Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 1 of 13
Harper Finkle, The Wizards of Waverly Place
Disney Channel fans will be crushed that this is the last season of the show that made Selena Gomez rocket into the spotlight. It's not Gomez that's the true hero on this show, it's her gaudy, mortal best friend who keeps wizards out of trouble. We respect Harper Finkle for her amazingly ridiculous outfits, but include her on the list because she's a prime example of what a good friend should be.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 2 of 13
Sid, Sid the Science Kid
Sid's got questions, and sweet sassy molassy, he's not afraid to ask them. The most inquisitive kid on TV, Sid has the simple mission of wanting to know "everything about everything," science-related or not. With so many childrens shows offering nothing but mental sugar, the science content of Sid the Science Kid and the show's encouragement to question the world is a breath of fresh, intellectually-enriched air.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 3 of 13
Dora Marquez, Dora the Explorer
Dora can be irritating, but she does embody many of the qualities we hope our children develop — a love of learning, an adventurous nature, a multicultural attitude, and maybe even some map-reading skills. A departure from traditional Barbie-esque role models, Dora is far more interested in solving puzzles, playing soccer, and teaching Spanish than winning interest from the opposite sex.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 4 of 13
Ellen DeGeneres, The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Your tiny tikes probably aren't going to be glued to the daytime talk show circuit, but if they happen to walk in on a few minutes of Ellen ... well ... they could do a lot worse. Funny and extraordinarily kind, the first woman to ever come out on national television has made a name for herself through a platform of acceptance and activism. A mixture of pop culture clips, inspirational interviews, and kickass dancing, Ellen's show isn't afraid to address subjects ranging from gay suicide to physical abuse.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 5 of 13
Carly Shay, iCarly
Carly Shay proves that it is indeed possible for a teenager to have a web cam and not take off her clothes in front of it. Since a major point of this show is that the lead character is actively trying to be a role model for the younger set, parents can be assured that their own little ones won't be absorbing negative lessons. iCarly gains particular kudos because with Shay's parents stationed overseas in the U.S. military, the show explores the intricacies of surrogate parents (Shay is essentially being raised by her older brother), the concept of home, and what it means to be a family.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 6 of 13
Big Bird, Sesame Street
The friendliest fowl on television has been a role model for kids for more than 40 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Since 1969, this iconic bumbling bird from Sesame Street has led children through song, dance, poetry, reading, letters, and comedy sketches with cheerful enthusiasm. The show has garnered a boatload of Emmys and currently airs in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 7 of 13
Ty Pennington, Extreme Home Makeover
Pennington and his tear-jerker show get our accolades for rising above the mess of sex, alcohol, and bad behavior that you often find on reality TV. The family-friendly show not only highlights problems actual families across America face, but it also showcases the power of what people can collectively do to fix them. Clean cut and eternally optimistic, Pennington himself is a much-needed reprieve from the Snookis of the world.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 8 of 13
Jamie Oliver, Jamie's Food Revolution
Jamie Oliver wants your child to be healthy, and he's willing to show you how to do it in the tastiest way possible. The mastermind behind Jamie's Food Revolution — a movement and reality show in which Oliver strives to change eating habits for an entire community — the chef and author is, quite literally, trying to save kids one town at a time.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 9 of 13
Sue Heck, The Middle
Axl is the cool one, Brick is the refined one, and Sue is the hopeless dork with one mantra: "Sue Heck does not give up." The middle Heck child has a good heart and an unbreakable resolve to be herself, regardless of the social consequences. She's our hero because she puts her full heart into absolutely everything — whether it's spectacularly failing on the cross-country team or landing a gay man as her first boyfriend — and continues to get up after being knocked down nearly every episode.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 10 of 13
Eric and Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
The Taylors are a beacon of hope that yes, parents can still be cool even after their kids are teenagers. Despite the fact that the now-defunct show clearly isn't for younger audiences, these two earn a spot on our list because they're marital gold for older kids. The Taylors argue, usually respectfully, make up, stick by each other even when they don't want to, and band together no matter what for the sake of those they care for.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 11 of 13
Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls is a great way to remind your kids, especially teens, that hey, it really is okay to like your parents sometimes. Running for seven seasons (now in reruns) and starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, the show centered around the duo's unbelievably close mother-daughter relationship. Quiet but sharp-tongued, Rory Gilmore wins a spot on our list because she's incredibly smart, stands up for herself, and most importantly, she's a poster girl for loving your mom. We dig that.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 12 of 13
Winnie the Pooh, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; My Friends Tigger and Pooh
Pooh is kind of lazy, and he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he is a loyal friend to the end, even to eternal downers like Eeyore. Though both the book and the television character wind up in all kinds of good-natured mischief, Pooh is a master at resolving problems in the gentlest way possible, mediating conflict, and helping the forest return to its peaceful state.
Top 12 TV Role Models for Kids 13 of 13