Some of it’s even educational!
Children’s entertainment has gone through big changes through the decades. TV shows and movies used to appeal to kids with colorful, simplistic visuals and safe stories. Nowadays, emotionally-charged TV shows for kids are common ground, and epic adventures are no longer reserved for teenagers and adults. What better time is there to go through Netflix’s vast catalog and pick the best TV series for kids? There is something in this list for everyone, from educational, PBS-style animated shows about magic buses to live-action shows about fighting evil and classic anime. If you’re looking for the next series that will both entertain your kids and get them to appreciate a good story, you’ve come to the right place!
So check out our list of the best kids shows on Netflix below. And for movie recommendations, check out our list of the best shows on Netflix, best family movies on Netflix, or best children’s films on Prime Video or HBO.
Editor’s Note: This list was most recently updated August 2023 to include Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
Creator: Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino
Cast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, Jack DeSena, Dante Basco
Arguably one of the all-time greatest animated shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender pushed boundaries for what a TV show made for kids could do. The show follows a young boy who is tasked with bringing balance to a world in war. The show featured an epic serialized story with heavy themes such as genocide and totalitarianism while maintaining a playful humor. The characters are well-developed and have their own interesting arcs, and we get perhaps the best redemption story in decades. And the show actually builds up to a concrete ending that ties all the themes and stories in a near perfect bow. If you haven’t seen this modern classic, now is your chance.
Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse (2012)
Cast: Kate Higgins, Sean Hankinson, Paula Bodin, Paula Rhodes, Laura Gerow
Kate Higgins stars as the voice of Barbie in Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, an animated series from creator David Wiebe. Joining the iconic blonde in these short stories are Barbie’s sisters, Chelsea (Laura Gerow), Skipper, and Stacie (both voiced by Paula Rhodes), as well as her boyfriend, Ken (Sean Hankinson). Set in a distant future where sentient dolls inhabit the planet after humans are extinct, Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse focuses on the doll family and their friends as they go on numerous adventures where they learn life lessons intended for their young-skewing audience. – Yael Tygiel
Gabby’s Dollhouse (2021-present)
Creators: Jennifer Twomey, Traci Paige Johnson
Cast: Laila Lockhart Kraner, Tucker Chandler, Juliet Donenfeld
Gabby’s Dollhouse is an adorably vibrant preschool series from co-creators Jennifer Twomey and Traci Paige Johnson. Gabby’s Dollhouse is a feel-good show that joins Gabby (Laila Lockhart Kraner) and her sidekick Pandy Paws (Tucker Chandler) on mixed media adventures through a magical world bursting with whimsy. Gabby’s Dollhouse leans heavily into cat puns and modern internet culture, with Gabby unboxing irresistible treasures in each episode before diving into a colorful experience, creatively merging educational moments with quirky storytelling and cute crafts. Gabby’s Dollhouse feels like a unique combination of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Dragon Tales, and The Magic School Bus. – Yael Tygiel
No Good Nick (2019)
Creator: David H. Steinberg, Keetgi Kogan
Cast: Siena Agudong, Melissa Joan Hart, Sean Astin, Lauren Lindsey Donzis
No Good Nick is an unexpectedly complex family series from creators David H. Steinberg and Keetgi Kogan. Featuring a slightly darker storyline and edgier tone than traditional family-focused comedies, No Good Nick follows a young and streetwise con artist (Siena Agudong) who infiltrates the loving Thompson family under the guise of a long-lost relative. Throughout the short-lived series, No Good Nick explores themes of family, abuse, and flaws in the American foster care system. Starring former child actors Melissa Joan Hart and Sean Astin starring as the parents of the Thompson family, No Good Nick launches with a truly compelling concept. – Yael Tygiel
Julie and the Phantoms (2020)
Creators: Dan Cross, David Hoge
Cast: Madison Reyes, Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada
