Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Seattle Public Library Shelf Talk Blog and is reprinted here by permission.
When it comes to raising children, the years might be short, but the days and nights can be long, especially in the dark days of a Seattle winter.
Streaming entertainment to the rescue! Through your library card, you can access hundreds of family-friendly films, TV shows and programs, for free, through services such as Hoopla and Kanopy Kids.
It can be overwhelming to sort through the offerings, so we asked Seattle Public Library staff to share some of their favorite family-friendly streaming picks. (Pro tip: You do not have to be a kid to enjoy these.)
In general order of age recommendation, here they are. And if you need to get a library card, go to spl.org/card or to your closest branch library, or call 206-386-4636 to get started.
“Ernest & Celestine”: Based on the classic Belgian book series, this cozy movie takes you deep below snowy cobblestone streets, where a civilization of hardworking mice lives. Celestine the mouse is an artist and a dreamer, and when she nearly ends up as breakfast for a bear named Ernest, the two form an unlikely bond. On Kanopy. Ages 3 and older
“Molly of Denali”: This animated series features Molly Mabray, a curious Alaska Native girl who helps her parents run the Denali Trading Post in the fictional village of Qyah. On Kanopy. Ages 4 and older
“Anastasia”: The award-winning 1997 animated film about the Russian royals features the evil wizard Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd), who puts a hex on the royal Romanovs. Young Anastasia (Meg Ryan) disappears when their palace is overrun. Will she make it back? With Angela Lansbury, John Cusack and Kelsey Grammer. On Hoopla. Rated G; ages 3 and older
“PNB’s Stowell-Sendak ‘Nutcracker’”: The beloved Seattle classic “Nutcracker” from Pacific Northwest Ballet — which “scared a generation of Seattle children,” as one of our staff remembered — is brought to the big screen, with sets by Maurice Sendak. On Hoopla. Ages 4 and older
“Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”: Pee-Wee Herman and his friends have wacky, imaginative fun in his unique playhouse. On Hoopla. Ages 6 and older
“The Point”: Released in 1970 by American songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson, this beloved story follows round-headed Oblio, who is banished from the fantastical kingdom of pointed heads and things for having no point. Read by Ringo Starr. On Hoopla.
“The Secret of Kells”: Steeped in Irish folklore, this Oscar-nominated animated movie is about a boy who lives in a remote medieval outpost that is under siege by barbarian raids. A new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. On Kanopy. Ages 8 and older
“Redwall”: Based on the fantasy books by Brian Jacques, this animated series follows the odyssey of Matthias, a bumbling young mouse destined to be the unlikely hero and great defender of Redwall, the English cathedral that is home to a community of peaceful mice. On Kanopy and Access Video. Ages 8 and older
“Kedi”: An award-winning and fascinating documentary about the hundreds of thousands of cats that have roamed the metropolis of Istanbul freely for thousands of years. In Turkish with English subtitles. On Kanopy. Ages 8 and older
“The Secret of Roan Inish”: Directed by John Sayles, this movie is a classic of magical realism and stunning cinematography. Young Fiona lives with her grandparents in a small fishing village where she begins unraveling mysterious secrets. On Hoopla and Kanopy. Rated PG; ages 8 and older
“A Cat in Paris”: From the animation studio Folimage comes a beautifully hand-drawn caper set in the alleyways of Paris. On Hoopla. Rated PG; ages 9 and older
“Terry Patchett’s Hogfather”: This miniseries adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel chronicles the parallel universe of Discworld on the night before Hogswatch, that special time when the Hogfather delivers presents to the kiddies at the mid-winter festival. On Hoopla. Ages 10 and older
“Inkheart”: What if every time you read aloud, the story came to life? Based on Cornelia Funke’s bestselling children’s novel, this timeless tale centers on a young girl whose father (Brendan Fraser) has a secret ability to bring characters from books to life when he reads them aloud. Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent costar. On Hoopla. Ages 9 and older
“Miss Minoes”: When the cat Miss Minoes is transformed into a young woman, she befriends Tibbe, a shy bumbling cub reporter for the local newspaper. Still recognized as a cat by the neighborhood felines, Miss Minoes organizes a news-gathering service and helps Tibbe as he discovers that the popular chairman of the “Club for Friends of Animals” and factory boss has evil plans. On Kanopy. Ages 10 and older
“Whale Rider”: On the east coast of New Zealand, an 11-year-old girl in a patriarchal New Zealand tribe believes she is destined to be the new chief. But her grandfather Koro is bound by tradition to pick a male leader. Despite her love for Koro, Pai must fight him and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny. On Kanopy. Ages 11 and older
More family-friendly streaming tips:
You can filter for family-friendly titles on both Kanopy (look for the Kanopy Kids button on the top right) and Hoopla (also look for the “Kids” button on the top right).
Access Video also has a “Just for Kids” section; resources include the Books & Stories Brought to Life series. Also check out the Christmas section.
- BookFlix is a digital literacy resource that pairs more than 135 animated stories with a best-selling nonfiction e-book from Scholastic on a similar subject. In Spanish and English.
- As with Bookflix, Kanopy has animated stories, from “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” to classic fairy tales to biographies of icons such as Ella Fitzgerald.
- Hoopla has animated picture books and Weston Woods titles, including Read-Along picture books (similar to BookFlix and Tumblebooks, with titles including “Last Stop on Market Street”).
- Hoopla also has digital comics for kids, including “Avatar the Last Airbender.”
- Find dozens of virtual story times on the SPL Kids’ YouTube channel.
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