Podcasts seem to be all the rage lately especially when you consider the fact that so many families and kids have found themselves seeking creative options for things to do during a global pandemic. It makes sense, given that podcasts are easy to access on most any streaming platform, are usually free to listen to, and are an excellent learning or entertainment activity that can even be done anywhere while multitasking.
Let’s geek out for a few minutes on some numbers to get a better idea for who is listening to podcasts. According to recent data from August 2020:
- 1 in 4 kids listen to podcasts, a number that is up 20% from the six months prior to the survey.
Additionally, of these listeners:
- 20% are ages 6-8
- 32% are ages 9-12
- 48% are 13-17 years old
That’s a lot of numbers that essentially reflect the notion that this form of auditory learning is not only on the rise but captivates even the younger generation on topics such as music, world news and politics, business, advice, entertainment, and much more.
In this article, we’ll take you through some of the top-rated and most engaging podcasts that are aimed at teaching children life skills and real-world lessons.
#1 YoungTrep.com (ages 6+)
We are proud to start off with a podcast that is near and dear to our hearts. YoungTrep is our very own podcast hosted by Benjamin Wong, the 14-year old Los Angeles-based host. YoungTrep is the premier podcast for young kids and teen entrepreneurs. Every week, Benjamin Wong will speak to some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs from a 14-year old’s perspective, with diverse voices that will inspire today’s generation of youth to be equipped for the evolving future. “By providing kids with the tools of tomorrow, we can build the future we deserve,” says Benjamin. Adam and Matthew Toren founders of Raising Empowered Kids share that “There is no better time than now to foster confidence, collaboration, and connection through the amazing child-led journey of entrepreneurship.” Released every Tuesday and inspired by podcasts like “How I Built This” and “Kwik Brain”, this podcast fosters a supportive community of ambitious young people. YoungTrep is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other podcast networks.
#2 WhoSmarted (ages 6+)
If you’ve got a super curious child who likes to discover new fun facts about the world, we’ve got a podcast for you! With a great tongue-in-cheek-name that is likely to catch the attention of any kid, ‘Who Smarted” dives into the wonder of fact-digging and information sharing on kid-friendly topics. As mentioned on their website: “From the creators of Brain Games and Brainchild comes Who Smarted? – a podcast that uses humor, storytelling, and interactive games to help answer cool questions and teach kids amazing fun facts about any topic you can think of! We’re on a mission to help kids become even more curious and have fun discovering how the world works.”
#3 But Why? (all ages)
For all of those question-asking, inquisitive kids, the “But Why” podcast takes listener-suggested questions and answers the questions on the podcast. With topics such as “Why do we compete?” and “How are chocolate and coffee made?”, there is something to pique every child’s interest. As their website suggests, “But Why is a show led by you, kids! You ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world.”
#4 Smash, Boom, Best (all ages)
With a catchy name and a fast-paced game style format, “Smash Boom Best” is a podcast the whole family can have fun listening to and playing. A spin off of the popular podcast “Brains On!”, this podcast welcomes the skill of debate and teaches kids critical-thinking and communication skills. The show describes itself as “a debate show for kids and families from the makers of the award-winning podcast, Brains On! Every episode takes two cool things, smashes them together and lets you decide which is best. Our debaters use facts and passion to make their case — teaching listeners how to defend their own opinions along the way.”
#5 This American Life (tweens +)
With effortless and powerful storytelling, “This American Life” has gained its place as a trusted and popular podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass, “This American Life” is now the most downloaded podcast in the United States and combines comedy, news, and intimate stories to weave a compelling storyline. The podcast’s host “does a masterful job of drawing in listeners and weaving together several “acts” or segments on a big, relatable theme.” Teens can get easily hooked along with their parents, but keep in mind that many episodes have mature concepts and language.
#6 EarSnacks (preschool – 7yrs.)
Nothing beats teaching kids life lessons and stories through the use of song and music. Fun and engaging for the whole family, Ear Snacks present topics such as social justice, history, diversity, and social studies in a uniquely entertaining and informative way. Hosted by Andrew and Polly, Ear Snacks is “is a musical podcast for kids about the world. Andrew & Polly and their friends consider music, science, art and culture in a fun-filled family-friendly podcast that parents enjoy and younger kids eat right up.”
#7 KidNuz.org (all ages)
Balanced, relevant, and kid-friendly global news isn’t easy to come by. Enter KidNuz, a podcast that has developed the not-so-secret recipe for keeping kids updated on the world’s important issues and current events. Great for encouraging connection and conversation, KidNuz is proud to say their show offers “Five minutes of today’s top stories, current events, politics, science, entertainment, sports and more — all nonpartisan and age-appropriate.”
