Family Fridays – TV Shows for One Year Olds That Won’t Make You Insane (YMMV)

As mentioned earlier in the week, my son and I both had a pretty bad cold a few weeks ago, and so we did something we normally don’t do: we camped out in a comfy chair together, snuggled, went through mountains of tissues, and watched several tv shows back to back. Here are my top three picks for shows at his current age:

Sesame Street: I don’t remember watching Sesame Street growing up, so I’ve been blown away at how good it is. They’ve got great educational stuff, music, art, morals, etc. and they still manage to entertain the very young crowd. My son giggles out loud when he sees his favorites: Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Grover, Elmo (man, I hate Elmo) and Oscar the Grouch. I was raving about what a great show it was to a friend and she mentioned something about the “political messages”. I haven’t seen any subversive political messages, though I only watch the show on Netflix, which has a very limited selection, so I might be missing something from later seasons.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: This is a spin off from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (which I’ve also never seen), and the focus is on learning social skills – sharing, what to do when you get mad, etc. It is a very good show, though of the three listed here, I find I have the lowest tolerance for this one, mostly due to the repetition. Each thirty minute segment is split into two parts, each teaching the same lesson, but with different characters. Each segment has a song that gets sung quite often (“If you have to go potty, STOP! and go right away!”) and WILL get stuck in your head. The first season is on Netflix.

Postman Pat Special Delivery Service: This is the updated version of a show I remember from my childhood, Postman Pat. It is a charming little show set in a small, rural town in England (using stop motion animation – or at least a look alike) that features the adventures of the postman trying to deliver a parcel that somehow always goes wrong. It’s probably the least educational of the three here, but it’s very pleasant. This one isn’t on Netflix, but you can watch it free on Amazon Prime if you’re a member. My mother bought me the first season, and we’re enjoying working our way through it. It doesn’t hold my one year old’s attention as much as the other two (it’s a little old for him), but we can usually get through at least one 15 minute segment, and generally a 30 minute show.

I’ve tried other shows, but these are the three I keep coming back to. What shows do you watch with your kids?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Pre Christmas Five

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday and has a respectable, but not overwhelming, amount of leftovers. Today is our last Pre Christmas Post! See below for links to all four previous installments.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is such a classic that it needs no introduction. So I shall simply say, if you don’t have the book, get it! (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) It’s really wonderful and you can find it just about anywhere. I think I used a coupon and got mine at Kohls for about $5 last year. I also really like the original animated tv adaptation (Amazon, Barnes and Noble). I don’t have that yet, but I’m hoping to add it to my collection in the next couple of years so I can enjoy it with my son.

Ok, now your turn! Which of your favorite Christmas books and movies did I miss?

To review, I’ve covered:

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Snowman (movie)

2. Merry Christmas, Ernest and Celestine and A Muppet Christmas Carol

3. A Little House Christmas Treasury and A Charlie Brown Christmas

4. Angelina’s Christmas and Claymation Christmas Celebration

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Pre Christmas Four

Here’s is the fourth in my Pre Christmas series. Have you started shopping yet? I’ve had my baby’s presents for weeks now. Not that I’m excited or anything…

Angelina’s Christmas (1985): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I adore this book. The illustrations are beautiful and it tells a simple tale about wanting to make an old man happy for Christmas, which ends up benefiting everyone. It’s in the Angelina Ballerina series, but it’s not a girly book, so don’t hesitate to try it out on your boys, too. This is set in a small English town (Chipping Cheddar – hehe), and they say things like “biscuit” and “Father Christmas”, so depending on the age of your kids, you could also use it as a jumping off point to talk about different Christmas customs around the world. At least I hope that’s still the case and they haven’t Americanized it. Don’t get me started on why “translating” books between English dialects is ridiculous, unnecessary, and insulting to the reading public. Anyway, this is a charming, lighthearted Christmas tale, and well worth incorporating into a gift or new family tradition.

Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

You have to buy this movie bundled with some other holiday Claymation specials (which I haven’t seen, but have heard aren’t that great), but it’s worth it just to get this one. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a collection of Christmas carols all set to really differently styled Claymation action. Some are funny, some are quite beautiful, and some are just joyous. The event is emceed by a couple of dinosaurs argue about the word wassail throughout the interludes, which makes for a nice conclusion as they end on “Here we come a wassailing”. I’m going to try it with my son this year and see if the music will be able to hold his interest (he’ll be almost one). He loves music and bright colors, so he might be able to sit through it, and it’s only 24 minutes long.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Pre-Christmas Two

I’m continuing with part two of our Pre Christmas series (you can see my twisted logic as to why this is ok here).

