Keep children entertained with these podcasts for kids

By Becky Samford, Publisher Duluth, Norcross, Suwanee, Johns Creek & Peachtree Corners Macaroni Kid and Alexis Robbins - Macaroni Kid Mom July 7, 2024

Wow! It is just too hot to play outside unless you are in a pool! But, are you tired of your kids being glued to their screens? Consider a less controversial form of entertainment: good old-fashioned radio, aka podcasts. If you're a podcast listener yourself, you might be thinking that spoken audio will never entertain your kids. But the best kids' podcasts are more than people just talking—they're more like radio plays, incorporating music, sound effects, and multiple voices to tell absorbing stories your kids will love. I won't go so far as to guarantee you a peaceful afternoon enjoying your tea in silence, but before you resort to endless episodes of TV, give these kids' podcasts a try. Podcasts are free to stream through the podcast app of your choice, such as Spotify, Soundcloud or Apple Podcasts. Here is a list of educational podcasts:

Book Club for Kids Podcast. This podcast is what it sounds like. But unlike the book club you or your partner might be involved with, this club doesn’t make your kids read stuffy old classics. It’s meant for middle-grade kids who can comfortably read chapter books ranging from James and the Giant Peach to YA novels like Beautiful Creatures. Book Club for Kids does release episodes regularly, but your kids can choose which episodes appeal to them most. Maybe they don’t want to read Beautiful Creatures, but they’re really interested in reading Al Capone Does My Shirts. This will empower them to discuss the books they’re reading and learn to enjoy reading outside of the classroom.

Brains On. This science podcast is aimed at kids, though I'll be honest, I've learned plenty from it as well. Brains On is educational—just don't tell your kids that. They'll love learning how insects walk on walls, how to find their way without a compass, and even where poo and pee go when you flush the toilet.

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, all ages. The phrase “But why?” is one a father becomes familiar with quickly. Host Jane Lindholm is here to help foster your kid’s curiosity by tackling questions from the mundane, such as “Why do the leaves change color?” to the kind of complicated: “Who invented words?” The topics are crowd sourced from actual kids who can submit questions using the voice note feature on your phone. So if you ever find yourself in a pickle with a particular subject matter, feel free to delegate.

Dream Big Podcast. The adorable little Eva Karpman is a young Meredith Viera in the making. Joined by her mother, the 7-year-old chats up celebrities, award-winning experts, and trailblazers from all walks of life. Recent episodes include interview subjects like Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena, and Hardcore History host Dan Carlin. Thanks to the sweet mother-daughter tag team, expect for you and your child to hear these thought leaders in a completely fresh light, and to be inspired in the process.

Ear Snacks, 2+. Ever listen to the lyrics of pop songs these days and get scared for what your kid may be retaining? This radical podcast combines informational teaching with an infectious soundtrack, and is the perfect antidote. Award-winning musical duo Andrew & Polly, who have written for Wallykazam! and Sesame Studios, bring their talents and comedy to this podcast which tackles a variety of topics in a way that bridges any age gap.

Earth Rangers: This podcast has a biology slant but makes a good listen for any kids interested in digging in the dirt, learning about animals, or listening to tales of the ecosystems in far-off lands. There are episodes on the jungle, the Arctic, and nearly everything between. Episodes are generally about 15 minutes each and usually tackle a single animal or environment. Earth Ranger is probably best suited to kids who are a little more mature.

Eleanor Amplified Podcast. Eleanor is like Nancy Drew, if Nancy had been a famous radio reporter. Eleanor embodies the best values of journalism while stopping the plots of evil villains in all sorts of dangerous places. Eleanor goes from space to the jungle to Congress. Not only does she empower young girls, but her adventures are also thrilling for the entire family. This podcast skews a little older for kids ages 8 to 12. There are three seasons of this WHYY podcast so far.

This Australian podcast is devoted to showcasing true stories of Australian women. Fierce Girls presents stories about everything from athletes to spies, with the unifying theme of adventurous girls with "guts and spirit." While the stories are all appropriate for kids and not graphic, the hosts don't shy away from telling stories as they happen. In some cases, you might want to listen first to make sure a story is appropriate for your children's maturity level.

