When my kids were little, I drove them 45 minutes each way to school. It was a bit much. For ALL of us. So, to make the best of a tough situation, we started listening to audio books in the car. Full disclosure - this was about six years before the popularity of Serial exploded the podcasting world.
Rather than being a white-knuckled test of patience, our car rides became an opportunity to be co-adventurers in each wonderful story we listened to. I was able to expose my kids to great (age appropriate) literature that was beyond their reading capabilities and each story became rich fodder for conversations, art making and pretend play.
Come to find out, recent studies have shown that kids display greater imagination and creativity after listening to audio programs AND that listening to audio programs also improves reading comprehension.
Now that podcasts have become so popular, today's lucky parents have a treasure trove of high quality audio content to choose from to spark their kids' imaginations and since I'm a total podcast addict, I have a few to recommend.
Here are seven awesome podcasts for kids:
1 - Story Pirates
The Story Pirates (spoiler alert: they're not ACTUAL pirates, but world-class actors, comedians, improvisers and musicians) adapt stories written by kids into sketch comedy and musical theater. Often the stories devolve into utter silliness but that's what makes this podcast so charmingly entertaining. Bonus: the fact that the stories are written by actual kids might be super inspiring to a young scribe living under YOUR roof!
Every Saturday morning you and your kids can travel back to the glory days of old time radio with these daring, and often funny, adventures that will capture the imagination. With stories ranging from superhero adventures and westerns to mysteries and comedies, this podcast has it all!
3 - Tumble
Tumble is a science podcast that can be enjoyed by the entire family (think RadioLab for kids) . It tackles subjects from geology to dark matter and everything in between. Somehow, it manages to magically explain even the most complex concepts in an easy to understand and entertaining way.
This podcast features "indie music for indie kids" and hails from just east of Rebel Headquarters in the Pioneer Valley of Western Mass. They truly do play "music kids will love and parents won't hate". There's commentary, special requests and kid-friendly music from unlikely artists, like the Ramones and Ella Fitzgerald, and more likely (but equally interesting) artists like Dan Zanes and Moona Luna.
5 - Sparkle Stories
Sparkle Stories holds a very special place in our family's hearts. Founded by friends of friends, Lisabeth and David Sewall McCann, Sparkle Stories is actually a subscription story service and we were among the first generation of subscribers. Their stories are sweet, gentle, full of lessons AND entertaining. I like to think if Mr. Rogers still walked among mere mortals, he would be very, very proud of the work they do which is inspired by a deep love and respect for childhood. The podcast includes one of their subscription stories per week for free.
6 - Kids on Comics
Be forewarned, there don't appear to be any new episodes being produced of this show, but there's 60+ episodes in the archive to work your way through. The Rebel family loves comics and it's super awesome to listen to this father and his two sons offer up their opinions on all things comic.
7 - Muggle Cast
Harry Potter fans hold onto your wands! This podcast dates back to 2010 and has over 100 episodes of conversation, questions, theories and news about ALL OF THE THINGS in the wizarding world.