Why Can’t We Be Friends?: Book and TV Show Pairings

Reading and watching TV often seem to be made into an either/or. I happen to love both. For me, stories are stories and rather than caring too much about the medium, I’m just looking for good content.  (That’s not true, I’m also looking for the perfect wool sweater and world peace.)

Below you’ll find a pairing section of books and television shows for kids followed by the same for adults.  With the kids shows, Maeve and I actually did some “research” over the past month because she doesn’t watch a lot of them.  This “research” made me remember why we don’t watch a lot of them: most of them are terrible.  Terribly, terribly terrible. Why is it so hard to make a good kids’ show?  That being said, there are some wonderful ones out there and I’m happy to share those along with just a few of the many wonderful picture books coming out this fall.  Those are thankfully not hard to find.

A quick note:  I did a double-take when I saw the recent episode of From the Front Porch was titled Netflix and Read. You’ve likely already listened but, if not, it’s a fun one.  That was now weeks ago, but I’m going ahead with my post because these things always take a lot more time than you think they might (the links alone, gah), plus I think we’re all okay with more book recommendations and TV show recommendations, right?

Links are affiliate and thank you so much for using them, my friends. It means a lot.

Picture Books Paired with Kids’ Shows

  • Kate Messner’s and Christopher Neal’s Over and Under the Rainforest gifted from Chronicle
  • Molly of Denali on Amazon Prime 
    • You might recall that I’m obsessed with Molly of Denali.  It was the first show we really watched with Maeve and it’s a household favorite. I love the kids’ enthusiasm for learning about everything and the Alaskan adventures they go on. Both this book (and others in the series) and the show are brilliant at bringing you into a world you might not be familiar with and teaching you about it in such an immersive and engaging way.  The vibrant colors and the fascinating details of Over and Under the Rainforest make me so happy every time we read it.  Highly recommend both!
  • Flavia Z. Drago’s Gustavo, the Shy Ghost gifted from Candlewick
  • Vampirina on Disney Plus
    • I am not drawn to anything under the category of spooky, but I am fully charmed by both of these.  The story of Gustavo, who wants to make friends with the other monsters, but feels too shy, is so sweet. Our daughter immediately began to memorize it and we love that it’s now given her context for ghosts and The Day of the Dead in a way that’s accessible and not scary. Similarly, when we had Disney Plus for a trial, I decided to randomly check out Vampirina to see if we might watch it and was shocked to find myself really liking it.  It’s playful and cute and the songs are sure to get stuck in your head and we love that all the things that are typically approached with fear are brought to kids in a way that is upbeat and fun.
  • Gaia Cornwall’s Jabari Tries gifted from Candlewick
  • Bluey on Disney Plus
    • The follow-up to the lovely bestseller, Jabari Jumps, makes me happy.  I love the approach to making what you imagine happen and the way that the dad teaches Jabari to handle his frustration.  It’s so well done and definitely one to read often with your kids.  Similarly, the parents on the Australian TV show Bluey have playful learning moments and I’ve been thrilled to see how the show has enriched our daughter’s pretend play. It’s a show that’s so unique and wonderfully carried out, just like this book.
  • Karen Jameson’s and Marc Boutavant’s Woodland Dreams gifted from Chronicle
  • Puffin Rock on Netflix
    • The illustrations in this book are so cozy. I’m very into the cabin pictures at the end, which are the kind of pages I would have spent forever dreaming about as a kid (particularly the idea of a sleeping loft).  The story follows a girl and her dog as they venture through the woods cataloging the animals they see and the rhyme adds a playfulness to the descriptions of each animal. Puffin Rock is a cute, gentle show that we both were immediately charmed by and that I have to confess I look forward to watching probably more than I should. The narrator is Chris O’Dowd, whose seemingly inevitable dryness at points makes me smile, but mostly what I love about this show is how absolutely beautiful it is and the way it teaches you about nature in the most calming way.  I kind of feel like adults could use both of these as de-stressors?
  • Karen Kaufman Orloff’s and Renee Andriani’s Dudley’s Day at Home gifted from Flashlight Press
  • Shaun the Sheep on Netflix and Amazon Prime
    • This book reminds me of Amelia Bedelia with a boy imagining what his dog does all day at home (think along the lines of the phrase “doing his business” interpreted by a kid). My mom was laughing out loud reading it to our daughter.  Shaun the Sheep is a claymation show from the creators of Wallace and Gromit that has no words and is so well done.  It’s very humorous and one that I am always happy to watch.
  • Sherri Duskey Rinker’s and AG Ford’s Construction Site Mission: Demolition! gifted from Chronicle
  • Thomas and Friends on Amazon Prime
    • Okay, I have not seen this show, butttt it seems like vehicles teaching important lessons, which is what the Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site books are all about. This one focuses on working together and working hard and it’s sure to be a hit with any truck lover in your life.  As a non-truck lover myself, I love the rhyme and meter of this one, which makes it a lot of fun to read aloud.
  • Meg Medina’s and Sonia Sanchez’s Evelyn Del Ray is Moving Away gifted from Candlewick
  • Dot on Hulu
    • There is a sweetness and authenticity to both of these that fill me up.  The story of Daniela and Evelyn, her mejor amiga, is so true to that childhood experience of having a friend who’s your other half and the pain of a move.  The illustrations are stunning.  Dot is a Canadian TV show about a curious, tech-savvy little girl and her adventures that we recently discovered and have been enjoying a lot and her imaginative friendship with Hal made me want to connect the two.
  • Kelly Bennett’s and Noah Z. Jones’s Norman: One Amazing Goldfish gifted from Candlewick
  • Peter Vegas’s and Benjamin Chaud’s Scared of the Dark? It’s Really Scared of You gifted from Chronicle
  • Duck Tales on Disney Plus
    • These books are both quirky and fun, just like the reboot of Duck Tales. The sweet and silly approach to the dark and sweet and silly story of a goldfish at a talent show remind me of stories I used to read when I was younger and, while I didn’t watch Duck Tales as a kid, it also brings me back to that time.  There’s a clever element to the humor, while still just being plain fun.
  • Nicola Davies’ and Emily Sutton’s Grow: Secrets of Our DNA gifted from Candlewick
  • Wild Kratts streaming on Amazon Prime
    • This beautiful book is packed with fascinating information in a way that’s easy to follow and just plain lovely.  I know lots of parents are looking for books to help with learning at home and this one would be perfect- you’ll actually want to read it and there is so much in here to discover.  I’m pairing it with the Wild Kratts, two brothers who make learning about animals accessible and always make me want to get Googling, which I consider a success.

