Most of my favourite television shows tend to be those that were originally based on picture books or book series. Why? It's not just book snobbery. The fact is that books are designed for narrative, and the shows follow the same pattern set out by the books. They may be formulaic, they may be repetitive, but they are still based on a narrative structure intended for young children.
Shows created from scratch to entertain or educate preschoolers, on the flip side, are based on certain goals, and always feel a little contrived to me. Somehow, if there even is narrative flow, it is constantly interrupted by other aims, and the narratives never feel natural.
The nice thing is that if your child does watch television, you can bring some of his or her favourite characters to story hour, and nestle them among the other great books you might be reading. Especially for a child who is not naturally very drawn in reading, this can help create what we call "print motivation," or an interest and desire for reading books, by helping make books familiar and tapping into things s/he already likes. (I will say this, though - I am a total snob about books based on TV shows - the quality tends to be very poor, and aimed at marketing rather than narrative. I am a bit of a snob, after all!)
Here are some books that inspired shows we have watched over the last year or two:
Max & Ruby - books by Rosemary Wells
Timothy's School Days - books by Rosemary Wells
Franklin - books by Paulette Bourgeois
Arthur - books by Marc T. Brown
Curious George - books by H.A Rey and Margaret Rey
Rolie Polie Olie - book by William Joyce
George Shrinks - book by William Joyce
Little Princess - books by Tony Ross
The Mole Sisters - books by Roslyn Schwartz
Thomas the Tank Engine - books by Rev. Awdry or Christopher Awdry
Little Miss Spider - books by David Kirk
Clifford, the Big Red Dog - books by Norman Bridwell
Kipper - books by Mick Inkpen
Madeline - books by Ludwig Bemelmans
Dragon - books by Dav Pilkey
Find these and lots more off-tube tales at your local public library!
Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.