When I was a kid, I had a lot of trouble going to sleep. And with two younger children, my mom didn’t have the time to read out loud to me until I drifted off. That’s why every night I listened to audio books. I drifted away to books like Holes and The Giver, and to authors like Ronald Dahl and Cornelia Funke. While I love reading, audiobooks have a special place in my childhood memories. Now that I’m older, I don’t listen to them as much, but my iPhone is full of podcasts like Radiolab and The Moth. I know that kid-me would have gone bonkers over podcasts, but in the ’90s, we were just getting a desktop computer. Today, there is an entire world of podcasts created for children that adult-me had no clue about.
For instance, I would have loved Bookwink, a podcast that discusses and reviews the latest young adult books. Aimed at kids in grades 3–8, Sonja Cole, who was once a middle school librarian, hosts the three-minute episodes. She reviews all sorts of different books, from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series to heists like Zoobreak to fantasy series like Pendragon. For younger kids who aren’t reading on their own yet, Barefoot Books, a children’s publishing house, has a podcast with an array of classic children’s stories, fairy tales and poems that are read out loud. Stories include “The Little Humpbacked Horse” and the American Indian tale “Grandmother Spider.” It’s perfect for little kids who love being read to—since they like to listen to the same story over and over and over again—luckily a recording won’t tire out.
Additionally, there are podcasts that appeal to science and math enthusiasts. “Brain’s On!” is a science podcast that works to answer all the mysteries of the world. Episodes have cool titles that are sure to get kids hooked into listening—“Cuttlefish: Ultimate Shapeshifters!” and “Volcanoes in Space!” The quirky, eccentric humor of the narrator is both amusing and enlightening. Even I got excited listening about the water cycle and how dinosaurs might have had feathers.
Podcasts are super tools for adult life, making mundane tasks like driving and washing dishes more bearable. But they are also fantastic tools for kid life. They can be listened to anywhere—going to sleep, stuck in the car, rainy days—and they trigger the imagination, since kids have to visualize what they are hearing about.
Check out this list by Podbay to view a huge collection of podcasts for children and families. The catalog includes a Sesame Street podcast, storytelling podcasts and Aesop fairy tales. Suddenly, everyone is looking forward to that two-hour car ride to Grandma’s.
Did You Know?
Children’s podcasts don’t stop at literature, math and science topics. BBC has a children’s podcast series called “Just Think . . .,” which tackles different philosophical questions, such as “Is it ever ok to lie?”