Based on a Brazilian series, Julie and the Phantoms is a delightful yet devastatingly short-lived musical fantasy series starring Madison Reyes as the titular Julie. Supporting Reyes are a trio of young ghosts played by the charming Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, and Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time). Creators Dan Cross and David Hoge highlight their immensely talented cast by utilizing directors like the legendary Kenny Ortega (Hocus Pocus), who also produced the series. Blending supernatural elements, high school drama, and catchy, toe-tapping bops, Julie and the Phantoms is the ideal series for graduates of the Disney Channel Original Movies and those who aren’t ready to say goodbye to the High School Musical vibes. – Yael Tygiel
The Baby-Sitter’s Club (2020-2021)
Created by: Rachel Shukert
Cast: Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker
Based on the beloved book series by Ann M. Martin, The Baby-Sitter’s Club combines the classic charm of the 80s and 90s novels while touching on relevant present-day issues. With an impressive young cast, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness breakout Xochitl Gomez as Dawn in season 1, as well as 90s icon Alicia Silverstone as Kristy’s (Sophie Grace) mom, the show has been praised for its layered characters and refreshingly authentic feel. Sincere but not saccharine, this series is a truly remarkable adaptation that is sure to appeal to kids and nostalgic adults alike. – Taylor Gates
Alexa & Katie (2018-2020)
Created by: Heather Wordham
Cast: Paris Berelc, Isabel May, Jolie Jenkins, Emery Kelly, Eddie Shin, Finn Carr, Tiffani Thiessen, Jack Griffo
The first multi-cam sitcom produced by Netflix, Alexa & Katie won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program in 2018. The show centers around Alexa (Paris Berelc), who discovers she has cancer right before her freshman year. Together with her family and best friend Katie (Isabel May), Alexa navigates her illness as well as all the normal issues every teenager must deal with when entering high school. Alexa & Katie manages to tackle serious issues in a heartwarming and hopeful way, making the show a powerful, uplifting, and often even hilarious watch. – Taylor Gates
PJ Masks (2015-present)
Creator: Romuald Racioppo
Cast: Kyle Breitkopf, Addison Holley, Jacob Ewaniuk, Alex Thorne
Superheroes are everywhere, there’s no denying that. But where the Marvel and DC movies are aimed towards older kids, here comes PJ Masks to introduce the younglings to the exciting world of superheroes. We follow three 6-year-olds who become superheroes at nighttime, and get together to fight crime as the titular superhero team, facing villains and having to work as a team to defeat them. PJ Masks combines all the superheroics of a big-budget movie, with the vast imagination of its target demographic, resulting in a kid-friendly action-adventure show that’s both entertaining and an effective morality tale.
Green Eggs & Ham (2019-present)
Cast: Adam Devine, Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Jeffrey Wright, Jillian Bell
Just like Dr. Seuss’ stories function as bridges for kids to be introduced to the English language, or how to read, Netflix’s Green Eggs & Ham functions as an excellent introductory course to TV storytelling, and comedy. A kind of kid-friendly version of the comedy classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles, we follow Sam-I-Am and Guy-Am I, who are tasked with guarding and transporting a wild chicken/giraffe hybrid, and end up on a roadtrip of self-discovery. The animation is simply gorgeous, the star-studded cast will delight grown-ups, and the colorful, stylish, silly fun ride of a story will entertain kids as well as give them an excellent introductory course to comedy and TV. Plus, the show has a few surprisingly dramatic twists and turns that will keep you on your toes and teach you a thing or two.
The Magic School Bus (2014-2017)
Creator: The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
Cast: Lily Tomlin, Lisa Yamanaka, Danny Temberelly, Daniel DeSanto
What better way is there to learn about science than with wacky, magic-assisted bus rides that prove field trips are the best part of elementary school, or any school? That’s the premise of this classic ’90s PBS show, The Magic School Bus, which showed you don’t necessarily have to compromise education or entertainment when making an “edutainment” show. Every episode an elementary class would go out on a field trip led by the mysterious Ms. Frizzle, the catch being that their bus was magic and could send them on extraordinary adventures like going back in time to see dinosaurs, or the classic fantastic voyage plot where they go inside a student’s body. The stories were as varied as they were fun, and you do learn about a wide variety of topics. Plus, the theme song is a classic. And if you want something a bit more recent, Netflix also made a reboot of the same name, with Lin-Manuel Miranda composing the new theme song.
Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom (2020)
Cast: John Sparkes, Justin Fletcher, Marcus Brigstocke
No matter what anyone tells you, Shaun the Sheep is Britain’s greatest export, and the latest season, Adventures from Mossy Bottom is as fun as the show has ever been. A collection of claymation shorts, we follow the titular Shaun in a variety of wacky adventures that serve as a way to introduce younger audiences to the kind of wordless animation from the early days of the medium. Unlike other animated shows, Shaun the Sheep relies on pure visual storytelling, but don’t worry, the shorts easily grab your attention and don’t let go, with witty humor that appeals to both kids and the adults that will get the pop-culture references.
Cast: Bella Ramsey, Daisy Haggard, Ameerah Falzon-Ojo, Rasmus Hardiker
There’s been a new wave in recent years of shows for kids that blend storytelling of middle-grade chapter books with a deeper emotional growth and a sense of responsibility towards your community. Like Adventure Time, and Steven Universe, Hilda is more than what first meets the eye. The titular character, Hilda, lives in a version of Scandinavia that looks as if it was designed by Hayao Miyazaki. She’s been living in the wilderness with her mother, having adventures with all sorts of magical creatures, but has a difficult time coping when they move to the magic-less, but human-filled city of Trollberg. The show is absolutely gorgeous, yet its story is also deeply melancholic, as we follow Hilda’s path towards learning to consider other perspectives, and find the magic in a new place she is initially suspicious of.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (2020)
Creator: Radford Sechrist
Cast: Karen Fukuhara, Sydney Mikayla, Coy Stewart, Deon Cole
The first thing to notice about Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is how incredible it looks. Animated by the folks from Studio Mir (The Legend of Korra) everything about the world of the show looks grand, lush and full of color. Though not as heavy on action as Korra, there are still some thrilling scenes that are animated with excruciating detail and fluidity of movement. The story follows a young girl who emerges from her underground city to embark on a journey to find her family, while trying to survive a fantastical post-apocalyptic Earth full of giant, sentient, mutant animals. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it features a great supporting voice cast (including Sterling K. Brown and Dan Stevens), one very cool soundtrack (from the guy behind Into the Spider-Verse), plus it features one of the best portrayals of queerness in a TV show. If you’ve ever wanted to see a band of lumberjack cats, or a rock band made of snakes, or what an EDM Wasp is, this is the show for you.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018)
Creator: Noelle Stevenson
Cast: Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner
High-fantasy has a tendency of being male-centric and excluding female characters, but that is not the case with the visually exciting, hilarious and emotional She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. The animated show puts women front and center on both sides of the camera, while also giving us some very powerful queer representation that blows any other show out of the water. That this is aimed at kids doesn’t mean the show is all bright and safe, however. As Dave Trumbore said in his review of season 4, if the show were Harry Potter, it just had Cedric face Voldemort. She-Ra has a cheerful sense of humor, fleshed-out characters kids can identify themselves with, and an empowering story that results in an outstanding reboot of the 1985 series. With the fifth and last season of the show premiering soon, now is the perfect time to dive into the world of She-Ra.
Cast: Kathryn Long, Corey Sevier, Hayden Christensen, Adam West
The ’90s was a golden age of kid-friendly horror shows. From Are You Afraid of the Dark, to Tales from the Cryptkeeper, to Courage the Cowardly Dog, there was no shortage of spooky tales to give kids a good scare before bedtime, but among them, Goosebumps reigned supreme. From the moment the creepy theme song starts playing over the opening credits and the dog’s eyes light up, you instantly know you in for a scary time (kid-friendly, of course). The show treated kids as grown-ups, knowing they were capable of understanding the stakes of each of the stories in this anthology show, while still making sure there was a moral message or resolution at the end. Goosebumps is a great way of introducing kids to the horror genre, as the stories are self-contained and revolve around all kinds of classic story tropes.
