Daniel Tiger is essential television.
Honest to god, if I knew parents who told me they were only going to let their kid watch 20 minutes of TV each day until they were six, I would tell them that Daniel Tiger should fill those 20 minutes. That is how important Daniel Tiger is.
Because Daniel Tiger isn't just a cartoon, it's a parenting tool.
I suppose that's taboo these days, to suggest that television might in some way help with parenting. I know that "screen time" is a supposed to be a problem and that too many of us are letting television raise our children. I don't think that's true, but I will say that if the right television shows are doing the raising, it might not be that big of a deal.
Daniel Tiger is, of course, a character from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. But instead of being a supporting character depicted by a hand puppet, Daniel is the star of his own show, this time as a two dimensional cartoon.
It's worth noting that Daniel isn't 3D computer animation; he's old school. I think I would freak out if they ever made him computer animated.
It's Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood now and he's brought the rest of the gang from the land of make believe with him.
There's a lot to cover as far as setup for the show is concerned, so I'm going to pass the buck and send you to a nice overview of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
There are two essential elements to the world of Daniel Tiger:
- It's fairly diverse given how few characters there are
- Everything ends up in a song
That first point is important in a broad sense, although it's something that show like Sesame Street has embraced for decades. Children's television should reflect the world around them, not perpetuate a myopic view of society.
The fact that Daniel is, well, a tiger helps, because it doesn't give urgency to any one type of person. His school class consists of 2 other animals and 2 humans; Prince Wednesday is a white boy, Miss Elaina is a black girl.
The cast of Daniel's town are diverse, too, Dr. Anna to Music Man Stan to Teacher Harriet. It's also interesting to note how so many of the characters have descriptive names that refer to their occupations. Baker Aker is another.
But while the cast of characters is important as far as creating a healthy worldview, the songs are important when it comes to actually raising your kid.
Yes, I said it: Daniel Tiger can help you raise your kid(s) and there's nothing wrong with that.
There is a Daniel Tiger song for everything your child could ever go through. Okay, that's overstating it, but when it comes to things like going to the doctor, using the potty, getting upset, trying new food, etc. Daniel Tiger and his family have you covered.
Honestly, it's hard to explain how valuable this is unless you have a kid. The songs are short and sweet and easy to repeat so they end up living inside your kid's head...and yours. I will never forget the steps to using the potty: When you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way. That is every difficult step in one little ditty.
Is the world of Daniel Tiger perhaps a bit too cheery and bright? Probably. Are the characters perhaps to pure and innocent? Maybe. But this is a show for little kids and if there's ever a time when too good is okay, it's when you're little. Let them have this time.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood was co-created by Angela Santomero, who also helped created Blue's Clues, Super Why, and Creative Galaxy (as well as Peep and the Big Wide World and The WotWots, but we don't watch those). I started seeing her name so often that I have now come to assume that anything she does must be good. Everything she does also seems to be educational in some way.
I think in my theoretical ranking system for kids' shows, I had Blaze and Paw Patrol in the same tier; Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood would be well above them. It doesn't get much better than this show.