Molly of Denali: This eight-episode podcast sets the backstory for the PBS cartoon of the same name. Each episode is about 10 minutes long, and they're sequential, telling the backstory of Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native girl growing up with her parents, family, and friends in Alaska.

Noodle Loaf, this is a musical-themed podcast that is also all about teaching kids about science. It’s not the most mature thing in the world, but if your kids love silly songs and you want them to learn a thing or two, Noodle Loaf is worth its salt. Plus, at about 10-minutes apiece, the time commitment here is pretty low, which, is kind of perfect for the attention span of a pre-schooler. Check it out here.

Peace Out Podcast. This is for all the young yogis in the making. It is never too early to teach your kid to be more mindful, especially given how early the dependency on technology starts these days. Here to help is Peace Out, a short stories podcast for kids from the producers of Story Time that helps children calm down at the end of the day. Each episode takes young listeners through visualizations on basic feelings like jealousy, anxiety, and fear. The visualizations are paired with easy breathing exercises to help prepare everyone for a peaceful bedtime.

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl: Long before our kids got into storytelling podcasts, they loved this weekly two-hour music show released every, ahem, Saturday. And I know what you're thinking: kids' music. But it's really not kids' music, it's just music kids will enjoy. This is also a great way to discover music your kids love that won't drive you crazy. Did you know Walkmen co-songwriter Walter Martin has a fantastic album for children? How about The Verve Pipe? Johnny Cash? All these and more I have discovered through Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl.

Saturday Morning Theatre. Grant Baciocco has spent 10 years working on The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd (see below). He might as well be the Jim Henson of kids podcasts thanks to his other series, Saturday Morning Theatre. Fashioned in the vein of old-time radio broadcasts, the series gives listeners short imaginative adventures featuring superhero tales, westerns, and mysteries. With new episodes appearing about one to three times a month, their catalog runs back to 2013. That’s a lot of Saturdays covered.

Sesame Street Podcast. Get a weekly dose of your kid’s favorite monsters delivered directly to your phone. They teach all the same lessons of friendship, reading, patience, and caring as the classic episodes you know and love, only you can deploy them in the car, at the store, or anywhere else a distraction may be needed. Brought to you by the letter “M,” for “Meltdown!”

Short & Curly. This unfortunately-named podcast teaches kids aged 7 to 12 about ethics, but not about the ethical implications of naming your show after slang for pubic hair. Once you’re past that, the podcast talks to real school kids on difficult topics, such as”‘Is it okay to fight a bully?” and silly topics as “Should pugs exist?” (Short answer: Yes, of course, they should!) But if your kids ask your opinion, it’s your right as a father to say, “Who am I, Immanuel Kant?” (Google it!)

Spare the Rock Spoil the Child. It’s the NPR All Songs Considered of kids’ radio shows, complete with the soothing intro, interjected commentary, special requests, and familiar tunes (like the Schoolhouse Rock smash single “3 is the Magic Number”). Get ready for fresh tunes from They Might Be Giants, and pretty much no one you’ve ever heard of.

Stories Podcast performs a new story every week, drawing from a variety of sources and a variety of styles. There are retellings of classics like Snow White, some folktales, and myths from around the world, as well as original stories. Episodes range from 10 to 20 minutes, with most on the longer side. Everything here is G-rated and safe for all ages.

StoryNory. The podcast home of the popular audiobook site that posts a new kids’ story — classic fairy tales and original poems, myths, and adventures — every week(ish). Previously unknown names like lead storyteller Natasha and original characters Bertie the Frog Prince, Katie the Ordinary Witch, and Astropup will quickly become familiar favorites. Running times can meander beyond 20 minutes, so this podcast uniquely manages to promote both listening skills and sleep.

Story Pirates, ages 4+. It has pirate in the name, which is all my kids needed to hear. Story Pirates is an entertaining mix of stories and fun songs (like "The Bear That Couldn't Disco"). There are some special guest voices you might recognize in some episodes too, like Claire Danes and John Oliver. There's a lot more here than just the podcast, too. If your kids want to go beyond listening, check out the website, which has links to the book series (middle-grade kids), information on live shows, and pirate T-shirts.

