorer
Photograph: Courtesy Viacom

18. 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. Ages 3 and up.

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19. 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. Ages 5 and up.

Bubble Guppies
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon/Viacom

20. 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. Ages 3 and up.

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Where's Waldo?
Photograph: Courtesy DreamWorks/Universal Kids

21. 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. Watch on Peacock. Ages 5 and up.

22. 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. Ages 5 and up.
 

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23. 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. Ages 5 and up.

24. 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+. Ages 2-5.

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25. 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. Stream on Netflix. Ages 5 and up.

26. 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+. Ages 4 and up.

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Rugrats
Nickelodeon

27. Rugrats

Look who’s talking now! Or rather, back in the ’90s. It’s Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica and the rest of the Pickles gang, whose baby-sized adventures thrilled elder millennials – and some Gen X-ers who were probably a bit outside the target demo. Watch on Paramount+. Ages 6-11.

28. 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. Ages 3 and up.

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29. 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? Stream on PBS Kids. Ages 4 and up.

30. 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. Stream on PBS Kids. Ages 5 and up. 

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31. 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. Ages 7 and up.

 Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure
Photograph: Walt Disney Pictures

32.  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+. Ages 5 and up.

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33. 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. Ages 3 and up.

34. 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. Ages 8 and up.

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35. 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. Watch on SlingAges 3 and up.

36. 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 PrimeAges 3 and up.

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37. 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. Ages 3 and up.

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