Winter closes in and snow and a hastily darkening sky prompt families to cozy-up inside. Keeping us company is audio storytelling—the warm glow of incredible tales, plus educational tidbits for kids. Tune in to these podcasts for all ages.
First time listener on your hands? Try the Yoto Player as a gateway into screen-free, imaginative entertainment. Kids have the power to choose their content by selecting a card and sliding it into the small, portable player. They’ll enjoy collecting cards with a wide selection of stories, music, activities, podcasts, radio, and sound effects. Parents download the Yoto App for setup and settings management. Current content suitable for ages birth to 10.
Looking for Saturday morning cartoon entertainment without the glazed-eye screen stare? Try Story Pirates, created by nationally renowned comedians, musicians, best-selling authors, and teachers. Each episode, the tale-telling team takes stories written by kids and turns them into sketch comedy and songs. Tune in to the yarn about a mouth that ran away, a pancake heist, and a fairy without wings. Kids feeling inspired? Have them write their own story and send it in. Still can’t get enough? Join the Creator Club, where members access interactive events with the hosts, bonus content, and activity guides. Or order a book with titles like Quest for the Crystal Crown, and Stuck in the Stone Age.
Got a little girl who has big dreams? Try Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Packed into 15-ish minutes, each episode unfolds the life stories of extraordinary women like sculptor and abolitionist Edmonia Wildfire Lewis, pianist and immigrant rights activist Tereza Lee, and Colorado’s own Autism awareness activist Dr. Temple Grandin. Simple scoring and sound effects highlight key parts of each story, and though the ideas and historical context are often lofty, the narration is plain-spoken, offering parents opportunities to pause and talk with young listeners about the content. Enjoy bonus five-minute episodes with interviews of the story narrators, who have similar backgrounds as the subjects they tell about.
Seeking something scientific? Try Brains On!, a science podcast for kids, co-hosted by kids across the country. Each week, a different guest joins Molly Bloom to find answers to questions sent in by listeners: “Why do siblings annoy each other?” “How do our brains read?” And, the timely, “How do flu vaccines work?” Kid co-hosts add their flair to help listeners understand, for example, remembering the process of bone hardening (ossification) as an “awesome vacation” for baby bones. Woven into highfalutin lab talk are mystery sounds to guess and songs to dance to. The multi-layer experience is like a trip to a natural science museum—in your mind. Join the Brains On Fan Club to get a free e-newsletter with extra activities.
Tween and Teen Picks
Want to learn a few fancy words while diving into a tale of mischievous street rats? Try Blister & Muck, a wide-ranging mystery following two mismatched rats on a mission to “bamboozle” a mad scientist. Created by Jenny Mason, a children’s author of 15 STEM books, the narration is smart with a wide vocabulary, featuring “words the size of Clydesdales,” as one main character puts it. Late elementary and middle school students building their capacity for following complex stories will appreciate the vivid details and quick dialogue.
Need a few random questions answered about our strange world? Try Radiolab, a show featuring deep-dive journalism, richly produced sound effects, and lively narration. Check out shows on political history, language translation, and a bunch of stories about falling (falling cats that are supposed to land upright, falling water, and falling in love). Get the whole family engaged with Radiolab for Kids.
Tired of rote memorization of dates and facts? Try Stuff You Missed in History Class, a collection of great and strange history brought to the airwaves. Listen and learn about the lesser-known characters behind human happenings, developments, and accomplishments, including Native American Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, pianist Maria Anna Mozart, and pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig. New episodes air Mondays and Wednesdays with a behind-the-scenes mini episode on Fridays and an archived episode on Saturday. Follow on Facebook for “On This Day” tidbits.
Longing to pick a favorite musician’s brain? Try Song Exploder, a podcast that turns the mic back on artists to take apart their songs piece by piece, and share the story behind their creation. Hear how a dream led Billie Eilish and producer Finneas O’Connell to make “Everything I Wanted” in Finneas’s childhood bedroom. Listen to Colorado’s Nathaniel Rateliff tell of dealing with grief while writing “And It’s Still Alright.” Hrishikesh Hirway, creator of The One AM Radio and one-half of the band Moors, hosts and produces. Continue your exploration with the Netflix series, featuring Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dua Lipa, and Ty Dolla $ign.
Got a young person with a powerful heart and voice? Try Adult ISH, a culture, advice, and storytelling project produced by “folks who are almost adults.” Very hip hosts Angela “Merk” Nguyen, 24, and Nygel Turner, also 24, talk imposter syndrome, figuring out how to “stay woke,” and silver linings to the rough stuff of 2020. They’ve pulled in big names to join in, such as Tarriona “Tank” Ball from Tank and the Bangas, YouTube star Tim Chantarangsu, and author adrienne maree brown. Recommended for older teens.