This month we are taking a break from our regular book list post and sharing something a little bit different.
Are you into podcasts? Are your kids? If you’re not already, know that there is a whole world FULL of entertaining and educational screen-free media out there just waiting to be discovered.
Podcasts are great to listen to while driving in the car, sitting in a waiting room, or just relaxing together. Basically, any time you (or your child) are in the mood to relax but would rather not stare at a television, tablet, or phone, podcasts provide us with an excellent alternative.
The ten we share below are kid-tested and parent-approved. Please note that while we do our best to summarize them thoroughly, it’s always best to listen with your child (at least for the first episode or two) to make sure it is a good fit for your child.
Without further ado, the podcasts:
Wow in the World
Our all-time favorite seems like a great place to start! Wow in the World is narrated by characters Mindy and Guy Raz (yes, that Guy Raz, formly of NPR’s All Things Considered). Mindy’s completely wacky personality contrasts fantastically with Guy’s hesitant and often nervous one as they ‘test out’ the validity of actual recent scientific studies. Their adventures often include a nosy neighbor, a pigeon named Reggie that gives them rides, and a whole lot of scientific terminology that is explained without talking down to listeners. Even primary-aged children will delight in Wow in the World’s (educational) antics.
What child doesn’t love to listen to stories? Circle Round was created for children ages 4-10, but we think even older kids wouldn't complain when it’s on. Folktales from around the globe are told in an engaging way; kids and their families are encouraged to think about the lessons learned by characters in the tales. Positive character traits are a common theme.
The premise for this podcast is a unique one: kids send in their own stories - fictional, creative tales that only children could dream up. The actors on the show then voice their way through the story, bringing it to life. As you can imagine, the utter absurdity is pretty appealing to young listeners! There are regular cast members, but there are also some big names featured from time to time (Aubrey Plaza, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, and more).
What kid isn’t curious about the world around them? On But Why? kids call in with questions and the creators of the podcast confer with various experts to find answers. So many children call in with questions that are grouped into themes; recent episodes have answered questions about earthquakes, bugs, electricity, trains, gender, and the ocean. Experts provide answers that will engage and fascinate everyone - from very young children to adults.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Based on the best-selling book, each episode highlights the life of a different influential and inspiring woman. Recent episodes celebrate the lives of volcanologist Katia Krafft, flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya, political activists the Mirabal sisters, and wheelchair fencer Bebe Vio. Girls and boys alike will appreciate these riveting and real stories.
Smash Boom Best
Smash Book Best is a debate podcast. Listeners contribute ideas, then a judge listens to two people argue the merits of their ‘side’. Topics are subjects that kids find fascinating. Some recent episodes include Piranhas vs. Venus Fly Traps, Unicorns vs. Dragons, and Rice vs. Noodles. It can be fun to choose a side before starting an episode, then seeing whether or not the arguments presented sway your own opinion. Kids are taught to defend their positions with intelligence and integrity.
The Past and the Curious
From the creators and their mission statement: “History is amazing. The stories from our collective past have the power to transform people today.” Get ready to take a deep dive into some of human history’s most compelling topics. Interested in museums? Learn about America’s first museum, and the art that went missing in another. Curious about early exploration in our nation? Find out how prairie dogs played an interesting role. We especially liked hearing the history of native people not only being honored, but told in an honest, yet kid-appropriate way. This podcast might be a good fit for upper elementary and middle school-aged children, or for some lower elementary children who are particularly fond of history.
Winner of a 2018 Webby award, this amazing podcast presents science and history topics to children and families. In 2017 the show was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation in hopes of studying “the impact of children’s podcasts on science learning and discovery.” (More on that here: https://www.americanpublicmedia.org/kids-science-podcast-brains-on-receives-national-science-foundation-grant/ ) Each week one lucky kid gets to co-host the show and explore a wide variety of incredible topics.
This Podcast has Fleas
This Podcast has Fleas isn’t actually an educational podcast, but it is quite entertaining. Told from the perspective of a dog named Waffles (Emily Lynne) who has started her own podcast (Dog Talk) and Jones the cat (Jay Pharoah) who lives in the same house and also has a podcast (Live From the Litterbox). Start with episode 1 and work your way through the hilarious antics of these two critters, along with other household residents including Mr. Glub, the wise goldfish, voiced by Alec Baldwin.
Pickle aims to present children with ethical dilemmas and let them imagine what they would do in response. For example, if your brother was responsible for the graffiti in the new boys’ bathroom at your school, would you tell on him? All angles are presented, and no clear answer is actually given. Kids get to think, examine rules and consequences, and ponder how they would handle various situations. This podcast would be best for children in elementary (perhaps third grade) and up.
We hope you enjoy discovering some new podcasts, or even trying them out for the first time! We would love to hear what you think of these, or if you have any other favorites you think we should share with families!