I’ve long been a fan of podcasts. From the original Serial craze to harkening back to the days of new episodes of Car Talk (which, from a modern standpoint, should count as a podcast since I accessed it by streaming), a good audio story delivered well is hard to beat for long car rides and boring chores.
Recently my kids were driving me crazy with their backseat bickering. Driving precious cargo around is anxiety producing enough without adding a mediation session in. I decided to share my love of podcasts with them by finding a kid friendly one- and I truly lucked out, because it worked. Backseat bickering has drastically decreased and they beg to listen to their favorite shows (and participate by sending their own questions in!). Bonus- these shows are well produced and entertaining for adults, and they’re educational to boot. I’ve learned quite a bit myself!
I listen to all these podcasts on the NPR One app or in your favorite podcast app (I am old and low tech apparently, so I use NPR or the Podcast app that came with my iPhone.)
Best Podcasts for Kids
- But Why from Vermont Public Radio tops our favorites list. This show takes questions from curious kids, finds experts to answer it at kid level, and explores the topic. I find myself picking up interesting factoids, and its made my kids more observant of the world around them. About once I week I hear them say, “I have a question for curious kids” (this is what they call it!). It’s fun to learn together in an interesting way. The hardest part is having them agree on which episode they want.
- Earth Rangers had a guest spot on But Why, which is how we discovered them. All about animals, this fun podcast explores the animal kingdom in a fun, kid friendly format.
- Book Club for Kids is on my list to check out. It sounds right up my alley, as I am totally and completely obsessed with books and read across all age ranges, from picture books to YA to Teen to general adult fiction and beyond. With author interviews and book discussions, I can’t wait to find one that has books in my kids’ age ranges to give a listen!
Best Podcasts for Adults
Maybe you have a bit of a commute and you’re looking for something interesting you can listen to solo. Some of these are definitely headphones podcasts or no-kids-in-the-car podcasts. Not safe for little ears! Some are the kind of news radio type things they’d naturally tune out, so give them a listen in private and then decide for yourself what’s best.
- Serial- This podcast really put podcasts on the map, so to speak. It’s the first one I heard everyone talking about like it was the latest hit TV show. Now it has three complete seasons, and the investigative journalism and storytelling format come together perfectly to weave an entertaining and thought provoking piece.
- S-Town has a slightly mysterious slant like Serial, with a reporter following a story and investigating. I was enthralled and addicted and binge-listened over the course of a few days.
- Planet Money is the podcast I fangirl over the most. I’m obsessed. I listen to it all the time, from those rare solo car rides by myself to while I’m doing the dishes. It’s not generally inappropriate for kids, and if there are curse words or risqué content, they issue a warning about it before the episode starts. While each episode is economics related, it’s so entertainingly done and well executed that it doesn’t feel like an economics show! Which is a weird thing to say, but I never thought I had the best grasp on economics and I’m obsessed with this show. It’s funny, interesting, and I learn new and interesting things. Honestly, I daydream about somehow getting a job there because I love it so much I want to be a part of it, and what better barometer for a good podcast could there be?
- Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me is the humor we need. This hilarious news quiz makes me laugh so hard I cry. It’s relevant and makes you test your knowledge, but in such a fun and lighthearted way. The world is a crazy place to be right now, and this show adds some levity to the heavy situations we find ourselves in. I don’t know who thought, hey, let’s have comedians answer questions about the weekly news and play games, but I’m so thankful they did and we got this show as a reward for living in this chaotic time.
- NPR Life Kit is the adulting 101 class we need. Kidding! Mostly. Honestly, it handles some really difficult topics and provides timely advice on how to address them. From talking about race with kids (which we listened to with our kids) to how to manage the Santa/Tooth Fairy thing. It’s great information but with personal anecdotes and theories that makes you realize whatever you’re struggling with, it’s totally normal. While the photo I chose is their parenting series, they also have other great topics including health.
- For the Love with Jen Hatmaker features beloved author Jen Hatmaker interviewing other amazing people we either already know about or need to know about. From serious issues to book talk to everything under the sun, this podcast is guaranteed to make you laugh at least once while fantasizing about being Jen’s BFF (wait, is that just me?!)