Merry Christmas, Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent (1983)

It is perhaps unfair of me to recommend this book – it is out of print. But I have to. It is such a sweet, sweet book about love and family and friendship and poverty and joy anyways. I think the message in this book is so important: just because you don’t have money does not mean you cannot bring happiness to those around you. That’s a message for Christmas and the rest of the year. I bought my copy through Barnes and Noble’s marketplace. It is not in great condition, but it is certainly good enough to enjoy. I strongly encourage you to see if your library has a copy, or you could look for it used at your favorite used bookstore, half.com (eBay for books), or Amazon’s marketplace. Caution: Happy tears may abound.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992): Amazon, Barnes and Noble

On the lighter side, I present to you: The Muppet Christmas Carol. This surprisingly good adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale is both faithful to the original and a fun movie on its own merits. The Muppets add enough comic relief to keep kids interested during the more somber moments. Plus, watching Michael Caine singing to puppets is a bit surreal. But anyhow, everyone does a great job, both puppets and humans alike. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come part is a bit scary (as are the ghosts of the Marleys earlier on, but to a much lesser degree), so I’d recommend previewing it before deciding if your children are ready for it (it is rated G). This is a Must Watch Every Year in our household, and has been for decades.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Pre-Christmas One

Welcome to Christmas Season! No, don’t run away – at least let me explain. While I try very hard to stifle the Christmas spirit until it’s legally allowed (post-Thanksgiving meal in our house), one thing that I am allowed to discuss during the year is Christmas presents. I hate waiting until the last minute, and the sooner I have my presents picked out the happier I am. Therefore, I’m going to use the Family Fridays in November to talk about some great Christmas books and movies, in case you want to give any as presents, or if you want to have them on hand for when you are ready to start celebrating.

I love the idea of giving Christmas-themed books or movies as presents, but if they don’t get opened until December 25, you have an extremely small window to enjoy them. I’ve decided to start a tradition of giving a little something on December 6, Saint Nicolas’ Day (and Christmas pajamas, for the same reason), for us to enjoy throughout the month (I’ve been debating back and forth on whether my husband’s pajamas from St. Nick will be something he would like, such as basic plaid, or something truly epic, like penguins wearing Santa hats while sledding down a pine tree covered hill). As a side note, we also observe (in a small way) Epiphany, or King’s Day (the traditional twelve days of Christmas is essentially Christmas Day to Epiphany), which is January 6, so that is literally a month of Christmas. I couldn’t be happier about it.

Anyways, back to the main point. If you want to try some of these things out before springing them on your family (or if you want to get started earlier!) you can find many of these things at a library, and the movies can be rented online, or through a service like RedBox. Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix also have a selection of Christmas movies.

To kick things off, I present:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1972): Amazon, Barnes & Noble

This is a wonderful, wonderful book and one of my absolute favorite Christmas books. A hilarious tale of what happens when six of the worst kids you’ll ever meet take over the local church’s Christmas Pageant. I cannot recommend this highly enough. The chapters are the perfect length for reading out loud together in the evenings. Even if you’re an adult with no kids, this is worth a read and sure to bring at least a smile or two.

The Snowman (1982 – movie version): Amazon

Though originally a book first published in 1978 by Raymond Briggs, it is as a movie that I know and love this story. The book is completely without words, as is the movie, apart from a few introductory lines. I’m finding it difficult to put into words why I love this movie so much – it’s some combination of the music and the visuals and having watched it nearly every year for a couple of decades now. It’s a charming tale, though with a bittersweet ending, about a young boy and (obviously) the snowman he builds in his yard. Cuddle up with some hot chocolate and some loved ones and start a new family tradition.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

 

Family Fridays – Brazil Edition

Well, the rest of the September is going to look quite a bit different here at Lector’s Books. For one thing, as you’re reading this, I am probably struggling my way through Brazilian customs right now (with a baby!) and will be spending much of the rest of the month there. While I love this blog and you, my gentle readers (actually, you’re way better than gentle readers – you’re passionate readers), I’m going to take a break from blogging while I’m gone.

Fear not, since I have lined up a full month’s worth of guest posts that are all amazing. I hope you enjoy them even half as much as I have. It has been humbling to learn, as many of you have answered the call to guest blog, that not only am I blessed to be part of a circle of readers, I am also blessed to be part of a circle of talented writers, each with his or her own passion to share with you.

So, it’s going to be a great month, and I don’t mean that just because I’ll be on the beach in Brazil drinking caipirinhas (traveling with a baby is always stress-free, right? Right?!?).

But it’s Family Fridays, so I’m going to leave you with this recommendation: Rio.

