PBS’s ‘Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum’ Puts Kids Inside History's Greatest Moments

For children, visits to museums are often reserved for special occasions – birthdays, and school field trips. PBS Kids is giving young history buffs a chance to visit a museum every day with their new animated series.  “Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum,” premiering on November 11, allows kids that chance. 

Based on author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos’s New York Times best-selling children’s book series, Ordinary People Change the World, this adventure series⁠ will debut with five episodes that follow Xavier, his little sister, Yadira, and their friend Brad, who meet famous historical figures and team up with them to solve programs and learn about the challenges the heroes faced along the way. 

The first episodes of the series will feature the pint-sized versions of George Washington Carver, Charles Dickens, Amelia Earhart, Zora Neale Hurston, and Helen Keller, with input from some of their estates—another victory in the quest to inspire children to be great. The single most unique thing about the series is the direct involvement in the storytelling for the families of the historical figures themselves.

More modern everyday heroes are coming up in episodes as well, including Neil Armstrong, Amelia Earhart, and Thurgood Marshall, whose son contributed to his father’s episode. 

One such hero proud to be featured in an episode is Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee.  Kersee will be featured in a “XAVIER” special episode where Yadina, who wants to be President of the United States, goes back in time to meet inspiring women who were the first to accomplish amazing feats in their field.  The idea helps kids learn that any goal can be reached and with any good story, children love to learn about new things and meet people who have more in common with them than they realize. 

“I think what we want as readers is, we just want a good story, and that's our goal in the show is to give you that look where you can see that person as a human being,” said Meltzer. “That's the secret sauce in this.  It's not that they were famous or they won other medals, but what we can all relate to, that we all know what it's like whether you like Dr. King or Rosa Parks or Jackie, all of us anyone you look up to have moments where they were scared and they were terrified, and they didn't let it stop them.  They kept going forward. What the show does so beautifully is it always finds that moment when they were a kid, when that hero's a kid, and we show you that moment.  Because the kids don't know.  They have no idea who Amelia Earhart is.  They have no idea who Jackie is, they have no idea who anyone is.  George Washington they may know.  Abraham Lincoln they may know, but otherwise, they don't know anybody.  But when they see that they had a problem that was just like them…that person is their best friend.”

The series premieres Monday, November 11 on PBS.

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