This is another classic book from when I was a kid. I’m not sure whether it is still in print but it’s one to look for at used book stores.
Unlike some of the other Sesame Street books from that era (the 70s), this one is better for kids to look at on their own rather than as a bedtime story. The illustrations by Joe Mathieu are so whimsical and full of detail that kids can spend hours finding every little thing.
It all started when brothers Martin and Chris Kratt grew up in New Jersey, went camping, and took some pictures of local wildlife. This blossomed into lifelong love of nature and specifically of documenting it and sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm.
Their first show together was Kratts’ Creatures in 1996. They evolved the concept a bit and ran Zoboomafoo in 1999, Be the Creature in 2003, and Creature Adventures in 2008. They have been making the current incarnation, Wild Kratts since 2011. This more recent version has much more animation, which my kids find appealing. (They aren’t so interested in long-form nature documentaries with nothing but video clips of animals)
The older content, such as the Zoboomafoo series, has aged well (although the brothers themselves are visibly much younger) and I’ve found used DVDs for very cheap. (The hard part about DVDs these days is finding a working player).
There are also several free onlne spinoff games on PBS Kids Games. Monkey Mayhem is my kids’ favorite.
There are also lots of books based on Wild Kratts and even action figures, and even also a live stage show!
The Kratt Brothers’ enthusiasm is infectious and I find myself jealous that these guys can travel the world, making a living from doing what they love.
The videos and everything they do is wholesome, entertaining, and educational. It’s the kind of thing I have no hesitation of letting my kids watch during their allocated screen time.
There are free videos, games, and other activities on the Wild Kratts website at PBS kids dot org.
(The games are all done in HTML5 so they work on all types of computer, iPad, etc. with no need for the now-deprecated Flash plugin.)
This is a site as well as two apps, one for videos and one for games. There are no ads and they are completely free. Just make sure to support your local PBS station, which helps fund them.
The videos and games are or/for characters/shows such as Daniel Tiger, Peg and Cat, Cyberchase, Curious George, and many, many more.
I wasn’t aware until I had kids, but most of these shows are produced in Canada and employ lots of comedians. Martin Short is the voice of Cat in the Hat, Gilbert Gottfried and Christopher Lloyd are voices in Cyberchase, etc.
There is a huge amount of content, all of it good.
My kids were scared of this book at first and it took a lot of convincing to read it. After they saw the twist ending however, they asked for it over and over, proud that they had conquered their fear. A classic.
An interesting dynamic occurs after the first few pages, when Grover begins begging the reader to not turn the page. Sometimes the kids think we shouldn’t turn the page and just put the book down, honoring Grover’s wishes. And other times they gleefully demand we turn the page even though we’re being asked not to. This gives the kids some agency and a sense of violating the rules, in a harmless way.
This is a fun one to read aloud because Grover gets so emotional and worked up over the course of the story.
This is a series run by Jim Henson’s daughter Lisa, who seems to be in charge of at least half of all children’s TV programming these days. You can watch the series for free at PBSKids.com or via the PBS Kids app (also free). Neither the site nor the app has ads either. Just make sure to support your local PBS station.
The show is light-hearted and full of factual information about dinosaurs and prehistoric times (assuming you can ignore the fact that the dinosaurs all speak English, ride in a time-traveling locomotive, and are not constantly trying to eat each other).
There are tons of episodes, available in DVD form. A good bet for any kid who’s really into dinosaurs.