Mar 6, 2021

Favorite Family Media during a year of the pandemic


Image result for kipo and the age of wonderbeasts 

It's been about a year since our family started staying home full time to stay healthy and stop the spread of COVID-19 the best way we know how.  And in that year, we have consumed a LOT of media as a family -- TV shows, movies, podcasts, apps... I've talked a lot about apps elsewhere, but I don't think I've ever given TV show recommendations and I've only done a few podcast reviews, but those are TOTALLY media and as a librarian, media is my jam, so why not extend recommendations for those as well?  In that spirit, here are my family's favorites from the past year (or so) in the order in which we discovered them:

TV Shows (all animated)

Hilda -- based on a graphic novel series starring a blue haired girl tuned in to the supernatural creatures around her, this was a great adaptation for television. Some of the situations she encounters are genuinely creepy, so if you've got really young kids or kids who are prone to nightmares, pre-watch a few episodes in the middle to make sure your kid can handle them.

Avatar: the last Airbender -- the longest series we watched and probably my kids' favorite, this tells the epic tale of three kids (2 siblings and one friend) trying to save the realm. In this realm, there's a nation for each of the 4 elements -- air, water, earth, fire -- and when the story starts, the Fire Nation has conquered pretty much the entire realm, but then the last Airbender (a person who can wield Air Magic) returns.  This series has a lot of battle scenes and intense action (so again, consider pre-watching a few episodes to make sure your kids can handle it) but also a lot of humor and friendship and even some elements of light romance. This series also has some related graphic novels!

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts --  This one is my personal favorite. Eternally optimistic, pink-haired Kipo explores her post-apocalyptic world, populated by sentient animals. I love how in this show even the most evil antagonists have fully developed storylines that make them into sympathetic characters by the end and while not all of them may change their behaviors at the end of the story, they are all given a chance to do so.  Plus, the illustrations are lush and imaginative and weird and delightful.


The Imagine Neighborhood -- I discovered this one after it won the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award from ALA and my daughter and I both love it! While I normally wouldn't be excited to listen to a kids podcast about socio-emotional learning, these guys have spun together the PERFECT balance of silly characters, ridiculous storylines, music (not "kids" music--stuff you'd hear on the radio) and just enough talk about emotions that we keep wanting to come back and listen again.  We laugh out loud together AND STILL when asked to tell her grandparents what the show was about, she talked about the emotion content, not Princess Donnasaurus or Macho Supreme (two of my favorite characters). 

Discover the Forest -- My family had made big plans to travel to see some National Parks for Spring Break 2020 and although those plans were cancelled, we were able to enjoy "traveling" to some National Parks through this podcast.  I love that this podcast stars a Latino family, complete with Spanish phrases sprinkled throughout and their family dynamic is so joyful (ahhh... something to aspire to when we're all getting on each other's last nerve here at my house). This podcast is only available through a Pinna subscription.

Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest -- Grimm Fairytales retold in podcast form by Adam Gidwitz, author of  A Tale Dark and Grimm and other Grimm retellings. Adam knows his way around 3rd graders and doesn't shy away from the gross, weird elements of the original Grimm fairytales. The podcast is even better than the books because he breaks off to have conversational asides with a class of 3rd graders and get their feedback about the story (which is sometimes the funniest part of the episode). I also appreciate that he ranks each story as "Grimm" "Grimmer" or "Grimmest" so that listeners can choose which stories are best for them to hear and he suggests that if a story starts feeling too intense that they skip ahead 30 seconds until the story is less intense.  These are GREAT self-regulatory suggestions for kids to try out! This podcast is most fully accessed through a Pinna subscription, but some episodes are also available for free on other podcast apps and websites -- search your favorite podcast source to see if you can access it there.

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