With shows like The Afterparty, Bad Sisters and Ted Lasso, Apple TV+ has proven it can stream shows that get us all talking. (I’m here anytime you want to process the Bad Sisters season finale.)
But! Did you know that the streaming platform, which just turned three on November 1 (did you forget to send a card?), is quickly becoming the go-to destination for some terrific children’s programming. In particular, Apple TV+ has nearly cornered the market on turning beloved children’s books into television series.
Apple TV+ has so many children’s shows right now, which means some difficult choices had to be made to get to our list of the 10 best. Here they are below, in alphabetical order:
1. Amber Brown
Based on the books series of the same name by Paula Danziger, this 10-episode series follows 11-year-old Amber Brown (Carsyn Rose) as she navigates her parents’ divorce, middle school drama, and her best friend moving away. Executive produced, directed, and written by Bonnie Hunt, this charming series (which also stars Sarah Drew as Amber’s mom and Ashley Williams as her aunt) could fill the big The Baby-sitters Club-size hole in your viewing heart.
2. Best Foot Forward
Paralympian Josh Sundquist looks to his own childhood for this 10-episode series, which finds seventh grader Josh (Logan Marmino) leaving his homeschooling behind to go to public school. Like Sundquist, whose book Just Don’t Fall is the inspiration for the series, Josh has a prosthetic leg and wants his fellow students to see beyond his disability. Keep an eye out for Sundquist who guest stars as Josh’s physical therapist.
3. Circuit Breakers
Think Black Mirror, but for kids! This seven-episode anthology series is aimed at the pre-teen viewer. Set in the not-so-distant future, each 30-minute episode explores the dangers of technology while also addressing familiar adolescent angst, like not making the school track team or finding it hard to make time to do your homework.
4. El Deafo
Based on Newberry award-winning autobiographical graphic novel of the same name by Cece Bell, this three-episode series tells the story of a rabbit named Cece (Lexi Finigan) who lost her hearing at the age of four after a bout of meningitis. Bell narrates the series, which gives it extra poignancy as Cece navigates the hearing world, school, and friendships. Pamela Adlon voices Cece’s loving mom.
5. Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock
Reboots! They’re not just for adults. The beloved Jim Henson puppets are back in this series which stays true to the original, while welcoming in the next generation of viewers. With holiday special “The Night of the Lights” just released, now is the perfect time to head back to Fraggle Rock, as Jamdolin (Daveed Diggs) leads the gang on the search for the brightest light. The original 1980s series can also be found on Apple TV+.
6. Harriet the Spy
Based on the beloved children’s book by Louise Fitzhugh, this animated series follows Harriet (Beanie Feldstein, who has been in the entertainment news a lot recently because of Funny Girl), a precocious 11-year-old who wants to be a writer. The series keeps the book’s 1960’s setting which, to be honest, can be a little bit jarring as the kids take off to the library and walk the streets of New York City by themselves. Jane Lynch (who was also Feldstein’s Funny Girl co-star) voices Ole Golly, Harriet’s no nonsense nanny who makes Harriet her favorite sandwich every day, and Lacey Chabert is Harriet’s school nemesis, Marion Hawthorne.
7. Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show
Jack McBrayer, beloved as Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock, brings his sweet, cheerful personality to the preschool set. “Try a little act of kindness, start a chain of many more!” he sings and dances in the show’s opening moments. How can you resist a message like that? McBrayer interacts with adorable kids and imparts life lessons, making Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show a colorful celebration of being a child.
8. Puppy Place
Based on the Scholastic book series by Ellen Miles, Puppy Place follows siblings Charles (Riley Looc) and Lizzie (Brooklynn MacKinzie) as they foster dogs and help place them in their forever (or furever) homes. The cuteness factor is sky high on this one so be forewarned: your children will definitely want a dog after watching. There are over 50 books in the Puppy Place series, so there are many more adorable dog stories to tell.
9. The Snoopy Show
Everybody’s favorite pup takes center stage in this animated series. Each of the episodes feature three, seven-minute stories about Snoopy and his best friend Woodstock. Of course the rest of the Peanuts gang is along for the ride, including Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Franklin, Schroeder, and Peppermint Patty. In addition to several new specials (my personal favorite is It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown), Apple TV+ is also the current home of all the beloved specials of our youth, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The spirit, voices, and the music of The Snoopy Show is reminiscent of those classics. We’re so glad Charlie Brown doesn’t have a normal dog like everyone else.
10. Surfside Girls
Based on the graphic novels of the same name, best friends Sam (YaYa Gosselin) and Jade (Miya Cech) surf and solve supernatural mysteries in their beautiful town by the ocean. Sam is more the believer of weird and bizarre occurrences, while Jade is the more practical scientific one. It’s like The X-Files, but for kids!
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer and a member of the Television Critics Association. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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