Nina’s World debuted on NBC Kids in 2015. It is a spin-off of The Good Night Show, which also features a character named Nina. Nina’s World is gentle and sweet, and offers a bilingual alternative to Dora the Explorer. Nina lives with her parents, who own a bakery, and her spry Abuelita, who takes her on adventures throughout the city. The show also features Tio Javier, Nina’s young, rockstar uncle who sings her favorite songs for her, as well as her imaginary friend Star.
The show is incredibly sweet. Nina is clearly loved, and her parents and Abuelita give her space with which to enjoy her world. I was especially struck by the episode “Nina’s Big Adventure,” in which Nina is disappointed that her Tio Javier is going to Peru without her. To cheer her up, Abuelita Yolie takes her on an adventure around the block, in which they use their imagination to pretend that a puddle is the mighty Nile and the playground equipment are Mayan ruins. In order to help children differentiate what is “real” and what is in Nina’s imagination, the show uses a starkly different animation style, which resembles a child’s drawings. Nina has a rich inner world that is actively encouraged by her family and friends, which helps Nina and, by proxy the viewer, feel safe and secure.
Although Nina’s World is enriched by Nina’s imagination, it is a story grounded in the here and now. Sandy Wax, the president of Sprout Network at the time, told NPR in an interview, “We believe that the real world of today’s kids and families is a very cool and fun place. We don’t believe that we have to be transported to magical kingdoms and castles in order to create a relatable story that really speaks to this generation.” And it’s true that Nina’s World doesn’t need magical kingdoms; she has the magical kingdom of her own imagination.
Nina’s World is lightly educational. It teaches children manners, citizenship, and how to be kind and respectful. Children learn these lessons alongside Nina, who helpfully explains her thinking process along the way. Children will also pick up new Spanish vocabulary, as Spanish and English are spoken interchangeably by the main characters. Helpfully, another character will usually give the viewer context in English, which would allow for seamless, integrated learning.
Overall, Nina’s World is an incredibly gentle show that is perfect for preschoolers who want to join Nina in imaginative adventures, and pick up a little Spanish along the way.