16 Best Podcasts for Kids Even Adults Will Love
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Get ready to bond with your kids, start some great conversations, and even learn something new yourself!
Kids have loved listening to a good story as long as there have been kids and stories. Their vivid imaginations make them an eager audience. But storytelling isn’t just fun for kids—it’s also good for their brains. Of course, the best children’s books have been engaging kids in this way for centuries, though in 2021, we have another resource at our disposal: the best podcasts for kids. These age-appropriate shows can become a powerful tool for parents, whether they’re looking for the best podcasts for a road trip or the best comedy podcasts or fiction podcasts to listen to at home every week.
“Podcasts are a flexible, screen-free way to inspire kids to use their imaginations,” says Maggie McGuire, a child education expert and the CEO of Pinna, an ad-free subscription podcast app designed for kids ages three to 13. Podcasts also build listening stamina, develop critical thinking, improve vocabulary and comprehension, and increase language fluency, she adds.
But before you dive into the wide world of podcasts, you’ll want a little guidance. After all, sometimes the things that kids are attracted to the most can drive adults up the wall. On this list, however, you’ll find truly compelling content the whole family will love, with podcasts that cover everything from science and history to science fiction and fairy tales. These aren’t just the best options for kids—they’re some of the best podcasts around, and you just might become a fan yourself.
Wow in the World
This hugely popular NPR podcast set the standard for smart-yet-fun kids programming, and it’s easy to see why it’s often ranked as one of the best podcasts for kids. It takes the science and technology news of the day and shares it in a way children can understand and relate to. Whether they’re talking about the importance of bats or why your teeth ache when you eat ice cream, hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas have a knack for picking science stories that kids will find fascinating and that provide great discussion topics for parents. It’s geared toward children ages five to 12.
The Big Fib
Figuring out truth from lies is getting trickier and trickier these days, even for adults. So learning how to weed out deception is a critical skill all kids need to learn as soon as possible. This podcast, which is set up like a game show, makes the process fun by having two “experts” discuss a current topic, like computer hacking or roller coaster safety. Kids then have to decide which person is telling the truth and which is lying. Parents can play along with their children, trying to figure out together what is “fake news” and learn tips on how to identify it in the future. Children of all ages will enjoy the guessing game, but kids ages eight to 14 will get the most out of it.
Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest
This enchanting fairy-tale podcast based around retelling the classic Grimm brothers’ stories, is a favorite of both kids and parents, and it even won the Parents’ Choice Foundation Gold award. Adam Gidwitz, author of A Tale Dark & Grimm, narrates stories that weave together a classroom of witty grade-schoolers and a world full of curious creatures and sneaky foes. He makes old-fashioned fairy tales feel exciting and relevant to modern children of all ages. Story-loving parents and little ones will also enjoy the best audiobooks for families.
Children are natural scientists and adventurers and hosts Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla take their innate curiosity and extend it to real-life scientific dilemmas. A recent episode focused on why kids love foods like chicken nuggets and pizza and what happens in the body when they eat them. It’s all about discovering something new—and how to do it. The scientific process is so neatly woven into the adventures that kids won’t even realize they’re learning (but they are!). This podcast is best for the elementary school set. You can also share these fascinating science facts with them.
This unique podcast features songs and sketches written by children and then acted out by the Story Pirates—a nationally renowned group of comedians, musicians, authors, and teachers. Guest actors, including celebrities like Julie Andrews and Kristen Bell, also make an appearance. Listen to a zany story—like the boy who had a pet ice cube—and then get additional educational and creative content for that story on the website. This podcast has won multiple awards, including the 2020 iHeartRadio Award and the Webby Award for Best Kids and Family Podcast, and it’s ranked as one of the top three kids and family podcasts in the world. Children who are still in their storytelling phase, generally ages three to 12, will love this one.
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In this comedy-adventure podcast, listeners meet Chet Zebrowski, who works at his Grandma Zee’s hotel for superheroes. When trash monsters, glam-rock singers, and static-electric villains invade the hotel (while the “heroes” are on vacation and refuse to help), it’s up to Chet and his superpowered cat Boomer to save the day. This podcast is packed with everything kids love—superheroes, villains, and talking animals—and adults will get a kick out of the laugh-out-loud humor and cliff-hangers. New episodes come out weekly, and the story is currently in season 2.
This podcast is the digital version of what parents have been doing for millennia: telling vivid bedtime tales to their children. The stories are G-rated and selected from a variety of fairy tales, cultural traditions from around the world, and original works. Some are told over a series of episodes, while others are one-offs, so there’s something for every type and age of listener, from toddlers up to teens. Get them excited about reading, too, with these websites with free books for kids.
