10 kids podcasts for bedtime, road trips, and non-screen time

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10 kids podcasts for bedtime, road trips, and non-screen time

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Welcome to Small Humans, an ongoing series at Mashable that looks at how to take care of – and deal with – the kids in your life. Because Dr. Spock is nice and all, but it’s 2018 and we have the entire internet to contend with.


Podcasts have been ascendant lately, but you may not want to stream Serial or Dear John during family dinner prep. For Friends of the Pod who are also parents, we’ve got some good news: Your kids haven’t been left out.

Whether you’re looking to reduce the insatiable desire for screen time, get a quiet car on long journeys, or simply want to introduce a different kind of media, podcasts are a great tool to have in your parenting bag of tricks. 

We’ve drawn up a hand-picked list of what we consider to be 10 great podcasts that will help entertain and – maybe – educate kids of all ages. And there may be other benefits to listening to podcasts too. A recent survey published by Kids Listen, a non-profit that champions “high-quality audio content for children” suggested that nearly three quarters of children initiate discussions based on a podcast after listening. 

Our selection covers science, music and stories and comes with a guarantee from us that listening along as a parent won’t drive you bat-shit crazy. These options are all so great, to be honest, that we wouldn’t be surprised if find yourself being edutained in the process… 

1. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

The But Why? podcast has a fun premise – children record questions they’d like answers to, parents send the audio file to the show, and the team behind it group questions into topics and answer them with the help of experts. 

A recent episode looked at the topic of fire and covered a variety of flame-themed queries from kids, such as why firehouses are linked to Dalmatians, why fire is orange, and how smoke alarms work. 

Other topics explained by host Jane Lindholm of late include how the universe was created and why tape is sticky. 

While But Why? can be a little dry at times, it’s a great option for older kids that are curious about the world around them – especially if they get involved and send their own questions in. 

Best for: Ages 6 and up

Schedule: New episodes every other Friday

2. Dream Big

The charming Dream Big podcast is described as a family-friendly podcast inspiring kids (and grown-ups) to “pursue their passions in life and take action to make their dreams a reality.”

With the help of mom Olga, 7-year-old Eva Karpman chats with inspirational figures and offers life advice tailored to children. 

As far as the interviewees go, the Karpmans manage to create an absolutely fascinating mix that has so far ranged from paleontologists, comic book writers, entrepreneurs and astronauts to ultra marathoners, a one-handed concert pianist and a host of impressively big name celebrities. 

Each episode is accompanied by relevant downloads, such as personalizable inspirational quote posters and discussion sheets so you can talk over points raised with your child after listening to the show. 

The format is very easy to listen to, and usually around the 15 to 20 minute mark. We think all kids will get something out of this brilliant podcast, and we’d be very surprised if you as a parent didn’t get something out of it too. 

Best for: Ages 6 and up

Schedule:
New episodes every Monday

3. Book Club for Kids

As the name would suggest, listening to this podcast is just like being in a really friendly book club for kids. This 20-minute podcast is hosted by Kitty Felde, an award-winning public radio journalist who also writes kids books herself. 

Typically, in each episode one book is discussed by different middle schoolers while Felde is joined by the book’s author and a celebrity guest reads excerpts from the book. 

The format is simple and engaging. Parents will love hearing these young readers eloquently, and quite often passionately, discussing literature. 

You can obviously tune in on a weekly basis, or alternatively, as the books covered are available in alphabetical order on the Book Club for Kids website, listen to a corresponding episode as and when your child finishes a title that’s been discussed. 

Best for: Ages 8-12

Schedule: New episodes every other Wednesday, bonus content in between

4. Little Stories for Tiny People

Perfect for younger listeners aged three and up, Little Stories for Tiny People offers quality audio stories for children. 

Remarkably, all the content is completely original from the whimsical mind of the podcast’s creator Rhea Pechter, a passionate advocate of podcasts for kids. 

The stories introduce cute characters like mice, robots, little hedgehogs and baby bears and are written to incorporate themes important to early childhood such as developing empathy, managing friendships and respecting differences. 

As well as creating the charming stories, Pechter performs them brilliantly against a background of enchanting music and fun sound effects. 

