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The Best Reading Shows For Kids

Updated September 1, 2020 519 votes 56 voters 4.2k 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.

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  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
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    Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

    Original release: 2012-Present

    Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is an American-Canadian animated children's television series produced by The Fred Rogers Company, 9 Story Media Group and Out of the Blue Enterprises. It debuted on most PBS stations on September 3, 2012. The program, which is targeted at preschool-aged children, is based on the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the long-running children's television series created and hosted by Fred Rogers....  more
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    • 6

      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
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      • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use

        Original release: 2008-2014

        Martha Speaks is a American-Canadian animated children's television series based on the 1992 children's book of the same name by Susan Meddaugh, about a talking dog named Martha, who is owned by ten-year-old Helen Lorraine. When Helen feeds Martha some alphabet soup, the soup travels to her brain instead of her stomach, resulting in her ability to speak. The show focuses on synonyms and vocabulary, with each episode featuring an underlying theme illustrated with key words. The show takes place in the fictional town of Wagstaff City, a parody of Flagstaff, Arizona. The show is produced by WGBH in Boston, along with Vancouver based animation studio DHX Media Vancouver, and debuted on...  more
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        • 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
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