One of the ways we can fight racism is by starting at home, with our own families. Reading books by and about people who don’t look like us or who talk or dress or eat or simply live differently than us is a great way to supplement the conversations we have with our kids about racism. Watching diverse, inclusive TV shows and movies is another.
As I looked at the “Ultimate List of TV Shows for Tweens” that I posted a while back, I had to acknowledge that the show I ranked number one and called our very favorite in the whole wide world (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street) was not diverse or inclusive at all. All the characters are white. And they exist in a small bubble of a world called NORMAL Street. And that could imply that what we see in the life and world of Gortimer Gibbons is what is normal–and anything different than that is not normal.
I don’t know that the creators of Gortimer Gibbons intended that message at all. And I stand behind my statement that it’s a lovely, sweet show. But it’s not the only show we watch, and I intentionally look for and select shows that are much more inclusive and diverse. My girls and I watch several other shows about kids and families and communities whose “normal” looks and sounds a whole lot different from Gortimer’s world. And today I wanted to highlight those.
Live Action Shows
Project MC2: Diverse group of smart girls love STEM subjects and also work as teen spies. Watch on Netflix.
Holly Hobbie: Tweens learn lessons as they grow up in a small town. Holly and her family are white, but her two best friends are people of color. Watch on Hulu.
Knight Squad: Teens go to a special school to learn to be knights. The princess who is secretly attending the school (and her dad, the king) is black. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Odd Squad: Diverse group of kids work for government agency to investigate strange happenings, using math to solve problems. Watch on Amazon Prime.
KC Undercover: High school student who learns her parents are spies and becomes a spy, too. I recently gave this show a thumbs down because the supporting characters are so goofy, either poorly written or acted. (Zendaya, who plays KC, however, is excellent.) I’m not saying this isn’t true, but my girls LOVE this show. And even though the family members are annoying and unrealistic, they love each other and work together. So, how could I not include it on this list? Watch on Disney Plus.
Just Roll With It: A newly blended family learns to “roll with” the changes, both in their family and in the show, where the audience gets to rewrite the script and make the actors do crazy things in the middle of the episode. The dad and son are black; the mom and daughter are white. Watch on Disney Plus.
Sydney to the Max: A widowed dad raising his middle school daughter remembers his own middle school years. Both his childhood best friend (who is a main character) and his late wife were black. Watch on Disney Plus.
Raven’s Home: Raven and her kids live with her best friend and her best friend’s son. Raven and her son get visions of the future. Many wacky hijinks ensue for this unconventional and diverse family. Watch on Disney Plus.
Diary of a Future President: A Cuban-American middle school girl journals about her life, growing up to eventually become the president of the U.S. I’ve only watched the first episode of this show and have heard later episodes have some more mature themes better for older kids. Watch on Disney Plus.
The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia: A teen scientist works for NASA and lives with her football coach uncle. I haven’t watched this show yet, but my understanding is that it’s for older kids as well. Watch on Netflix.
Greenhouse Academy: A diverse group of students at an elite boarding school solve mysteries and fight evil (and, as I understand it from the trailer, do a lot of dating). I haven’t watched this one but it looks good! Watch on Netflix.
Mira, Royal Detective: This brand-new show is about a girl in a fictional land inspired by Indian culture and customes. She’s appointed “royal detective” and solves mysteries for her friends and the royal family. It’s a fun show and already my 6-year-old and I have learned things about Indian culture by watching. Watch on Disney Junior or Disney Now.
The Rocketeer: A little girl, Kit Secord, is given a rocketpack, which she wears as a superhero who fights crime and helps people. Kit is Lebanese-American, and both her friends (and crime-fighting partners) are people of color as well. We like this show a lot! Watch on Disney Junior or Disney Now.
Elena of Avalor: Teen princess lost her parents to an evil sorceress and has to learn how to rule with the help of family, friends, and a lot of magic. Avalor is a fictional land inspired by Latin cultures and folklore. Watch on Disney Plus.
Doc McStuffins: Six-year-old Dottie is a toy doctor who can communicate with toys when wearing her magic stethoscope. She and her family (including her mom, who’s a non-magical doctor) are black. Watch on Disney Plus.
Dora & Friends: The Spanish-speaking adventurer has grown up a little, and is way less annoying in this show. She and her diverse group of friends solve mysteries in a California city. Watch on Amazon Prime with NickHits or on the Nick app.
Handy Manny: Manny Garcia and his talking tools teach about Spanish language and culture; they also work together and fix stuff. I’ve been said for six years that my oldest grew out of this show and my youngest has never gotten into it. Watch on Amazon Prime or on the Nick app.
Nella the Princess Knight: Nella is a biracial princess who’s also a knight. And she has a talking unicorn for a sidekick. Obviously we love this one at my house! Watch on Amazon Prime with Noggin or on the Nick app.
Motown Magic: Ohhhh, I love this one so much! Ben is a young boy who transforms his neighborhood and goes on adventures, armed with a magic paintbrush and Motown songs. The cast is diverse, and Ben’s black, multigenerational family is fun, sweet, and supportive. Watch on Netflix.
Sid the Science Kid: Sid is a curious kid who loves asking questions and figuring out the answers. He also loves singing about how much he loves his mom (his “mom is cool”) every morning, which–I’ll admit–is my favorite part. Sid’s mom is African-American, and his dad is white and Jewish. Watch on Netflix.
Julie’s Greenroom: This is actually a live action show, but it has muppets, so I got confused about how to categorize it. Regardless, I adore it. Julie Andrews and a bunch of diverse muppet kids and guest stars teach theater basics while working on a new show. Watch on Netflix.
The Deep: Watch on Netflix.
Molly of Denali: Molly is a 10-year-old Alaskan Native, and this show is about her adventures with her friends and family. Watch on Amazon Prime with PBS Kids.
The Casagrandes: An 11-year-old adjusts to living with her multigenerational Mexican-American family in a busy neighborhood. Watch on Amazon Prime or on the Nick app.