By: Frannie Ucciferri

Tired of listening to music in the car? Want to teach your kids instead of having them passively learn? Seven great podcasts for kids preschool and beyond.

Your kid’s new favorite magazine might just be … a podcast? That’s right, Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine are going high-tech, and they’re not alone. They’re joining rebel girls, talking cats and dogs, and even pirate comedians on this list of some of the best podcasts you and your little kids might not be listening to yet.

From toothbrushing tips to fabulous folktales, these fresh podcasts prove without a doubt that audio shows have come into their own. With creative offerings featuring lively narration, original songs, and occasional big-name guest stars, even the youngest listeners can get in on the action. Now road trips and activities that used to be a chore can be transformed into fun, educational experiences for the whole family.

If you’re a podcast newbie, check out 20 Podcasts for Kids, which offers tips for how to listen plus more recommendations for all ages. Otherwise open up your favorite audio app and dive into these age-appropriate picks for preschoolers and little kids.

How to Listen

It can be daunting for a first-timer to enter the world of podcasts, but digital tools have made it easier than ever to start listening. Podcasts are available to stream online or with a “podcatcher,” an app you can download specifically for podcasts. Here are some popular options for listening:

  • Podcasts. The original podcast app (only available for Apple iOS).  FREE!
  • Stitcher Radio for Podcasts. “Stitch” together custom podcast playlists with this mobile app
  • Pocket Casts. A mobile app with a sleek, easy-to-use interface
  • SoundCloud. An online audio-streaming platform for podcasts as well as music (also an app)
  • Podbay.fm. Streaming platform specifically for podcasts (app available for Android, but iOS coming soon)
  • NPR One.  Download content and stream via Bluetooth in your car.  Many of the podcasts below are from NPR content

Once you have your favorite app or website, search its library by topic and start exploring everything from science to sports to movies and more. And don’t forget to subscribe! Subscribing lets the app push new episodes directly to your device as soon as they’re available, so you’ll always have the latest update at your fingertips.

Pros and Cons of Podcasts for Kids

On the plus side, podcasts:

  • Boost learning. With engaging hosts and compelling stories, podcasts can be great tools to teach kids about science, history, ethics, and more. Listening to stories helps kids build vocabulary, improve reading skills, and even become more empathetic.
  • Reduce screen time. With podcasts, families can enjoy the same level of engagement, entertainment, and education as screen-based activities without worrying about staring at a screen.
  • Go anywhere. Podcasts are completely portable. You can listen in the car, on the bus, or in a classroom or even while doing chores around the house.
  • Cost nothing. Podcasts don’t have subscription or download fees, so anyone with internet access can listen and download for free. Most podcatcher apps are free, too.
  • Get two thumbs up from kids! Podcasts are designed to hook kids with music, jokes, compelling stories, and more. Some are designed in a serial format with cliffhangers at the end to get kids to tune back in.

On the downside, podcasts:

  • Play lots of ads. Many podcasts run several minutes of ads at the beginning or end. Because they’re often read by the podcast host, the ads can feel like a hard sell.
  • Can be confusing. Many podcasts update regularly, so you can jump right in and start listening. Others are styled like radio or TV shows, so the most recent episode is actually the end of a season. Check whether something is serialized or long-form before listening to the most recent update.
  • Vary in age-appropriateness. The iTunes Store labels podcasts “Explicit” or “Clean,” but even a “Clean” label doesn’t guarantee kid-friendly content. When in doubt, listen first before sharing with your kids.

Chompers podcast logoChompers
Chompers is a bite-sized, twice-daily podcast meant to encourage kids to brush their teeth for the full dentist-recommended two minutes. Each morning and night, kids can enjoy short quizzes, fun facts, stories, riddles, and jokes, all with gentle reminders to get the front, back, and tops of their teeth. There are even morning cliffhangers to encourage you to come back for your nighttime brush.

Circle Round podcast logoCircle Round
Circle Round is an engaging, gentle storytime podcast aimed at kids. In every episode, narrator Rebecca Sheir tells a lesser-known folktale or story from around the world, helped by a rotating voice cast of talented stage-and-screen actors. The stories are captivating and compelling and nearly always accompanied by a positive message or moral.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls podcast logoGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Rebels of all genders will be enthralled by this podcast, based on the best-selling book by the same name, with inspiring biographies of historical women read by inspiring modern women. These true stories are fascinating bits of history told simply enough that kids will be able to follow them. It’s hard not to feel empowered after listening to a few episodes.

Highlights Hangout podcast logoHighlights Hangout
The minds behind the kids’ podcast Wow in the World have transformed the popular magazine Highlights into a high-energy audio series. Classic favorites from the magazine like “Goofus and Gallant,” “Ask Arizona,” and “Hidden Pictures” (or, in this case, “The Hidden Sounds Game”) are reimagined as variety show segments, cheerfully guided along by hosts Tim and Juanita.

Little Stories for Tiny People podcast logoLittle Stories for Tiny People
The whimsical, soothing stories on this podcast are perfect for preschoolers, but “big people” will appreciate them, too. Host Rhea Pechter’s melodic voice and the recurring cast of animal friends will delight young kids. And the clever, well-crafted stories touch on age-appropriate messages and topics.

 

Story Pirates podcast logoStory Pirates
Nothing can really match a kid’s original story in terms of absurd comedy. And that’s what’s at the heart of this wacky, wild, imaginative podcast. In each episode, the Story Pirates crew — a group of talented improvisers pretending to be pirates — read short stories written and submitted by kids, then reenact them with hilarious results. There are even original songs, famous guest stars, and interviews with the young authors about how it feels to have their work adapted.

This Podcast Has Fleas podcast logoThis Podcast Has Fleas
With a hilarious concept and a fantastic voice cast, This Podcast Has Fleas is a delight for all ages. The premise is that two family pets — an exuberant dog named Waffles and a cool cat named Jones — have dueling podcasts where they talk about what’s going on in the house from their (obviously superior) perspectives. Dog people and cat people will be howling with laughter.

 

About the author

As associate managing editor, Frannie Ucciferri makes sure each of Common Sense Media’s more than 30,000 reviews and 700 curated lists is as complete and comprehensive as possible. Frannie is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in cognitive science and taught a class on her favorite TV show ever, Arrested Development. Her passion for reading and writing is paralleled only by her love of Bay Area sports, especially baseball. When she isn’t playing with her dogs or trying out San Francisco restaurants, you can probably find her watching Pixar moviesParks and Rec, or one of her favorite girl power movies and TV shows.
commonsense2Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.