Watch Kids’ Cartoons From Around the World


Because not everyone living and growing up in Canada is exactly the same, cartoons shouldn’t all be exactly the same either. This, in essence, is the idea behind the Talespinners Collection, a series of short NFB animation from the early 2000s.

Created for children aged 5 to 9, the Talespinners cartoons use vibrant animation to bring popular stories from a wide range of cultural communities to the screen. Usually 7 or 8 minutes in length, these animation films tackle a vast array of issues – from asthma to immigration and literacy to cultural traditions – in fun, colourful ways.

Gather the little ones and watch them all below:

Asthma Tech, Jonathan Ng, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Young, asthmatic Winston
  • What: He can’t play with the other kids because of his crazy asthma, but one rainy afternoon, his vivid imagination and artistic skills come in very handy.
  • Worthy of mention: Winston’s fabulous bowl haircut, which undulates every time the boy coughs.


Jaime Lo, Small and Shy, Lillian Chan, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Jaime Lo, a shy Chinese-Canadian girl who likes to draw
  • What: Her great creativity helps Jaime Lo cope with the absence of her father, sent to work abroad for a year.
  • Worthy of mention: The hip soundtrack, replete with scratched vinyl samples.


Roses Sing on New Snow, Yuan Zhang, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Maylin, a girl who toils thanklessly day after day at her father’s Chinatown restaurant.
  • What: When a VIP from China tastes one of her dishes, Maylin finally gets the recognition she deserves.
  • Worthy of mention: Beautiful watercolour animation.


The Chinese Violin, Joe Chang, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: A young Chinese girl and her father
  • What: A Chinese violin keeps a family’s hope alive when they first land in Vancouver and struggle to adapt to their new life.
  • Worthy of mention: An honest depiction of the immigration experience, which isn’t always rosy.


Lights for Gita, Michel Vo, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Gita, an 8-year-old girl from Delhi
  • What: An ice-storm ruins Gita’s first Divali party in Canada… or will it?
  • Worthy of mention: Great tabla and sitar soundtrack.


The Girl Who Hated Books, Jo Meuris, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Meena, a young girl who hates books
  • What: When Max the cat accidentally knocks down a huge pile of books, Meena is forced to find out what really happens between the covers.
  • Worthy of mention: Amazing, funny drawings. Bonus points for the 3 blind mice wearing shades.


Mind Me Good Now! , Chris Cormier et Derek Cummings, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Tina and Dalby, a brother and sister living on an island in the blue Caribbean sea
  • What: Returning from market, Tina and Dalby stray from home and end up trapped in the house of a little-boy-eating witch.
  • Worthy of mention: Delicious accents.


The Magic of Anansi, Jamie Mason, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Anansi, the little spider
  • What: Anansi, tired of being snubbed by all the other jungle animals, devises a plan to gain their respect.
  • Worthy of mention: Slick animation, especially the characters of Mr. Tiger and Mr. Snake, the “grumpiest creature in the jungle.”


Christopher Changes His Name, Cilia Sawadogo, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Christopher, a little boy who doesn’t want to be called Christopher anymore
  • What: When Christopher starts changing his name for “better” ones, he stumbles into all sorts of problems he hadn’t seen coming.
  • Worthy of mention: Important topic. As someone who grew up with the name Carolyne in the 1980s, I totally relate.


Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room! , Vincent Gauthier, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Christopher, a little boy who is terribly messy
  • What: Christopher alters his views on cleanliness when his fish in their scummy fishbowl enlist the help of a cockroach to teach him a lesson.
  • Worthy of mention: Cartoon cockroaches. Always fun.


Oma's Quilt, Izabela Bzymek, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Oma and her granddaughter Emily
  • What: Emily, sensing that her grandmother Oma is sad to leave her home to move into a senior’s residence, comes up with an idea to make the transition smoother.
  • Worthy of mention: Quilts!


Tzaritza , Theodore Ushev, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: A little girl who misses her baba, or grandmother
  • What: Back home after a visit with her baba in Bulgaria, a little girl hatches a plan to bring her to Montreal.
  • Worthy of mention: Visually compelling mixed-media animation by the great Theodore Ushev.


Maq and the Spirit of the Woods, Phyllis Grant, Office national du film du Canada

  • Who: Maq, a young Mi’gmaq boy
  • What: Journeying through the woods, Maq meets Mi’gmwesu, a curious traveller who reminds him of what truly matters.
  • Worthy of mention: Beautifully stylized animation by Mi’gmaq artist Phyllis Grant.

Have a favourite? Recognized yourself in one of the films? Let us know in the comments. And if you find out you (or more likely, the kids) just can’t live without these cartoons, you can find them all together on DVD.