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The Best Reading Shows For Kids

Updated September 1, 2020 520 votes 55 voters 4.0k 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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  • 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
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    • 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
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      • Photo: PBS

        Original release: 1996-Present

        Arthur is a Canadian/American animated educational television series for children, created by Cookie Jar Group and WGBH for the Public Broadcasting Service. The show is set in the fictional American city of Elwood City, and revolves around the lives of 8-year-old Arthur Read, an anthropomorphic aardvark, his friends and family, and their daily interactions with each other. The television series is based on the Arthur book series, which are written and illustrated by Marc Brown. WGBH Boston along with Cinar began production of the animated series in 1994, and aired its first episode on September 2, 1996. Since its debut, the show has broadcast 209 30-minute long episodes, and its 18th season...  more
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        • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

          Original release: 2000-2010

          Between the Lions was a PBS Kids puppet television series designed to promote reading. The show was a co-production between WGBH in Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd., in New York City, in association with Mississippi Public Broadcasting, in Mississippi. The show has won seven Daytime Emmy awards between 2001 and 2007. The target audience is children 5–8 years old. It has the same puppet style as Sesame Street and several season 2 episodes, notably in Dance in Smarty Pants, had a few characters from Sesame Street guest appearing. The show premiered on April 3, 2000, replacing The Puzzle Place. Between the Lions started its 10th and final season on September 20, 2010 and the series finale...  more
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