Podcasts are part of my everyday life. I listen to podcasts on tech, entertainment, music and politics while cleaning, cooking and driving. And I’m not alone. About 16 million homes in the U.S. identified as “avid podcast fans” in 2016 according to Nielsen, a global media company. In 2020, people have been home more and listening more, with 18% of adults saying they have tuned into podcasts more often since the pandemic, according to media data company Burrelles.
Kids are no exception. In 2020, research firm Ipsos found 1 in 4 kids listened to podcasts. And between February and August, they found a 20% increase in kids tuning in.
Last week, Apple announced it will make it easier for parents to find appropriate podcasts for their kids’ ears. The company is partnering with Common Sense Media, the nonprofit group I’ve long considered the gold standard when it comes to parent recommendations for everything from movies to apps to video games. Now when you head to apple.co/showsforkids, it takes you to a special kids section of the podcasts app with recommendations based on type and kids’ ages.
Listeners can choose from different types of podcasts including “Common Sense Media picks” that are considered all-time family favorites; “One More!” containing action adventure and mystery stories; “Kids Know Best” with shows picked by kids; and “Story Time.” These recommendations are nice since it can be hard to know where to start.
In a Kids Listen survey, 53% of parents say they find out about new podcasts when recommended by a friend. So friends, here are the kids’ podcasts I think you and your kids should try out.
“The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel” from Gen-Z Media is described as “Goonies meets Spy Kids meets Stranger Things” for kids ages 8 to 12. The series is about a boy searching for his missing friends who is led to a mysterious school. Adults and kids do the storytelling here with great voices that aren’t annoying or over-the-top. The sound effects are fun with humor that actually made me giggle a few times. Parents and teachers can purchase scripts for the podcast for kids to read and follow along.
“But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids” from Vermont Public Radio is a podcast where kids submit questions and the hosts answer them. The episodes are usually about 30 minutes long and tackle subjects like what robots are doing on Mars and why sugar is bad for you. Help your child submit a question by recording them asking it in an audio file. Make sure to include your child’s name, age and town and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Circle Round” from WBUR brings folk tales from around the world to life for kids ages 4 to 10. Each episode ends with a prompt to kick off a conversation between kids and parents. They also come with a coloring page WBUR encourages you to print out and have the kids color while listening. Each episode’s script is available online for kids to read along. These stories have fun sound effects, great voices and last about 20 minutes.
“Treasure Island 2020” by BYU Radio and Gen-Z Media is a story about a boy who goes on an adventure with his friends. The 10-episode series has the kids following a treasure map that takes them to a magical time portal. Each episode is about 30 minutes long with lots of voices and sound effects.
“Story Pirates” from Gimlet takes stories written by kids and has professionals (comedians, musicians, authors and teachers) turn them into a podcast. It’s a mix of stories and songs that run about 30 minutes long. The website offers albums and T-shirts available for purchase and offers lesson plans and activities for parents and teachers.
*Chompers” — also from Gimlet — features three-minute episodes designed for teeth-brushing time. There are new morning and night episodes every day (with new themes each week) and they strive to keep kids interested for the amount of time they should brush. Kids will hear jokes, facts, stories and poetry with quick teeth-brushing tips thrown in every now and then.
There are more than 1.75 million podcasts out there, according to Podcast Insights. It’s time to introduce your kids to some of them and even make it a family affair by listening together.