Ready to ditch the screens for a while? We round up the best podcasts for kids of all ages, including news, storytelling, science and music
For all the same reasons that we mamas love podcasts – they’re enlightening, informative, often laugh-out-loud funny, and a great way to deep dive into a subject – there are lots of great podcasts for kids out there, too. Podcasts are great for boosting kids’ listening skills and, just as it’s beneficial for kids to be read to, they can help build vocabulary, language skills and literacy. As psychologist Margaret Paccione explains, listening to podcasts – like books – can stimulate imagination and creativity. Many of the podcasts listed below also happen to address those tough-to-answer questions that kids want to know about, from “What happened to the dinosaurs?” to “Where does poo go when we flush it down the toilet?”
With everyone spending extra time at home during the Circuit Breaker, chances are your kiddos are enjoying a whole lot more screen time than normal. If you want to keep them occupied but are desperate to get their little eyes away from screens for a while, why not set them up in a cosy nook and ask them to just try listening for a while? Older kiddos can of course use headphones, but we find our toddlers are content to curl up on a cushion on the floor and listen to storytime via Spotify on the Google Home speaker! Podcasts can also be pleasant to play in the background while your kiddos color or play with clay; kids from as young as 2 or 3 will generally get something out of them.
Where to find podcasts? iPhone/Apple users can hit up the “podcasts” button on your iPhone or iPad. You can also find all the best podcasts on Spotify. Other popular apps for streaming podcasts include Stitcher, Luminary and Overcast, and you can often stream directly from each podcast’s own website. Happy listening, mamas!
Read on for our top podcasts for kids picks!
But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Kids ask the questions, and host Jane Lindholm does her best to answer them, tackling topics big and small about nature, words, and the world at large.
Sample episodes: “Why Do Baby Teeth Fall Out?”; “Explaining Coronavirus to Kids, and the Science of Soap”; “Do Animals Get Married?”
That’s a long “u” — this popular news podcast for kids boils down each weekday’s top stories, current events, politics, science, entertainment and more into a palatable five minutes. It’s all done in a completely non-partisan, age-appropriate way, and there’s even a fun daily quiz available, too. Think of this as the kid version of The Daily.
Sample episodes: “Fortnite Crown, Flour Power & Voting Today”; “The Nose Knows, Hometown Help & Dr. Fauci Gets His Wish!”; “Oil Glut, Shooting Stars, His Airness”
Pants on Fire
When it comes to teaching kiddos to avoid fake news, sadly you can never start too early. Pants on Fire makes it fun for kids in a game show format, pitting real-life kid contestants against two grown-ups — one a true expert, and the other a dirty rotten liar. Along the way kids learn the importance of asking insightful questions, weighing the evidence in front of them, and sometimes just trusting their gut. There’s a fun weekly quiz, too!
Sample episodes: “Ice Skating”; “Rabbits”; “Cheerleading”; “Soap”
The Squizz Kids
This relatively new Aussie podcast for kids provides an easy-to-digest snapshot of the news designed specifically for 8-to-12-year-olds. In around eight minutes, kids get the rundown on the big news events unfurling around them, all delivered in The Squiz’s signature style, “with positivity, humour and opinion-free.”
Sample episodes: “Coronavirus Q&A with Prime Minister Scott Morrison”; “The Mystery of Kim Jong Un”; “Turtles Take Thailand, and Our New Baking Obsession”
Book Club for Kids
This is a free, 20-minute podcast devoted to middle grade books and readers. Each show features three students discussing a favorite book, along with an interview with the author, and a “celebrity” reading. Each episode includes a long list of other books recommendations from the reviewers’ teachers and classmates, too.
Sample episodes: Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi; On the Come Up by Angie Thomas; The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
Be Calm on Ahway Island
Absolutely perfect for bedtime, this podcast features original short stories for kids. Each episode starts with a guided meditation and contains a positive message. We love that on the website you can search by topic, too, including “Dragon,” “Helping,” “Sharing” and “Empathy.”
Sample episodes: “Astonishing Acorn”; “Silly Bunny”; “Spinning Ideas”; “A Cheerful Day”
Created and produced by parents of young children, Circle Round adapts carefully selected folktales from around the world into sound- and music-rich “radio plays” for kids ages 4 to 10. Episodes are 10-20 minutes long, exploring themes like kindness, persistence and generosity, and conclude with a question or activity to inspire deeper conversation between children and grown-ups. Circle Round has been a big hit with our kiddos on long car rides (not that we’re taking any of those any time soon…)
Sample episodes: “The Treasured Axe”; “The Fallen Sparrow”; “The King and the Cobbler”
Oooh we love the angle of this podcast so much: Re-imagined fairytales where girls take control of their own destinies. You won’t find any damsels in distress or helpless princesses here! Girl Tales features multiple voice actors and professional sound design to create enchanting audio plays. There’s also a “Little Girls Doing Big Things” segment featuring interviews with change-making girls from all over the world who are chasing their dreams.
