There's a lot to love about children's programming right now. Today's shows tackle tough topics with heart and grace . They can help kids build literacy skills and learn more about the world around them . And more than ever before, children can find themselves reflected in the characters they watch on TV.
"That's really what I'm writing about: communities and how we can come together and take care of each other," Chris Nee, the creator of shows like "Doc McStuffins" and "Ridley Jones", told Motherly in an exclusive interview.
"I'm always writing worlds that are how I wish the world I lived in was."
When Nee's Doc McStuffins debuted in 2012 on Disney Channel, it was the first animated series aimed at preschoolers to feature a Black girl as the lead character . It shouldn't have taken that long for children's programming to catch up with the world around us.
Nee's newest show, Ridley Jones , debuts on Netflix this month. It's about an adventurous young girl named Ridley who lives inside a museum with her mother and grandmother. Together, they protect and maintain the museum's exhibits—who come alive at night (naturally). Ridley is courageous and eager to learn; her museum friends are dynamic and exciting, too. If you're looking for an example of a female adventurer, Ridley's your girl. The show also features Fred the bison, a nonbinary character voiced by Ezra Means, a nonbinary actor, and Ismat, an Egyptian mummy with two dads.
This week is all about #RidleyJones. It premiers on Tuesday. I love this show. And since there have been 18 million… https://t.co/HLR7pU8xja— Chris Nee (She/Her)🏳️🌈 (@chrisdocnee) 1625940142.0
Nee says she hopes that all children will be able to find themselves in her characters.
"I'm a kid who felt very othered," she said. "I grew up in the '80s as a gay kid—in a time where you really didn't see yourself reflected anywhere. I carry a lot of that feeling with me, of what it is to just feel not centered in any stories. I had a hard time centering myself in my own story because I just felt uncomfortable in many, many ways." When it comes to including characters of different backgrounds, Nee says it just makes sense.
"It reflects the world around us. It is actually what's happening outside our doors," she added.
Whether your family watches television sparingly or frequently (no judgment here!), we know that when it comes to screen time, you want the best for your little one. We're rounding up some of the most inclusive kids' shows on television—so you can feel confident that when your child is watching TV, they're learning more about the exciting, diverse world around them.
Follow six-year-old Ridley Jones as, along with her mother and grandmother, she protects the museum she calls home.
Molly of Denali
Molly of Denali is the first U.S. nationally distributed children's series to feature an Alaskan Native lead character. The show centers on ten-year-old Molly, who helps run the Denali Trading Post.
Blue's Clues & You!
This revival of Blue's Clues features the talented Joshua Dela Cruz as Blue's owner and friend. Dela Cruz is the first Asian American Pacific Islander to host a major children's show.
Elena of Avalor
This fairytale show is set in a kingdom inspired by Latin American culture. It follows Princess Elena Castillo Flores's journey to protect her kingdom.
For over 50 years, Sesame Street has led the way in inclusive and high-quality children's programming.
Dottie "Doc" McStuffins wants to be a doctor like her pediatrician mother, so she practices her skills by fixing her toys and dolls.
Mira, Royal Detective
Set in the fictional kingdom of Jalpur, this show follows Mira, an intelligent and brave girl who is appointed to the role of royal detective by the Queen. Mira is the first South Asian protagonist in a Disney Junior show.
The Bravest Knight
Based on the children's book "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, this show follows a young pumpkin farmer as he attempts to become the bravest knight who ever lived.
This fun series follows a group of young spies as they use math, science and logic to solve and investigate strange reports.
Nella the Princess Knight
Nella teaches kids that they can do it all. She's a princess by birth who also uses a magical necklace to transform into a knight to save her kingdom.