Story Time. Love putting your kids to bed, but not always enthused about reading bedtime stories? There’s a kids podcast for that. Story Time is just under 20 minutes, where one original bedtime story is narrated by the soothing British tenor of host Rob Griffiths. The podcast updates about twice a week, but each story is made for the series. That means exclusive, baby! Plus, you probably don’t have a British accent. That’s not an invitation to try.

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian Podcast. You just may find yourself getting caught up in this serialized sci-fi story about the interplanetary adventures of Finn Caspian. There is a reason that this newcomer has jumped to the top of the Kids & Family charts on Apple. The tale begins with 8-year-old Finn, his friends and their pet robots aboard the Famous Marlowe 280 Interplanetary Exploratory Space Station searching for uncharted planets and helping aliens from far-off galaxies. Don’t worry, Ridley Scott had nothing to do with this show; everything is completely PG.

May be a graphic of text that says 'THE PAST THE CURIOUS'

The Past & the Curious, all ages. Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t a kids’ podcast about supercars, and unfortunately, Vin Diesel is not the host. The actual show is pretty great though; featuring comedic actors performing little-known stories from history is a playful manner. Stay tuned for the quiz segment, where you and your little one can face-off for brownie points. Just to be clear, we wouldn’t mind if a Vin Diesel road-tripping podcast became an actual thing.

The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd. There are lots of evil cartoon geniuses that try to take over the world that kids can model themselves after: Dexter, Brain, the creepy kids in Little Einsteins. Add Dr. Floyd to the list. Kids will become obsessed learning how he plans to fend off his nemesis, Dr. Steve, while learning about history in the process. The series is officially wrapped for good, but there are nearly 10 years worth of fun as either giant downloads or you can relive old episodes with week-to-week updates. Just watch out for early-onset megalomania.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Technically, this is a stage production starring comedy nerd idols like Paul F. Tompkins and Busy Phillips with guests ranging from Natalie Morales to Jon Hamm and Patton Oswalt. However, since the actors read and sing from scripts on a bare stage, backed by a six-person orchestra, you miss nothing listening to the podcast. It’s actually meant to replicate an old-timey radio show, so the truly optimal listening experience involves your kid pressing their ear against a clunky wooden box while you frantically pace the room positioning a tin foil antenna. [Note: Contains some strong language you may find inappropriate for very young kids.]

TUDOMP. You grew up on The Goonies, The Explorers, and to lesser extent Stand By Me. And, now that Stranger Things has made these kid-centric adventure stories from the ’80s cool again, it’s time to throw on Blobfish Radio’s new serialized mystery. TUDOMP (as it will one day be acronymed) centers around Mars Patel and his pals who are on a quest to find their missing friends. The series was voted one of the best of 2016, and there’s still no word on season 2, but you can catch up with season 1. Here’s an obvious spoiler, they definitely don’t get stuck in the “upside down” — because nothing is scarier than copyright infringement.

Tumble. All you need to know is that this is basically Radiolab for kids. In each episode, science is brought to life (figuratively, because nobody has that technology yet) through creative stories. Season 2 blasts off with geologist on how we silly humans actually tried to drill to the Earth’s core. Turns out we can’t get past the Earth’s crust, no matter what Hollywood says.

What If World Podcast: There is no question too silly for this storytelling podcast hosted by Mr. Eric O’Keefe. What if sharks had legs? What if a tiny dragon lived in your closet? What if the Seattle Seahawks gave Marshawn Lynch the ball at the end of Super Bowl XLIX? These topics are all fair game, making for an incredibly entertaining listen for parents and kids alike. Regular listeners are even encouraged to call in with their own questions, which are crafted into original stories using fun voices, making for unrelenting ridiculousness.

Wow in the World, ages 4+. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting schooled by NPR’s first podcast for kids. Hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas lead listeners through a conversation around the most incredible kid-friendly news stories of the week. Each episode kicks off with a series of questions about a new amazing scientific discovery or finding, which are answered through comedy and debate. For example, “How long would it take to get to the closest star outside of our solar system?” Congratulations, dads, you no longer need to know everything.

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