Sample episodes: “Pip Van Winkle”; “Paula Bunyan”; “The Literate Mermaid”; “Anansi and the Sky Goddess”
What If World
This popular storytelling podcast takes in real questions from kids and turns them into fantastical and wacky stories spun by exuberant host Mr. Eric. What if a tiny dragon lived in my closet? What if there were a never-ending bowl of ice cream? What if cats ruled the world?
Sample episodes: “What if Fred the Dog bought the What-If Mobile?”; “What if everyone wore the same color shoes?”
Kids are invited to submit original stories, which are then turned into a super wacky comedy podcast for ages 3 and up acted out by world-class actors, comedians, improvisers and musicians (John Oliver, Conan O’Brien, and Jon Stewart, to name a few!). The Story Pirates also do live performances and have put out a musical album and middle-grade book series. There’s tons of great content on their website, including the free Creator Club.
Sample episodes: “The Dog That Thought the Sunset was a Ball”; “The Case of the Musical Cinnamon Buns”; “Fun Crazy Weird Hair Store”
Perfect for when your toddler or preschooler is begging you to read them a story, this simple podcast presents an audiobook aimed towards children as young as 2. Each story lasts for about 20 minutes or less.
Sample episodes: “Buffy Bunny and the Magical Adventure”; “Robyn Goes Flying!”; “Peewee’s Kiwi Kristmas”
This family-friendly podcast covers fairytales, folk tales, and more original works. Each story is told with great dynamism, in such an animated manner that kiddos are sure to listen with rapt attention (at least that’s been our experience).
Sample episodes: “Pippo and Poppo Plan a Perfect Prison”; “What You Sow”; “The Very Sick Goblins”
The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified
The idea behind this adventure series sounds totally retro (think old-timey radio sound effects and over-the-top voices) but it’s become a massive hit: follow world-famous radio reporter Eleanor Amplified as she foils devious plots and outwits crafty villains, all in pursuit of the big story. We like the messaging about the importance of truth and accessing information — an important one in this day and age! There are 36 episodes to date, most lasting around 15 minutes each. Eleanor Amplified is geared toward kids ages 8 to 12.
Sample episodes: “The Spanferkel”; “123 Science Street”; “Kale Salad”
In this award-winning podcast for kids with over 100 episodes, a different kid co-host joins in to find answers to questions about the world. The show aims to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history, and is a hit with kids and parents alike!
Sample episodes: “Can you dig to the center of the Earth?”; “Virus Busters: How Scientists are Working to Stop the Coronavirus”; “Do plants have feelings?”
Curious Kid Podcast
Hosts Jacob and 6-year-old Olivia dive into a range of topics primarily covering science and history that seem to come from a particularly kid-centric point of view. As with many of these podcasts for kids, kids are invited to submit their questions to be read on-air.
Sample episodes: “Curious about Diapers”; “Curious about Trampolines”; “Curious about Lightning and Thunder”
In this Australian podcast for kids 4 and up from the ABC, host Brianna Peterson chats to kids and Australia’s leading academics to delve into puzzling questions with an inquisitive mind, along the way examining the science behind each topic in a fun and engaging way.
Sample episodes: “Where does our poo go when we flush it down the toilet?”; “Why do stars twinkle?”; “Why did the dinosaurs die?”
Wow in the World
These thematic episodes take kids on a journey into the wonders of the world around them, looking at science and technology from a distinctly curious, kid-friendly perspective (with plenty of humor thrown in).
Sample episodes: “Ah, BATS!”; “Breakfast with the Continents”; “What’s Slower than Slow?”
Classical Kids Storytime
We love how this podcast delivers world and classical music – from Handel and Tchaikovsky to traditional Chinese and Irish folk music – to kiddos in a fun and accessible manner, through stories! Just in case you’re ok with a little screen time, each podcast also come with accompanying illustrations or a video — think of it as story time with a classical music soundtrack!
Sample episodes: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”; “A Cello Named Pablo”; “The Nutcracker”
This super popular interactive music podcast for kids hosted by a dad and his two children invites kids to sing, dance and play a variety of music-themed games over the course of zany 10-minute episodes. Kids can even add their voices to the digitally-composed theme song! The show is geared toward kids of all ages, particularly from ages 3 to 9.
Sample episodes: “Torte in a Fort”; “Knobs and Faders”; “Less Honking More Singing”
Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl
This weekly two-hour show presents a variety of family music that everyone can enjoy (no wheels on the bus in earshot!). Self-styled as “kindie rock,” it introduces the whole fam to a variety of super cool (but kid-friendly) musical selections spanning rock, folk and even a little bit of punk. You’ll discover dozens of new artists, but keen an eye (ear?) out for appearances by rockers like Rivers Cuomo, Liz Phair, The Flaming Lips and others. The perfect soundtrack to a family board game sesh, we say!
Lead image by Puro Sound Labs