Top 10 Podcasts for Kids (aka Road Trip Survival Tools)
As the end of school nears, many of us are thinking about summer camps, summer plans, and road trips. To help you on your road warrior journeys with kids, I have updated a blog post I did in January on podcasts for kids (aka road trip survival tools). I have added some new favorites to the list, dropped some podcasts that are good in a pinch, but are no longer at the top of our frequently played list, and kept those that continue to be top picks.
A few notes about the podcasts. The top 10 included here are all great and I suspect the adults in your family will enjoy them as well (or at least not be driven mad by them). On a long road trip, podcasts are our family's sanity-saving survival tools. The girls love them and I love their rapt silence as they listen to their favorites. I recommend playing the podcasts with the volume set to fade to the rear speakers so the kids can hear well and the adults can happily converse without interruption in the front seats.
All of these podcast are well-loved, but I did order them from top favorite (1) to 10th favorite (10). As I have girls, ages 6 and 8, some of these are more tailored to girls their ages, but I would say most of these would be of interest to both boys and girls (recommended ages for the individual podcasts are listed after each podcast, when available).
And by the way, podcasts are wonderful not just on road trips. We listen to them in the car all. the. time. They cut down on noise, bickering, boredom, and whining. Car rides in our family = podcasts.
All of the podcasts listed below are free, but some do have a few commercials (we just fast forward through them). You can listen to these podcasts by subscribing and downloading them to your mobile phone (iPhone or Android), or subscribe and listen to them on your computer using iTunes, or at the website links below. If you are new to podcasts, this quick HubSpot article provides simple podcast subscription instructions.
Please note, the following is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.
1. Wow in the World (NPR podcast)
This is the girls' favorite podcast and has been since it premiered last year. Hosts, Guy and Mindy, take listeners on a discovery-filled exploration of the many wows in the world. The podcast, for children ages 5-12, focuses on science, technology, discovery, and inventions. Most episodes are between 10 and 25 minutes long.
Based on the global bestselling book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (now in volumes 1 and 2), Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: The Podcast tells the amazing and inspirational stories of extraordinary women: scientists, authors, athletes, artists.... Learn about what made these women passionate as girls, the challenges they faced, and how their passions transformed our world. Most episodes are 15-20 minutes long (no age recommendation listed). My older daughter loves this podcast and asks for it most frequently, after Wow in the World. While my younger daughter enjoys it, some of the stories might require the attention span of slightly older girls.
This storytelling podcast for kids imagines a "what if" world and tells super silly stories for kids (no specific age range specified) inspired by listeners' "what if?" questions and ideas. A sample story title: "What if unicorns and narwhals had jedi sabers for their horns?" Most stories are under 20-25 minutes long. This is my six-year-old's favorite podcast and her older sister enjoys it as well.
4. Fierce Girls
Similar to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, this podcast focuses on historical women and tells their stories in an engaging and modern way. This podcast highlights the stories of Australian women who were "fierce girls." Most episodes are approximately 15 minutes long (no age recommendation listed).
Both of these are great podcasts for bedtime. I have found that my kids can't really handle regular podcast stories at night as they tend to get revved up, which is the last thing we want. When we found the Peace Out podcast my family enjoyed it so much that we used it with the girls every night at bedtime until we ran out of new episodes. Each individual story lists a different recommended age range, but most stories are for kids between 5-12. These short, "mindfulness stories" guide children through visualization and/or breathing exercises. Most of these engaging, yet meditative stories are less than 10-15 minutes long. Parents, you are forewarned - you may fall asleep too. The only downside to this podcast is that we love it and tend to impatiently await new episodes (episodes are released approximately every 2-4 weeks), but they are certainly always worth the wait.
Another great option for meditative stories for children is the meditation subscription, Calm (#1 App for Mindfulness and Meditation - Received the Apple App Store Best of 2017 Award for "App of the Year"). Calm not only has mindfulness stories for kids, they also have a host of mindfulness stories, guided meditations, and sleep programs for adults as well. They offer a free subscription option, but for unlimited access you have to sign up for a paid subscription. I recently purchased an annual subscription when they were having a sale and have found the $45 to be a very worthwhile investment for the kids and for myself as it has been in daily use (This is not an advertisement and I'm not paid to say this; I simply think this is a great resource that has been helpful to our family). Most Sleep Stories for children vary in length from about 15-30 minutes (no age recommendation provided).
6. The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified (WHYY podcast)
Eleanor Amplified vied closely with Wow in the World for the #1 one spot on this list for a long time. In fact, the only reason I placed it at number six is due to the fact that my girls have listened to all the episodes available (and many episodes multiple times) and are eagerly awaiting a new season. The serial radio adventure story, about an intrepid, investigative radio reporter, Eleanor Amplified, is recommended for kids 8-12, but appropriate for kids of all ages. Episodes are usually 15 minutes or less.
A serialized science-fiction story for kids (recommended for ages 5-10). The story follows Finn Caspian, an "8-year-old boy aboard the Famous Marlowe 280 Interplanetary Exploratory Space Station." Finn and his friends Abigail, Elias and Vale, aka Explorers Troop 301, are on a mission to "explore new planets, help the occasional alien, and solve a mystery that threatens to destroy the Marlowe." Most episodes are 15-20 minutes.
While Eleanor Amplified is great for a quick errand or drop-off trips in the car, these stories are perfect for road trips as they tend to be a bit longer (the longest episodes are around 45 minutes long). There are a lot of episodes available, going back to 2014, and quite a few stories have multiple parts. A full two hours of our December 2017 road trip to Marfa, TX were occupied with the multi-part story, "The Brilliant Firefly." My girls loved it and barely spoke except to ask us to play the next episode. G rated for all ages.
9. Story Time (Bedtime FM)
Another great option for short stories for the car, as well as at home. For kids 2-13. Episodes are usually under 20 minutes long.
10. Short & Curly
An ethics podcast for kids exploring interesting and thought-provoking ideas and questions. A great way to get your kids thinking and talking about thorny topics. Best for kids ages 7-12. Most episodes are less than 20-30 minutes long. My older daughter likes this podcast, but we don't listen to it as often as her younger sister doesn't relate to it as much. If you have older kids, this is a great one.
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