As a child, my parents didn’t pay for cable TV.
They still don’t have it.
So, my main source of entertainment, in terms of television, was PBS.
There are so many shows that came to mind when I was creating this post. I wanted to share a few of them with you, and how these shows have impacted my life.
I read the Arthur books in school and from the library. Reading Rainbow featured one of the books as well. When the show premiered in September 1996, I watched it every day, like clockwork. In the beginning, it was on after school, paired with Wishbone.
Many of these shows have found new life on YouTube and other streaming services (Netflix, etc.) It’s exciting to be able to watch them again.
It’s interesting to watch some of these shows as an adult. With Arthur, I learned about friendship, families, school, reading, and being a kid.
This is one of the few shows for kids that has explored tougher / more adult topics as well – Divorce, bullies, lying, cancer, and even a touch of religion since Francine’s family is Jewish.
Barney & Friends (1992-2009)
I almost hate to admit it, but I loved the purple dinosaur and all his friends when I was little. There’s a picture of me on the porch of my parents’ house dressed as Barney for one Halloween – It must have been 1992 or 1993.
However, thinking back, the show taught me a lot of good things – Friendship, sharing, kindness, helping others, and so on.
Will you find me showing it to my kids? Not likely. It didn’t take long for the voices, and especially the songs, to get very annoying and corny!
When I was old enough to watch Ghostwriter, it was in its later seasons. However, I loved the show. It’s set in New York (Brooklyn, specifically), and I loved seeing the team work together to solve the mystery at hand. I remember finding an old composition notebook and creating my own “casebook” to follow along with the show.
This show made me want to put together my own group of friends to solve cases. It also teaches about reading, writing, friendship, family, struggles in middle school, and diversity. I loved that every member of the team was an individual, but they also worked as an awesome team.
The entire series is on YouTube, and I find myself re-watching it once or twice a year. I’ve also dreamed up a little bit of fan fiction from time to time.
Reading Rainbow (1983-2006)
Reading Rainbow has always been one of my favorites. I’ve always loved LeVar Burton’s personality, and I figured out pretty quickly that he played Geordi on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I’ve always loved reading, and this show made want to read all of the books that were featured – The books that were the centerpieces of the show, and the books that the kids profiled at the end. I wanted to be one of those kids!
I still remember the Russell Memorial Library having special Reading Rainbow stickers on the book covers. The show was funny, entertaining, and showed how reading show literally show you the world.
I haven’t found many full episodes by way of YouTube, but Netflix has the first full season. I hope they’ll add more!
Sesame Street (1969-present, now partnered with HBO)
Sesame Street has been my long-standing favorite show. Big Bird was my favorite when I was younger. I even had three stuffed versions of him – A small, a medium, and a large that talked with a pull string.
Seeing a mix of new and classic episodes, songs, and shorts on YouTube, it’s fascinating to see how this show has stood the test of time. There was a lot of flack last year when the partnership with HBO was announced. Initially, I didn’t agree with it. But, having researched it, I see why PBS did what they did. I’m still not 100 percent okay with it, but I see the strategy behind it.
This show has so many life lessons mixed in with shapes, colors, and counting. I learned about friendship, family, helping others, good manners, patience, problem solving, and more.
Though not a major character on Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog has been my new favorite Muppet for a while now. Big Bird is a very close second. Cookie Monster, Grover, and Telly round out my top five.
There’s even a fun spin-off series on YouTube called The Furchester Hotel that takes Elmo and Cookie Monster across the pond! It’s adorable and I think it’s great.
Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? (1996-1997)
I had almost all of the computer games, and I remember eagerly watching the kids travel through time to catch Carmen. I found myself applying some of the history I learned from the show in middle school, high school, and even college!
In college, I was so excited to discover that most of the Time episodes, and almost all of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? episodes (1991-1995) are in full on YouTube.
It’s amazing how I subtly learned geography and history with these two shows. I remember watching more of Time than World, since World was ending around the same time as Ghostwriter. Like Arthur, Wishbone, and ZOOM, this one was a daily after-school show for me if I was able to.
I dreamed of being a contestant, but I was too young to try out, and it ended before I turned 10. I loved the concept. Recently, I found myself dreaming up some fan fiction about both shows, so I may put those on paper here soon.
Re-watching a lot of the episodes as an adult, I’ve learned a few new things. It’s been awesome to keep learning after all these years. World just celebrated its 25th anniversary!
Plus, I’ve marveled at how crazy the 1990s were – That multi-media computer system!
This is another show that focused on reading, but it has an adorable Jack Russell terrier that dresses up as the characters and takes you through the book! Awesome!
I wanted to be Samantha, and have best friends like Joe and David. I even wrote an extensive fiction work for my first-ever creative writing class in college that was basically extended fan fiction of these characters, after the show ended and they started high school.
Like some of the other shows mentioned, the entire series is on YouTube, and I’ve loved re-watching them over the last few years.
This was such a cool show. I was a super-fan for the longest time. I even printed everyone’s photos from their website and made my own posters. Yeah, I was that kid.
I loved that it had real kids doing awesome things. I remember making a lot of the crafts, and some of the food. I didn’t have a big group of friends to play a lot of the games, but it was fun to think about.
Some of the seasons are on YouTube, but not all. I’ve found parts and pieces of the first three seasons, and I hope that all of them will eventually be posted. It’s been fun to travel down memory lane!
This was another show that I really wanted to audition for, but then my mom helped me realize that Boston was a long way away from Chesapeake. That was a big bummer!
Regardless, I loved this show. It ended when I was a junior in high school, but I still watched it religiously. I didn’t tell many of my friends, but I still thought it was cool.
That’s all I have! This was such a fun post.
Did you watch PBS?
Did you watch any of these shows?
Do you have any favorite memories of these shows?
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