Ever since the days of “Leave It to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best,” TV kids have been a big hit with kid audiences. Young characters are more than relatable. Their age makes them trustworthy, too. And while TV kids look childlike, their impact on young viewers isn’t trivial. In fact, the best ones solve problems, speak truth to power, and fight injustice — all while passing along character strengths like humility, empathy, and teamwork. They’re pretty darn cute, too. These are definitely worth watching.
—Baba, “Puffin Rock,” age 3+, Netflix. Little brother Baba wants so much to do everything his big sister Oona does, even though he can’t quite express it in words beyond “ba-ba!” While he’s a bit of a pest, Baba is a hero to younger brothers everywhere who always make sibling adventures more fun in the end.
—Charlie Brown, “The Peanuts Movie,” age 4+, Boomerang. It’s hard to pick a favorite from the classic Peanuts gang, but long-suffering, humble Charlie always wins our hearts for his ability to champion the underdog. In his latest TV incarnation, he’s as sweet and hapless as ever.
—Elena, “Elena of Avalor,” age 4+, Disney Junior. She’s new on the scene, but Disney’s first Latina-inspired princess is already making a big impression with her problem-solving skills and warm heart. Though her impulsive streak sometimes steers her astray, Elena always returns to reason and rules her kingdom with a pretty steady hand for a 15-year-old.
—Ms. O, “Odd Squad,” age 5+, PBS. A pint-sized powerhouse with a penchant for juice boxes, Ms. O runs the entire math problem-solving organization known as Odd Squad. As the boss, she hands down cases and mitigates troubles, proving that professionals come in all sizes (and genders).
—Lincoln Loud, “The Loud House,” age 6+, Nickelodeon. With 10 spirited sisters, this 11-year-old’s patience is tested daily as he deals with his chaotic but loving family. Communication is key in Lincoln’s life, and viewers get to learn important people skills right along with him.
—Gortimer, “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” age 7+, Amazon. Gortimer’s just a regular kid in a not-so-regular suburb touched by a little bit (OK, a lot) of magic. As he goes on neighborhood adventures and faces challenges, this tween proves himself a loyal friend, good sport, quick thinker, and all-around great role model.
—Diane Johnson, “black-ish,” age 11+, ABC. This bespectacled wunderkind is the voice of reason in the Johnson family — and arguably the sharpest wit. Her no-nonsense attitude and ability to own the rest of her family with cutting humor and constant truth bombs make this strong kid a pleasure to watch.
—Eddie Huang, “Fresh Off the Boat,” age 11+, ABC. As a Taiwanese kid growing up in 1990s Florida, it’s not always easy for Eddie to emulate his rap heroes Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. But his attempts to be cool while staying true to himself and his family are inspirational, hilarious, and a delight to watch.
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