8 Literary Shows from the 90s We Loved

Growing up as a bookworm in the 90’s was an exciting time for two reasons. One, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published, and two there were so many great television shows centered around books! Some were informative, others were a little creepy, but either way we’re nostalgic for them just the same. Here are eight literary shows that some of us grew up watching.  

1) Animorphs

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This TV show based off of K.A. Applegate‘s Animorph series followed five teens who are given the power to shape shift into animals in order to save the planet from destruction. Looking back, the show was kind of terrifying at times. Remember when Marco first tried to form into a rat and stopped halfway? That was some nightmare fuel.


2) Wishbone

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What could be better than a Jack Russell Terrier who daydreams about becoming the lead character in different works of classic literature? Not much. Wishbone introduced young kids to timeless works such as Don Quixote and Romeo and Juliet and made it better, because a dog played the main character. It also sparked multiple spin-off book series of Wishbone’s adventures that are based off of classical works. Side note: the show features a young Jensen Ackles from Supernatural, swoon.


3) Arthur

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And I said, “Hey!” Arthur has become of the most beloved children’s series and with good reason. It taught us so much about how to stand up to bullies and how to survive elementary school teachers and homework. Based off of the book series by Marc Brown, the show continues to run today making it the second longest running PBS series, next to Sesame Street of course.


4) Goosebumps

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If you were in the mood for something spooky, Goosebumps was the show for you. Adapted from R.L. Stine‘s 183 volume series, the show only lasted four seasons (which is not enough in our opinion). There are so many great episodes, who can forget the vampire potato in “It Came From Under the Sink,” or young Ryan Gosling (That’s right!) stealing a haunted camera from an abandoned house and cursing his friends? If you could read Goosebumps and watch the TV show without having nightmares, then you’re a real hero.


5) The Secret World of Alex Mack

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One of the more underrated 90’s series was The Secret World of Alex Mack, where normal junior high student Alex is hit by an oncoming truck and covered in a top secret chemical called GC-161. Afterward, she gains crazy superpowers like telekinesis and being able to dissolve into a puddle. Sounds like your average day. But what was great about the show was the novelization of the series that came out with it by Diana G. Gallagher. If you missed an episode, you could have it in book form right on your shelf!


6) The Magic School Bus

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Let’s be honest, who didn’t want to go on a field trip with Ms. Frizzle? Not only was she the coolest teacher ever, but you could go anywhere, literally! Authors, Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan combined their love of school field trips and science to create the children’s book series The Magic School Bus, which spawned the animated show and multiple educational video games. Now, Netflix is rebooting the series with Kate McKinnon voicing Ms. Frizzle. Long live the Friz.


7) Reading Rainbow

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In the spirit of educational television shows, we can’t not mention Reading Rainbow. Hosted by LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow encouraged kids to read by centering each episode around a different book read by a celebrity. At the end, Burton would give the viewers his recommendations for books to look for in their local libraries. It was one of the best television shows about books, but as Burton would say “you don’t have to take my word for it.”


8) Ghostwriter


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One of the great things about 90’s television were the special effects that, while not up to today’s standards, made a show come alive. An excellent example of this is Ghostwriter, a show about a group of friends living in Brooklyn who solve crimes with the help of their invisible friend called Ghostwriter. The ghost communicates with the group through manipulating letters and sentences found in their books, on street signs, and on their computers. The show was made to teach reading and writing skills to kids, along with problem solving skills. Unfortunately it was cancelled after its third season, but we still like to think Ghostwriter is out there, somewhere.  


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