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Reading Rainbow on YouTube

Revisit childhood favorites for free!

Today’s children’s shows and movies are so violent and filled with action-packed, nonstop movement that it’s no wonder kids can’t sit still for five minutes, have trouble concentrating, and constantly need more stimulation. Fight scene! Car chase! Battle again! Monster fight! There are no pauses between this constant action—yet parents allow their children to sit through this mind-numbing sequence over and over again, then choose to medicate said children when they’re not getting this constant stimulation and are unable to focus.

Couple this with the unnatural setting of school, where kids must sit still for hours on end and receive very little physical play and outdoor movement—things that all mammals need to learn and grow—and you’ve got some pretty unhappy, even harmful, childhoods on your hands.

You can argue that children received these same things since the dawn of time and storytellers (think Beowulf and fairytales with their grisly endings), but those were not images—they were stories that allowed them to use their imaginations. They are two completely different entities.

With this in mind, I have been searching for some gentler, yet engaging shows for my daughter when she wants to watch media. I don’t think it’s good for children to watch more than half an hour of programming a day, no matter what it is (they often get that or more in school as it is; I remember one science class where we watched videos for weeks!), so something that’s about half an hour, or even forty-five minutes, would be ideal.

So far I’ve rediscovered some of my own gentle childhood favorites online that she’s really enjoying. One of these is David the Gnome, a fabulous cartoon about a gnome who tended to forest animals who were hurt; another is Reading Rainbow, an award-winning television show in which you learn about a theme, read a book together, and hear from other children about other books that they enjoy. Both of these programs can be found on YouTube for free!

I would suggest watching these films all of the way through before showing them to your children, if only for the fact that sometimes people upload offensive content under the guise of something intended for children. You can also determine if the quality is good or not. Then just blow the video up to the full screen and voila—instant classic, gentle entertainment for your family to enjoy.