Novels and Memoirs Paired with Shows for You

  • Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone
  • Jane the Virgin on Netflix
    • Three generations of women, teen pregnancy, and the ability to take on so many topics in such a deft, moving way.
  • Madhur Jaffrey’s Climbing the Mango Trees
  • Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix
    • Evocative and mouthwatering with wonderful leads.
  • Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf
  • The Boys on Amazon Prime
    • Neither are for the faint of heart, but both are super compelling and with excellent world building.
  • Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
  • Gilmore Girls on Netflix
    • My first thought was The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, which has one of the best settings ever.  I also think dry observational into absurdity humor is really similar to Look Alive Out There and Here For It.  Ultimately, I decided to go with this one because I find this book the most comforting of those choices, and Gilmore Girls is a comfort watch for me.  They both also have leads who love books and can definitely be described as quirky, plus a sweet romance (read: not Rory’s romances, I’m Team Dave).
  • Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age
  • Never Have I Ever on Netflix
    • These are both just flat out smart.  They’re engaging, incredibly authentic, and keep you wanting to turn the pages or let it go into the next episode. Yes, Netflix, I’m still watching.
  • Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang
  • Derry Girls on Netflix
    • Weird. Funny.  Sometimes confusing. Both of these are not for everyone, but the people that they’re for, they’re FOR.
  • Colin Jost’s A Very Punchable Face
  • Superstore on Hulu
    • Just like I was surprised to never have heard of Jost, I started watching Superstore maybe two seasons in and kept wondering why everyone wasn’t talking about it.

What are some of your favorite TV shows or books you’ve read lately? I can try to think of a pairing!


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