#8 Book Club for Kids (8+)
Lauded by The Times of London as one of the “Top 10 Podcasts for Children” in the world, Book Club for Kids celebrates the love of reading and curiosity. Each episode, the podcast features three middle-school aged kids giving insights and thoughts on their favorite book. As a bonus, every episode always includes “an interview with the author, and a celebrity reading.” Kitty Feld is the host of “Book Club for Kids” and keeps the podcast at an easily-digestible 20 minutes long so it holds the attention of both kids and parents.
#9 Flyest Fables (tweens)
With creative, fantastical stories that take kids on a journey to another world, Flyest Fables teaches kids resilience, how to overcome obstacles, and other key life skills that help cultivate emotional intelligence. Kids can listen to the 21st-century style of immersive fables that offer valuable life lessons. According to the website “Themes can be serious (bullying, homelessness) but are handled with sensitivity and remain appropriate for kids. These powerful, modern stories are sure to entertain and provoke meaningful family conversations.”
#10 Wow in the World (all ages)
If you have a science-loving kiddo, or just one who loves to geek out on learning fun facts, “Wow in the World” dives into how the world (and humans) work and presents fun facts and research on topics the whole family will want to learn about. Episodes include “How the Brain Registers Pain”, “How Science and Art Aren’t So Far Apart”, and “Do Rats Even Like Being Tickled?” Additionally, the website for the podcast offers downloadable worksheets that supplement the information and learning from the episodes. Hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas take kids “on a journey away from your screens, inside your brain, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science, technology, and innovation.”
#11 Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl (all ages)
Kids and adults alike will find themselve rockin’ out or chillin’ out to the musical delight presented during this 2 hour podcast. With a mix of new and classic songs, kids are exposed to diverse tunes and music styles and the podcast even features songs in Spanish. Whether listening in the car or while doing chores, this podcast offers family-friendly entertainment and fresh new hits each week. The “Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl” website explains that “Selections are generally high-energy rock, folk, or even punk-inspired songs, but listeners will also hear mellower tunes, as well as hip-hop hits for a well-rounded musical experience.”
#12 Stuff You Should Know (all ages)
If you’re a parent you’ve probably heard of the award-winning book and website HowStuffWorks. This podcast, “Stuff You Should Know”, is a brainchild of the people behind HowStuffWorks and follows the same format of discussing and exploring fun, weird, odd, and just plain amazing facts about everyday things. The key to the success of this podcast is the understanding that humans not only should be continually inquisitive but also lifelong learners. Their website, which features over 1000 episodes in their archives, explains that “Longer episodes and occasional adult topics such as alcohol, war, and politics make this a better choice for older listeners, but hosts Josh and Chuck keep things engaging and manage to make even complex topics relatable”.
#13 Welcome to Night Vale (teens)
The Guardian calls this podcast “A place where a love of the bizarre meets a love of language” and we couldn’t agree more. Styled as if giving community updates for the fictional town of Night Vale, the hosts delivers news and weather updates, police reports, and event updates – all while weaving mysterious and creepy tales to pique the senses. Aimed towards more of the tween and teen crowd, some of the episodes explore darker topics but older kids will likely become hooked on this podcast’s twice-a-month series.
#14 What If World (all ages)
Kids are notorious for asking their “What if…?” questions, which can range from silly to serious. But now there’s a podcast geared towards welcoming these scenarios and questions as well as turning them into whimsical stories that will stimulate the imaginations and minds of kids of all ages. With a mix of absurdity and creativity, host Eric O’Keefe brings levity to the “What if…?” questions we’ve all either asked or have been on the receiving end of.
#15 Short & Curly (7+)
What could be better about teaching kids how to trust their intuition, listen to their conscience, and make healthy choices? A podcast that does this while drawing kids into a fast-based, relevant learning lesson about character-building. “Short and Curly is a podcast that poses and then breaks down complex ethical questions with the help of famous athletes, musicians and clever peer-aged kids, of course” while also managing to inspire kids to be good people and good citizens. Kept at around 25 minutes each episode, Short and Curly gives relatable tips, wisdom, and solid advice for how to navigate some of the most important topics for kids.
With a list like this, you and your kids will have a plethora of diverse and unique podcasts to choose from that aim to instill key life lessons and boost a child’s confidence and understanding of the world.