Finding creative videos for kids can seem like a real challenge for parents these days. Do you find your child watching more and more regurgitated and ADD-laced television? As a parent, I know that I seem to trust my child to a lot of so-called kid-friendly networks, but I’m finding that it has all become sugared up and substance-free fluff. Sure, it seems innocuous and innocent, but this isn’t the stuff we grew up with, folks.
Nowadays, you see a lot of videos for kids meant for the ages of three to 12 divided up into multiple mini-sodes. Spongebob Squarepants is one to name off the top of my head, but very rarely do you find an entire episode about one subject. It’s cheap to produce, and you can have a kid hop on in at any episode and not have to worry about them not grasping it. Everything is tailored to make it easy for your kid to get in, get hooked, and want the toys.
Back in my day, we had the big toy companies wanting tie-ins with those videos for kids, too. Trust me, I lived in a day of Transformers, Thundercats, Speed Racer, Jem and the Holograms, and even dozens of other shows in the ’80s that were not in bits and pieces; they were episodic. Imagine that, right? We were expected to tune in and follow a storyline, and if we hadn’t, the show would kindly tell us briefly what happened last week. They still sold us toys. We still bought them. We weren’t idiotic for the experience.
The fact of the matter is that you can access these videos for kids through YouTube (try the apps on your consoles, tablets, and phones; your kids will dig them) and don’t talk down to them about them. Ease them in. “This is what I grew up with. Want to see cars turn into robots? Like in those movies?” Or if you’re talking to a little girl who loves to see Hannah Montana and Princesses, show her Jem and the Holograms and watch her brain explode with curiosity.
I introduced my child to a series of different types of animation ranging from anime to the cartoons I grew up with. There are wonderful and intriguing shows meant for girls as well as boys, mind you. Shows like Aishiteruze Baby (translated: Love You, Baby) have subtitles with sweet animation and a wonderful message of a young heart-throb wanting to help care for a little girl with the help of his family. For those older girls, try Peach Girl, which is the story of a beautiful yet cast-out girl with red hair and tanned skin who gets ostracized for being different in her school. All of these shows are episodic and promote paying attention as opposed to disposable episodes that don’t connect whatsoever.
I included a few episodes with synopses so that you could entice your kids, young and old, into getting into their themes and perhaps even pushing them into something smarter as opposed to Disney popstars and Nickelodeon discardables. (Yes, I made that word up. Deal with it.) It’s also important to note that all of these videos for kids can be found on DVD and that these anime shows can be bought dubbed in English if your kid isn’t into reading subtitles. I was one of the lucky few who found that my kid loved to read and experience along with the show.
Videos for Kids: Transformers — 1984
All right, it’s no surprise that this franchise has blown up, but this is where it started. This is the humble origin story of an alien race that fell to Earth and adapted into our vehicles. Episodic, full of action and morality tales, Transformers has always been the goods. Yes, Megatron always loses and that’s the way it should be when you’re a kid. Good guys win; bad guys don’t. End of story.
Videos for Kids: Thundercats — 1985
Your boys aren’t interested? Your girls don’t care about robots? I bet they care about kickass cat people who are ready to take down a mummy-wrapped evil. Thundercats was intense and it wasn’t the brightly colored hero tale that He-Man and She-Ra was (both of which I love), but it had substance that few other series can say they had back then. Yes, we bought the toys and decoder rings and we thanked our parents for letting us play pretend in a world that was actually built around imagination and not just selling beach towels.
Videos for Kids: Jem and the Holograms — 1980s
Before you scoff, Jem and the Holograms is beloved by both men and women alike. It’s built and crafted by the same people who did G.I. Joe and the Transformers as well as the episodic 1980s series of My Little Pony. (Yes, that one is still the best. Consider me a purist. Is your kid too young for these? Get them the 1980s My Little Pony. Still episodic. Still fun.) Is your kid obsessed with Disney chicks like Hannah Montana and those Wizards of Waverly Place kids? Try combining the two and put some substance in it. Jem is the alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, a well-to-do girl whose father owns a charity and music company. When her father dies, she struggles with her identity until given powers to transform between the two personas with the help of earrings. Sounds dumb to us adults, but my child devoured every season to the point that I had to go on eBay and find the dolls.
Videos for Kids: Speed Racer — 1967
One of the first shows to contain episodic and thrilling content, this show was brought over and dubbed into English. It was when companies started seeing that episodic animation was being done to excess in other countries and yet Americans weren’t releasing it. This was where we all started. With the kind of high octane energy that kids love as well as the goofy and sometimes poorly dubbed funtimes of most Japanese animation of the era, Speed Racer is a good distraction and a fun little way to get young kids who love cars and mystery involved.
Videos for Kids: Aishiteruze Baby (Love You, Baby)
Meant for young girls into tweens, this story is of a young man who seems to take nothing seriously until an abandoned girl is left in his charge. Between him and his family, he develops a sense of duty and love for the people around him, and it’s a beautiful tale. Yes, it is in subtitles, but young girls who can read will love this series without even meaning to. Episode one had my daughter hooked to this day.
Videos for Kids: Peach Girl (English Dubbed)
Meant for tweens and teenage girls, consider this a soap opera that teaches young girls how to obtain self-worth and what is actually important to the boys and girls they get crushes on. Telling the story of a lonely girl who gets admired for all the wrong reasons and hated by girls for attention she never sought out, it helps girls and boys put things into perspective while going through their tougher years in school.
So there you go! There’re some creative videos for kids ideas. Show your kids something new, wean them off of the television that is too dumb for them, and guide them into something they can carry with them when they’re older and learn more than just how to dance in a pineapple under the sea.
Image courtesy of Maliz Ong