They’re a little “loud” for my taste (I prefer a more Mr. Rogersesque vibe in my children’s media), but I have to admit, they’re pretty entertaining and they do a good job of teaching scripture stories.
I haven’t found any material or lessons I find objectionable, and many have surprised me with how much I appreciate the lessons taught. For example, An Easter Carol confronts the evils of consumerism and commercialization of sacred holidays, without going so far into zealotry the other direction that it makes me uncomfortable. Madame Blueberry is a full frontal assault on the idea that material things make us happy, even not-so-subtly sending up Wal-Mart. And Sweetpea Beauty is a perhaps cliche, but still much needed, reminder for girls that beauty on the inside is what matters.
This Christmas season, I particularly liked Saint Nicholas: Lesson in Joyful Giving, which teaches about a possible true origin of Santa Claus mythology, again without going too far and ruining any Christmas fun for our Santa-believing children. I see this movie as the beginning of a soft landing for them on the issue.
All of the Bible story editions are well done and make very thorough understanding of the stories accessible to children. My only complaint would be that their use of modified names for the main characters sometimes causes confusion or silliness when we subsequently cover the stories in family scripture study. For example, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in veggie form become Rack, Shack and Benny. Update: Ok, my take on the Veggie Tales approach to scripture stories clearly requires more elaboration. (h/t mmiles and Dave Black for the prompting) It cannot be said that Veggie Tales will leave children with a detailed understanding of any scripture story. Here I distinguish between thorough and detailed in a way that should be familiar to any Mormons who are used to correlated style lessons where a coherent how-does-this-relate-to-me message is extracted from each story. I think Veggie Tales does the same thing, and does it well, yielding a thorough understanding of the message behind the story. However, it does this with not only changed names, but many details of the story changed. Sometimes I try to be bothered by this, but ultimately yield to two things. First, from childhood I was raised with a more allegorical approach to OT stories than perhaps most LDS kids, so changing details while retaining the message doesn’t bother me as much as it might bother some. Second, while it’s true that sometimes our scripture study sessions get silly and distracted while kids fixate on the Veggie version, I do like that their brains are engaged and that they have an initial reason to care about the topic. Engaged silliness that can be redirected beats total disengagement any day. /Update
Maybe it reveals some anti-evangelical or anti-mainline Christian bigotry on my part, but I really expected to hate the videos. (Or perhaps because they were most earnestly recommended to me by an irritating, thoroughly out-of-line, home repairman a few years back.) In any case, especially given that they are available for streaming on Netflix, I am a reluctantly converted fan. Any other fans, or any foes, out there? Is there any other mainline Christian children’s media I have been unduly prejudicing and missing out on all these years?