A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019)
Creators: Daniel Handler, Barry Sonnenfield, Mark Hudis
Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, Lucy Punch
While the 2004 adaptation of Lemony Snicket‘s popular book series A Series of Unfortunate Events garnered decent reviews from critics, it ended up underwhelming at the box office, thus leaving the story of the orphaned Baudelaire children unfinished on the big screen, as the film only covered the first three of 13 books. Fortunately, Netflix and director Barry Sonnenfield gave fans who grew up with the gothic book series the ultimate treat with a rebooted television series with Neil Patrick Harris taking on the role of the nefarious Count Olaf. A Series of Unfortunate Events is the perfect example of a television series that both kids and adults can enjoy. The show has been acclaimed for its Wes Anderson-esque style of zaniness and production design, as well as for remaining faithful to the source material and giving fans the satisfying ending that they wanted from the first on-screen go-around. – Nate Richard
Creator: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Kelsey Grammer, Anton Yelchin, Lexi Medrano, Charlie Saxton, Fred Tatasciore, Jonathan Hyde, Steven Yeun
What if you could have a story that mixes fantasy with science fiction and even horror, that appealed to kids but had the love of genre that comes when you have Guillermo del Toro as a creator? You get the epic, moving, and just plain fun that is Trollhunters. With a style of humor that’s funnier than most kid-friendly comedies, yet with the same gravitas del Toro brings to his live-action dark fantasy and horror movies, Trollhunters is the first chapter in the Tales of Arcadia saga that spanned two spin-offs and a movie. We follow Jim, your average kid who is also a chosen one to defend trollkind from evil, as he tries to balance a double life as a student and a hero. The series has an ever-expanding mythology, a fantastic and diverse cast of characters, and a story that takes many twists and turns and also a big heart.
Power Rangers (1993-1996)
Creator: Haim Saban, Shuki Levy
Cast: Jason David Frank, David Yost, Catherine Sutherland, Walter Emanuel Jones
Another long-lasting franchise that still hasn’t overstayed its welcome, Power Rangers has for more than two decades entertained kids with tales of good versus evil, and also giant robots. Remaking the Japanese Super Sentai series with new footage and new actors, the show follows a team of teenagers who are superheroes in everything but name, who morph into the eponymous Rangers, using special powers and giant mechas to fight a series of villains. The theme songs are the best that ’90s power metal had to offer, the giant Zords get more and more inventive, and the teenage drama is entertaining and sympathetic despite, you know, the superpowers and the monsters. Before the MCU, this was the closest thing kids had to seeing themselves as superheroes on the screen, as the show featured a large and diverse cast. Now you can watch a whole bunch of the many, many seasons of the show on Netflix. It was also announced that Netflix will be the home of a forthcoming Power Rangers Cinematic Universe of films and shows spearheaded by Jonathan Entwistle.
The Dragon Prince (2018-present)
Creator: Aaron Ehasz, Justin Richmond,
Cast: Jack DeSena, Paula Burrows, Sasha Rojen
Co-created by Aaron Ehasz, one of the head writers of Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Dragon Prince is the closest we’ve got to a kid-friendly version of The Lord of the Rings. In a high fantasy world where humans and elves have lived in conflict for centuries, a young prince will get a chance to fight for peace when he finds the lost egg of the last dragon king. The animation is breathtaking, and the production design makes you believe you are watching a lived-in world full of history and wonder — and dragons. And the story subverts tired tropes, resulting in one of the best additions to the genre in years.
The Hollow (2018-2020)
Cast: Ashleigh Ball, Connor Parnall, Adrian Petriw
King of a mix between the YA sensibilities and plot of The Maze Runner, with the mythology-building mystery of Lost, Netflix’s The Hollow is a short, unique, and well worth your time. Without saying much about the plot, three kids find themselves in a strange place with their memories erased. Along the way they’ll meet fantastical creatures and use newfound abilities to get to the bottom of where they are, how they got there, and who put them there. It’s a surprising and thrilling binge-watch that actually offers answers to its question by the end.
https://collider.com/best-kids-shows-on-netflix/ Best Kids Shows on Netflix Right Now (August 2023)