We are quite particular about the kind of programming we prefer the children to watch. Choosing programming is a very personal matter for families. For example, we dislike cartoons that are frenetic with rapid camera shots, so that's a pet peeve of ours personally.
I know I am discovering shows all the time that are worth adding to our list, so I thought I'd compile a list to start conversation. I'd enjoy hearing from other families what wholesome shows you enjoy, and for what ages of children.
List created February 4, 2014; last updated February 4, 2014
The Adventures of Paddington Bear (1997)
Curious George: We like this calm show very much. There are a few episodes we don't love, such as ones that promote environmentalism to a degree we don't teach.
Jungle Book: This borders on too frenetic for us, but the kids really like it.
Kipper: We really enjoy this slow, calm, British series. Very young tots enjoy this one.
Leapfrog: This series of educational programs is nearly at the line of too frenetic for us, but the children do pick up a lot of facts about phonics, shapes, and colors.
The Many Adventures of Whinnie the Pooh (1977)
Postman Pat: Claymation always has a nice, slower effect than animation.
Rocky and Bullwinkle: A bit frenetic, but clean and old-fashioned without modern propaganda. Our criticism is that our children enjoy the show so much, they become obsessed and will talk of little else.
Shaun the Sheep: Claymation
Thomas and Friends: We really enjoy this slow, calm, British series. Very young tots enjoy this one.
Timmy Time: Claymation, younger version of Shaun the Sheep.
Wallace and Gromit: Claymation
The Andy Griffith Show: Even the youngest of children recognize the genius of Barney's character! I do read up on each episode subject, as it might include subject matter young children just don't know about (such as domestic violence or drunkenness).
Barney: For all the mocking of the purple dinosaur, I have come to have a lot of affection for him. I like that the show doesn't present anything as magic, but emphasizes that Barney is a character in children's imagination. The children in the show dress simply and modestly and are polite and kind, not giving sass or using hip lingo. And the littlest of children are mesmerized by this show!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
David Attenborough: Wildlife Specials: These episodes are beautifully crafted. But they are ones I let the children (our oldest being only 7) watch only with my supervision so I can fast-forward particularly bloody animal fight scenes or other things that are just too much. Watch also for environmentalism.
Doctor Dolittle (1967)
How Do They Do It?: This is a show that teaches how stuff works, interesting even for adults. Warning: Check subject matter of each episode because occasionally the "stuff" being taught about isn't age-appropriate for children.
How Stuff Works: This is a show that teaches how stuff works, interesting even for adults. Warning: Check subject matter of each episode because occasionally the "stuff" being taught about isn't age-appropriate for children.
The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (1998)
Mighty Machines: Such a fantastic boy show!
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: We love the slow rythym of this show: the cadence of the voices, the long camera shots. Warning: Watch for show subject matter, such as the six-show series on divorce: one may want to discuss such subjects with children, but a parent wants to make that choice purposefully.
Rascal (1967): A coming-of-age movie about a young man who adopts a baby raccoon for a summer
Signing Time and Baby Signing Time: Our children have learned so much American Sign Language through this series. All my toddlers have used signing, generally knowing around 50 signs by age one-and-a-half, which I find reduces tantrums and makes life easier.
The Sound of Music: Warning: The ending of the movie with the Nazis and escape scenes is too much for young children, so many parents just end the movie a few minutes early.
Tales of Beatrix Potter (1970): This is a live-action version!
Wild America: Cuddly and Cool Creatures: This nature show is old-fashioned and set within a real family. The camera shots are long and still. (We prefer nature shows that don't overly promote environmentalism to the extreme that we are here to serve animals and nature.)