Keeping in mind that it’s a good idea to still heavily limit screen time for young ones, we’ve listed below the not-so-obvious best TV shows for 7 year olds.
Seven year olds are taking their first steps into the wider world beyond the shelter of preschool and kindergarten. As a wise old wizard once told us, home is in some ways behind them, and the world is ahead. Here are some TV shows that might give your kids stories and companions for those steps into the world of grade school. I’ve tried not to list shows that Nerdy With Children readers may already be familiar with, like Batman: the Animated Series, and instead tried to put a spotlight on great shows that you might not know about. If these shows seem a bit on the younger side for your child, check out our best TV shows for 10-year-olds.
There are 50 hojillion quadrillion Transformers cartoons, and this is the best one. The main Transformers characters are all there, but in Transformers Animated they’re more human than they usually are. Instead of being unstoppable super-soldiers, the heroes in Transformers Animated are the Cybertronian equivalent of a road crew. Washouts from Autobot Academy, they’ve been sent to the least desirable post in the universe: Detroit. The heroes doubt themselves and each other. They’re terrified of Megatron and the other Decepticon villains, as any psychologically healthy life form would be. I like Transformers Animated because, in addition to having 127% of your US recommended daily allowance of robots hitting each other, it establishes characters and tells actual stories with them. The cherry on top is that Townsend Coleman, who was the voice of good-natured blowhard The Tick, provides the voice for good-natured blowhard Sentinel Prime. Speaking of The Tick…
I can’t pretend to be rational or unbiased about The Tick. I read the comic book as a callow youth and got scarily and probably annoyingly enthusiastic about it. The Tick cartoon is entirely faithful to the spirit of the comic. It’s not in any way, shape or form in contact with reality. This is rarely a problem for The Tick himself because he’s huge, superhumanly strong, nigh-invulnerable and, most importantly, has his friend Arthur to sweat the small stuff like living on planet Earth. Every now and then, The Tick sneaks a life lesson in. There’s a great episode centered around the secondary character of Sewer Urchin. In most episodes, Sewer Urchin is out of his depth and is benignly useless. In “The Tick vs. Filth”, the Tick and his friends brave the sewers beneath their hometown of The City, and Sewer Urchin turns into the Batman of subterranean infrastructure. He’s completely in tune with his environment, is a paragon of all the skills the sewer demands and saves the day. If your child loves The Tick, think about introducing them to superhero movies for kids.
Chris and Martin Kratt are zoologists who learn about animals using their ultra-tech ship and
“Creature Power” suits. The Creature Power suits are the best part of the show. They give the Kratt brothers the abilities of whatever animal the suit is designed to look like. The Creature Power suits look a bit like if Tony Stark had felt moved to become Iron Hippopotamus or Iron Shrew instead of Iron Man. I didn’t always watch Wild Kratts closely with my daughter, but I always paid attention during the Creature Suit parts so I could see what this episode’s suits looked like. On the show, the Kratt Brothers and their team face off against a not very threatening rogue’s gallery of villains who try to harm animals somehow. Your kid will pick up a few animal facts and the Kratt Brothers seem like mensches. If your kid liked Go Diego Go! as a toddler, then Wild Kratts is a great show for them to level up to.
I’m not sure that seven-year-olds are going to get all the nuances of Rocky and Bullwinkle, but I love this show so much that I’m going to write about it anyway. Rocky and Bullwinkle are a flying squirrel and a moose who live in Frostbite Falls, MN, and have adventures. The show has a lot of sub-shows contained within it, like Fractured Fairy Tales and Dudley Do-Right, but the moose and squirrel are the main draws. Rocky and Bullwinkle are holy fools. They never come to harm and triumph over Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale because their hearts are pure and their intentions are good. I’m not a TV scholar, but I’m betting that Rocky and Bullwinkle was one of the first, if not the first, kids’ TV shows that also had jokes that only adults would get. There’s crazy action and funny animals for the kids and social satire that still works after 60 years.
A spinoff of Dino Dan, Dino Dana is about a girl who has a “Dino Field Guide” that lets her bring dinosaurs to life using pretty-good-for-the-budget-they-must-be-on computer graphics. The dinosaurs are impressive, but not scary. It’s fun to see how the show imagines dinosaurs in the suburbs, and it’s good for girls to see themselves represented on TV as scientists. Dana observes the dinosaurs wandering around her neighborhood closely, and applies what she learns to her relationships with her family and other areas of her life. Dana’s family is blended and multiracial, which is presented as the unremarkable fact of life that it is.
Chi’s Sweet Home and Chi’s Sweet Adventure are anime based on a manga. Chi is a kitten who comes to live with a young boy named Yohei and his parents. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in Yohei’s apartment! Yohei in his family have to figure out how to take care of Chi while also keeping her hidden from their landlord. Chi and Yohei both have a lot to learn. Chi learns how to be a cat by taking “cat lessons” from an older cat in her neighborhood. Yohei learns all the things you need to do to take care of a cat, like clipping her claws and making sure she has a clean litter box. It’s a gentle, sweet story and it might especially resonate for kids who are getting to know a new pet.
I’m probably exposing how out of touch I am by including We Bare Bears on a list of underrated TV shows for seven year olds, but I’m putting it on here anyway. We Bare Bears is about three bears who are brothers: Grizzz, Ice Bear, and Pan Pan. Grizz is easygoing and let’s just say not terribly detail-oriented. Ice Bear is scarily competent and speaks in a monotone. Pan Pan is a nervous wreck and is of course my favorite. In every episode, the bears try to do some normal thing like fix a vacuum cleaner that they partially-to-completely fail at. The one where Ice Bear drinks too much coffee is hilarious, and my daughter and I refer to it all the time. There are flashbacks to their childhood as homeless bears that make the adult viewer understand that the three of them have probably seen some things. Whatever else they fail at, they succeed at being brothers. They clearly love each other and have one another’s backs.