It’s a really fun movie set in Rio – and the graphics are detailed enough that I’ve heard Rio natives look for their apartment buildings. I frankly was not expecting to enjoy it (Jesse Eisenberg annoys me, as does Tracy Morgan – they both did an excellent job), but it was cute without being too cutesy and had some good action and songs, followed by a (spoiler alert) happy ending.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Mulan

Genre: Children’s TV/Movies

Ages: It’s rated G, I couldn’t find a good age range, but probably pretty young. Definitely less scary than some other Disney movies, but the “bad guys” were kind of scary.

Blurb:

 Clever Mulan disguises herself as a male soldier named “Ping” to bravely take her father’s place in the Imperial Army.

Review:

This is my favorite Disney movie, hands down. There are so many great things to love about it. On the surface, it has humor, great action, and loveable misfit characters. A little bit deeper and the themes in it are rock solid – especially for girls. Number one, I love that the main character, Mulan, does not dress in a revealing manner. I know this makes me sound old and crotchety (which is only half right), but I HATE that Disney heroines are often dressed up (or barely dressed) to be sexy. The Little Mermaid only wore a bra, for goodness sake, to say nothing of Jasmine in Aladdin. And I will not get into the kerfuffle about Disney “beautifying” Merida from Brave for her princess induction, except to say that I fear for the little girls of this generation who are growing up more bombarded by media than ever before and have that sort of thing to deal with. Hats off to those of you who are raising girls and doing your best to instill in them a positive and healthy body image.

Anyhoo, back to Mulan. She’s smart, funny, tough, loyal, capable, and totally and completely socially inept. I think what I love the most about her, though, is that she has her own very strongly defined sense of honor/ethics/rightness and follows through no matter the danger or cost to herself. She’s a great problem solver and comes up with unique solutions under pressure. There’s more to this Disney chick than just a pretty face and a fairy tale wedding. What a great message for all of our children (and ourselves, too). This could be a movie to watch with children on the younger side and just enjoy as the fun movie it is, or it could be a great movie to watch with teens and have some more in-depth discussions about what it all represents.

Get it! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target

Side Note: Apparently there were sequels. I haven’t watched any of them on the assumption that they were probably going to be awful, which may not be fair as I know nothing about them. However, the links I’ve included go to a Mulan/Mulan II combo, since I couldn’t find the first Mulan solo anywhere.

Have you seen Mulan? What did you think of it? Did you know about the Disney Vault? My husband has been teaching me about pop culture and I have to say, as an economist who understands the relationship between supply/demand and price, I’m extremely impressed at their evil genius. As a parent who wants to get my hands on Beauty and the Beast (great music and visual imagery) I find it extremely annoying.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

Family Fridays – Avatar: The Last Airbender TV Series

TV Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender (this has nothing to do with the James Cameron Avatar movie)

Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Anime

Ages: 8-10 on up, depending on the child

Synopsis:

Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Only the Avatar was the master of all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless Fire Nation from conquering the world. But when the world needed him most, he disappeared. Until now… On the South Pole, a lone Water Tribe village struggles to survive. It’s here that a young Waterbender named Katara and her warrior brother Sokka rescue a strange boy named Aang from a cavernous iceberg. Not only is Aang an Airbender–a race of people no one has seen in a century–but they soon discover that Aang is also the long lost Avatar. Now it’s up to Katara and Sokka to make sure Aang faces his destiny to save the tribe–and himself. Did we mention he’s only 12?

Review:

My husband and I have watched all three seasons of this more than once. It’s a fun show that has great world building, some beautiful art, and interesting characters. I’m going to call the style “anime-lite.” I am not an anime lover (though I am an animal lover) – I’ve tried a couple of different shows and could just never get into any of them. This show has some of the overly stylized elements of anime, some episodes more than others, but they didn’t annoy me as they often do.

This is a classic “good vs. evil” saga, and there are some darker episodes (this is, after all, about a world war), but if your child is used to watching superhero cartoons, this is pretty tame by those standards. It takes the traditional four elements, adds a touch of magic, and then makes them into martial art forms. There are some really great themes explored that go beyond the usual friendship, love, loyalty, etc. For example, Aang, the main character, really struggles with how to bring peace to the world but still remain true to his nonviolent beliefs. Also there is a flying bison.

It is aimed at the younger generation, but if you are a fantasy fan, it’s definitely worth checking out at any age. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, and is free to stream from Netflix and Amazon prime.

Side Note: There was a movie adaptation, which looked terrible, so I haven’t seen it. Reviewers have not been kind to it. There is also a continuation of the series called “The Legend of Korra” which takes place a couple of generations later than the original series. This is much darker and has a steampunk edge to it. I found it to be too much stress for very little emotional payoff. I’m told that it got better a couple of episodes in, but life is too short to watch shows you don’t like.

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.