Kyle’s Wild World
Coming to you straight from his garage recording studio, Kyle, an amateur zoologist, brings the animal kingdom to life with trivia, games, and “interviews” with the animals. There’s even a “guess that animal sound” game. Every episode features a new animal from around the world, ranging from Komodo dragons to termites. Silly, humorous, informative, and interactive, this show is designed for elementary-aged kids, but parents will also learn something new when they listen.
ExtraBlurt and ExtraBlurt Jr.
These two podcasts are set up like an audio game show that the whole family can play together. Episode themes run the gamut from “I Feel Feelings” to “Wild Weather” to “Sharks & Sidekicks” and many more. Listeners are encouraged to shout out answers as hosts Natalie and Ezequiel pose fun-filled challenges and tricky, intriguing trivia questions about all sorts of interesting facts. ExtraBlurt is designed for kids ages eight to 12, while the junior version is for younger kids. The interactive nature makes it a perfect podcast for a family game night or car trip.
The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
Children are attracted to fantasy and science fiction because it stimulates their thirst for adventure, their desire to learn more about their world, and their ability to believe in the fantastical. This serialized adventure, written and performed by author Jonathan Messinger, centers on Finn Caspian, an eight-year-old boy who lives on a space station. He, along with his friends, explore other planets, meet aliens, and solve a mystery before it can destroy their world. With nearly 200 episodes, this one is perfect for binge-listening. There’s also a companion book series. If you’re looking to fill out your little one’s library (and who isn’t?), make sure you have these children’s books everyone should read in their lifetime.
Short & Curly
This Australian podcast for kids is based around questions that are “curly”—Aussie for “difficult to untangle or answer”—that present ethical dilemmas. In each episode, hosts Carl Smith and Molly Daniels pick a different ethics question suited for children and discuss it with a professional ethicist. Recent questions include: “Should humans colonize other planets?” and “Should candy be banned in schools?” School-aged children will get a kick out of thinking through all sides of these sticky subjects in a way that relates to their life now and prepares them for the ethical dilemmas they’ll face as adults in our complicated society.
This very modern podcast carries the spirit of a vintage 1950s radio show, using unique and fun special audio effects and storytelling. It’s based around two children who explore the world using their grandfather’s magical globe, and as actors bring the stories to life, they cover a wide range of kid-friendly topics, including aliens, magic, pets, and homework. This podcast is best suited for children ages four to 12.
The Past & the Curious
History is full of entertaining and interesting stories that have the added bonus of being true. This podcast finds lesser-known adventures from world history and tells them in a funny, entertaining, and informative way. Kids will be delighted, but even the most well-studied adults will likely learn something they didn’t know before. For instance, a recent episode featured the story of Eugene Bullard, a larger-than-life boxer, musician, black fighter pilot, and more. Host Mick Sullivan’s questions provide a great starting point for kids eager to learn more about a particular subject, and he always ends each show with a funny, silly song that your children will be singing for days. This podcast is best for kids in elementary and middle school.
Little Stories for Tiny People
Many of the best podcasts for kids are designed for school-aged children, but this one curates sweet, charming, and beautiful stories just for preschoolers. It originally started as a creative way to help parents do the “tell me a story!” bedtime routine, but it has grown to encompass a wide variety of “anytime” stories, mainly about little animals on big adventures. Each episode is under 30 minutes—the perfect amount of time to get kids settled and ready for dreamland.
“But why?” is every young child’s favorite question—often repeated, sometimes to the annoyance of their parents—and this podcast attempts to answer all of those “whys.” Each episode features a “But why…” question from a curious child listener and then has an adult expert in that field answer it. Recent questions include: “Why do people like to compete?” and “Why is there a robot on Mars?” Kids get accurate and thorough answers in a way they can understand. Parents get a break from answering all the questions.
Budding true crime lovers will get a kick out of this mock-trial podcast. Each episode is about a different “food crime” and the justice (deliciously) served. In Food Court, kids argue their case for a jury of their own peers, who then proclaim a judgment. Kids will love the silly scenarios, and parents can use this as a fun way to talk about fairness, guilt, justice, mercy, and other “big” topics. Kids ages six to 12 will love this one. It might also put you in the mood for one of these true crime podcasts—perfect for listening to after the kids go to bed.
- Maggie McGuire, a child education expert and the CEO of Pinna