PBS has been teasing a new show for weeks now and my kids are simply going to explode if they don’t get to watch it soon. Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum is a new amazing educational show that will launch on Monday, November 11th. If you’ve ever seen the wildly popular, New York Times bestselling book series, Ordinary People Change the World by author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos, then you’ll already be familiar with the series’ core message that any kid can change the world by learning character-building traits like teamwork, courage and perseverance.
Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum bring Meltzer’s beloved storytelling to life and will take kids on a magical adventure through time, where they will meet historical figures who are facing challenges that they must solve by developing virtues and morals. It’s a pretty great lesson for our kids who live in the social media age of likes and follower counts. This cultural vacuum of missing quality heroes is not lost on Meltzer.
“I was tired of my kids looking at famous people who are famous for being famous and not because of the great things they did,” Meltzer tells Momtastic. “I wanted to give them the kind of hero that promotes kindness and character. We used to say that it was so important to be smart, to grow up and be a smart person but now kids are looking around and seeing social media showing the importance of being liked and popular. I am trying to give kids better heroes.”
The show tags along with Xavier Riddle, his sister Yadina and their friend Brad who go on epic adventures and meet historical figures like Amelia Earhart and Zora Neale Hurston. Each episode has a similar plot theme that presents the trio with a problem that they must solve by going back in time through the Secret Museum to meet historical figures when they were kids. By working together, they figure out how to solve their problems.
Of all the characters, though, the most fascinating is Brad, based entirely on Meltzer, who exhibits what Meltzer calls the “disillusion of averageness.” Little Brad suffers from imposter syndrome and doesn’t fully appreciate or realize his talents and skills, which is the perfect set up for the adventures to help him learn how to build up his own character.
“There is a culture of anxiety that is running through everything right now and our kids see it, they feel it so I wanted to have a character that is the epitome of that,” Meltzer explains to Momtastic. “Brad is so unsure of himself and he suffers from delusions of being average and he worries about not being able to do things like ride a bike without training wheels.”
Luckily for viewers, who may relate to Brad’s feelings of being so unsure of themselves, the trio does a fabulous job of highlighting virtues like kindness, bravery, not giving up, compassion, and self resiliency to name a few. So, where did Meltzer get his inspiration to create such a powerhouse series of books and now a PBS TV series? You might be surprised to know that it all started with some familiar characters that we all know and love.
“When I was five, I watched Sesame Street and Mister Rogers and they taught me to use my own creativity to put some good into the world,” Meltzer says. “Kids understand the difference between right and wrong, and although younger kids may not pick up all of the nuances in a theme, they understand the lessons being taught like the importance of helping one another, the importance of kindness and compassion. When we tested the Helen Keller episode, kids loved it because the main characters were trying to help each other when one of them had a problem. They understand compassion, kids get it.”
Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum premiers on PBS Kids on Monday, November 11th. The first episode will introduce kids to Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver, Helen Keller, Zora Neale Hurston, and Charles Dickens. Check your local listings for times. You check out the Ordinary People Change the World series here.
Check out a clip of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum below.