Best for: Ages 3 and up

Schedule: New episodes every other week

5. Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child 

Technically, this podcast is actually a stream of a popular radio show broadcast on KUTX 98.9 (and syndicated elsewhere), but it works as an hour-long listen for older children. 

Created and hosted by self-confessed “radio nerd” Bill Childs (assisted by his cool kids Ella and Liam) the show plays “indie music for indie kids” with the hope of creating the next generation of radio nerds. 

It’s music-heavy with a rich and varied playlist of amazing tunes all guaranteed to be kid-friendly. You’ll hear a variety of genres from artists as diverse as Brian Eno, Caspar Babypants, The Ramones, Aretha Franklin and the band behind the show’s theme tune, They Might Be Giants. 

If your child loves music, or you want to encourage them to develop a more diverse taste in all things audio, Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child is a musical education you’ll get something out of too. 

Best for: Ages 6 and up

Schedule: New episodes every Saturday

6. Brains On!

Free, new episodes every Tuesday

Brains On! uses the same cool formula as But Why? – curious kids send in their questions, primarily science- and natural-history-based, and the show gives a light-hearted explainer. 

With fun sound effects that increases engagement levels, friendly host Molly Bloom is joined each week by a co-host and sometimes young listeners to provide the answer behind an everyday mystery. 

Some representative topics: Where farts come from, whether fire or lasers are cooler, the science of slime, and why carnivores don’t have to eat their vegetables.

At minimum, we recommend checking out the “Mystery Sound Extravaganza” episodes. These are fun shows in which kids have to try and guess what user-submitted mystery sounds are. They’re a total blast for kids, and perfect for the podcast format. 

Best for: Ages 6 and up

Schedule: New episodes every Tuesday

7. By Kids, For Kids Story Time 

This South African podcast will give you classic children’s stories with a twist: The tales are all told by children. The lineup includes fairy tales from Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm Brothers, Greek myths like The Fox and the Rooster and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and African folk tales. 

Each episode is typically under ten minutes, so perfect for short car journeys. 

Best for: Ages 6 and up

Schedule: New episodes every week

8. Ear Snacks

Hosted by award-winning musicians Andrew and Polly, who have composed tunes for the likes of Wallykazam! and Sesame Studios, Ear Snacks is a kids’ podcast that is fizzing with fun and energy.

Genuinely great, catchy music is mixed with funny kids’ comments and entertaining guests. Each episode is centered around one topic, such as “hats,” “critters,” or “rain.” Typically, there’s a chat with the children about that topic, which leads into a musical interlude.  

Best for: Ages 2-5

Schedule: New episodes twice a month

9. NPR Wow in the World

Free, new episodes every Monday  

Described as the podcast “for curious kids and their grown-ups” Tinkercast’s weekly episodes will inform and delight inquisitive kids. 

Created and hosted by media veterans (and parents) Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas in order to help “families to put down their screens and look up at the world together,” each roughly 25-minute installment covers one fascinating topic with an emphasis on recent scientific discoveries.

Good quality, fun sound effects, corny jokes, an informal tone and playful banter between the two hosts will keep your kids listening week after week.

Recent episodes have included exploring a variety of interesting subjects including exploding ants, the science of sleep, chili peppers and why they are hot, eyebrows in relation to communication and even how to make ice cream that melts more slowly. 

Best for: Ages 6 and up

Schedule: New episodes every Monday

10. Story Time by Bedtime.fm 

Free, new episodes every two weeks 

Aimed at children aged from two to 13, this podcast is a great option to dip in and out of as you need a bedtime story. 

The modern and fresh stories are age-rated, so not all the content will be suitable for your child, but with a rich archive, and a new story every fortnight, you shouldn’t struggle to find a tale to tempt you. 

Read by various podcasters, all of whom are parents from around the globe, each story is less than 20 minutes long, so perfect for calming little ones down before bed. In fact, with no novelty sound effects, just an emphasis on solid storytelling, this is an ideal podcast to turn to at the end of the day.

Best for: Ages 2 and up. Each story has its own suggested ages.

Schedule: New episodes every two weeks

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