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The Best Reading Shows For Kids

Updated September 1, 2020 387 votes 42 voters 2.5k views19 items

List RulesVote up the children's television programs that are best at teaching reading & literacy skills.

Aside from being a great place to waste a whole day by binge-watching a series that features teenagers in a post-apocalyptic world, television does have its educational uses. Though it may not get a lot of credit as a learning tool, the fact is, most of you who are reading this right now are able to do so because TV taught us how to, or helped us perfect the skill. Whether we learned the alphabet from cartoons or followed along with Reading Rainbow religiously, the best reading children's shows were entertaining as well as educational.

These reading shows for kids almost always used humor and interactive content to connect with young viewers and engage them in ways that books or lessons couldn't. The fact is, if kids are tricked into learning by someone fun like the monsters on Sesame Street, they're a heck of a lot more likely to learn.

Whether you're trying to get your own kid into reading or you simply want to reminisce about the days spent on the floor in front of your TV learning with your favorite television host, we're here to rank the top reading kids shows from A to Z - or more accurately, from best to not-so-best.

  • Original release: 1983-2006

    Reading Rainbow is an American children's television series that aired on PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go! from June 6, 1983, until November 10, 2006, that encouraged children to read. In 2012 an iPad and Kindle Fire educational interactive book reading and video field trip application was launched bearing the name of the program. The public television series garnered over 200 broadcast awards, including a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, 11 of which were in the "Outstanding Children's Series" category. The series was created under the leadership of Cecily Truett Lancit and Larry Lancit, at Lancit Media Productions in New York. The concept of a reading series for children originated with Twila... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: LeVar Burton, Jennifer Betit Yen, Arnold Stang
    Is this show fun AND educational?

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  • WordGirl is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Reading Shows For Kids
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use

    Original release: 2007-2015

    WordGirl is an American children’s animated television series produced by the Soup2Nuts animation unit of Scholastic Entertainment for PBS Kids. The show began as a series of shorts entitled The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl that premiered on PBS Kids Go! on November 10, 2006, usually shown at the end of Maya & Miguel; the segment was then spun off into a new thirty-minute episodic series that premiered on September 3, 2007 on most PBS member stations. All four full-episode seasons each have twenty-six episodes, while the preceding series of shorts had thirty. By late 2014, most PBS stations from coast to coast had stopped airing WordGirl. New episodes appear only on the PBS Kids... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Dannah Feinglass Phirman, Ryan Raddatz, Maria Bamford
    Is this show fun AND educational?
  • Sesame Street is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Reading Shows For Kids
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Original release: 1969-Present

    Sesame Street is a long-running American children's television series created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its educational content, and images communicated through the use of Jim Henson's Muppets, animation, short films, humor, and cultural references. The series premiered on November 10, 1969 to positive reviews, some controversy, and high ratings. The show has undergone significant changes throughout its history. The format of Sesame Street consists of a combination of commercial television production elements and techniques which have evolved to reflect the changes in American culture and the audience's viewing habits. With the creation of Sesame... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney
    Is this show fun AND educational?

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  • 4

    The Electric Company

    Original release: 1971-1977

    The Electric Company is an educational American children's television series that was directed by Bob Schwartz, Henry Behar and John Tracy, written by Christopher Cerf, Jeremy Steven and John Boni/Amy Ephron and produced by the Children's Television Workshop for PBS in the United States. PBS broadcast 780 episodes over the course of its six seasons from October 25, 1971, to April 15, 1977. After it ceased production in 1977, the program continued in reruns until 1985, as the result of a decision made in 1975 to produce two final seasons for perpetual use. The Workshop produced the show at Second Stage, located within the Reeves Teletape Studios, in Manhattan, the first home of Sesame... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Morgan Freeman, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder
    Is this show fun AND educational?


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