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  • Writer's pictureDan

Books & Shows for the Young


My younger son absolutely loves proclaiming every night as movie night. Now, if only he'd set aside time for reading without his parents nagging him…I guess that's why we know we're not living in a utopia!

So, there are two conundrums…how can we find something to watch the entire family will enjoy, and what about reading time?

Shows for the Fam

Luckily, there are plenty of options out there, especially with streaming. Unfortunately, finding shows everyone can enjoy is a trial. For better or worse, our older son, a tween on the verge of being a teen, rarely will join the family for a movie night. Usually, he'll swoop in to interrupt the proceedings with commentary and a bit of the ultraviolence committed against his little brother before falling back to his room.

One Piece Poster

The latest show the entire family has enjoyed, including the elder son, is Netflix's live-action One Piece. When I first saw the trailers for this excellent anime adaptation, I was reticent to watch it. I mean, it does look rather hokey. But don't be fooled. It's great if you enjoy whimsical fantasy adventures. Best of all, this was a show that kept both the boys interested and out of each other's business. The entire family enjoyed it and eagerly awaits the second season. Highly recommended.

Avatar Poster

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a show that absolutely captured my younger son's imagination. It didn't interest the elder boy, but what can you do? The show doesn't quite have the fun for all ages formula down to perfection like Once Piece does, but my wife and I still enjoyed this one enough for it not to be torture to watch.

It's an action-adventure about a boy destined to save the world and him dealing with the realities of that fate. The storyline particularly appeals to the younger son, as does the straightforward magic system ("bending") based on the elements. Authors interested in writing for children should take note of the plot and world-building.

WWII in Color Poster

I remember watching scads of documentaries about WWII on The History Channel as a child, usually with my father. Nowadays, I don't have access to The History Channel, but there are documentaries out there, such as WWII in Color, on Netflix.

My younger son spent several years wanting to be a soldier. In fact, he wanted to serve in each in each branch of the military. Then, he was going to retire and become a scientist. He was unable to understand the words of his grandfather (a Vietnam combat veteran) that war was something best avoided.

Although his interest in being a soldier has waned, my younger son is still interested in war and is absolutely fascinated by the WWII in Color documentaries on Netflix. These shows do a great job of providing historical lessons and depicting the terrible realities of war.

There is disturbing imagery, but nothing gratuitously gory. My take is that there is nothing wrong with a budding warrior gaining an understanding of what war really means. This show has sparked many conversations about the world, history, and the nature of conflict.

Enough with the shows! What about the books?

My younger son is a reluctant reader but is finally reading at the tippy top of his grade level. Sometimes, we never thought he would get there, but hard work pays off.

Recently, I've noticed two series that excite him. First, probably unsurprising to many parents, he was over the moon to get his hands on the latest Dog Man. I don't know how effective these graphic novels are at getting youngsters reading proficiently, but they spark interest in books. That can only be a good thing.

I Survived Cover

To my pleasant surprise, the younger boy was also chuffed to get his hands on an I Survived book ( about war, of course). These novels are dramatizations of historical events and include large sections regarding the author's research while writing the books. My wife and I read these books with him, and I must admit, they're pretty darn interesting, even for an adult. The stories have a life is stranger than fiction vibe that can inspire conversations about the dramatized historical events.

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