There has been an explosion of new shows for children in the past year. Here are 30 of the best for kids between 6 and 10.
During the first surreal week of lockdown in mid-March last year, I was anxiety-scrolling through Instagram late at night when a message appeared from my former boss. It was a screenshot of an Instagram Story from my favorite celebrity mom, Kristen Bell, who had posted a recommendation for the podcast I co-host with my husband, “Tumble Science Podcast for Kids.”
“Holy forking shirt balls,” I wrote back, echoing a line from Bell’s character on “The Good Place.”
That week, “Tumble’s” downloads spiked by 40 percent. I jokingly called it “The Bell Curve” (even though it was more of a vertical slope), but then other podcasts started reporting similar trends. In January, for instance, “Wow in the World,” NPR’s podcast for kids, reported that their downloads had increased by 94 percent since last March.
As schools shut down and kids found themselves with endless hours of downtime during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, parents were desperate for screen-free forms of entertainment. The result was an explosion of new listeners, and new shows.
One year ago, I developed a popular list of podcasts for kids between ages 2 and 6. Now, I’m expanding that list to include offerings for older children between 6 and 10. The main appeal of podcasts for kids is the same as it is for adults — they’re fun and interesting to listen to. But according to Monica Brady-Myerov, founder and chief executive of Listenwise, an educational website that helps students build listening skills, there may also be a hidden educational benefit.
“You’re hearing all these great words and stories and sentences,” she said. “Whether kids know it or not, when they’re listening to a podcast they’re getting these critical listening skills.” And listening comprehension, in turn, has been shown to be a critical factor for kids who are learning to read.
This list is long, but it is by no means exhaustive. (And if you read my list for younger kids, you might notice some overlap — older kids will enjoy many of the same shows as younger ones.)
As kids age, though, they may be ready to try something different. Here’s where to start.
“The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian” — The makers of this podcast describe it as a “mystery gang” story that is “like ‘Scooby-Doo’ meets ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ in space.” There are nearly 200 episodes of space adventure to get lost in.
“Eleanor Amplified” — Evil villains are no match for intrepid radio reporter, Eleanor Amplified. Two-hour-long “road trip” versions of each season make for handy long-haul listening.
“Six Minutes” — This drama gets its name from its episode length. An 11-year-old girl has been pulled out of icy waters off the coast of Alaska, and each bite-size episode reveals the mystery of how she got there.
“The Super Secret Hive” — A cast of quirky characters embark on a series of missions to save the world from environmental crises, mental health issues and more. It’s like a Disney musical in podcast form.
“The Punies” — Before he died, Kobe Bryant created this tale of a ragtag sports team that tries a variety of sports — like baseball, basketball and tennis — and imparts life lessons, like how to learn from failure.
“The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel” — A Peabody Award winning series about students who keep disappearing from the H.G. Wells Middle School. This podcast is recommended for the older end of this age range (8 to 12).
“Hank the Cowdog” — Matthew McConaughey, who stars in and executive produced this podcast, brings his swagger to this adaptation of the humorous children’s mystery novels of the same name. He plays Hank, a know-it all dog who gets into various adventures on the ranch he guards.
“This Podcast Has Fleas” — If you want more celebrities playing animal characters, this WNYC Studios series has Jay Pharoah as a cat and Alec Baldwin as a fish.
“Flyest Fables” — The show’s host, Morgan Givens, weaves a tale of a struggling kid who bounces between real life and the pages of a magical book.
“The Past & The Curious” — This delightful and humorous history show will introduce you to some of the lesser-known stories and historical figures of the past.
“Short & Curly” — Each episode of this Australian show examines an ethical query. For example, “Should robots replace humans?” or “Should we censor stuff on the internet?”
“David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast” — Classical music becomes endlessly entertaining in this 10-episode series about music and the composers who make it.
“Mystery Recipe” — Molly Birnbaum, the editor in chief of America’s Test Kitchen Kids, challenges listeners to learn about one surprise ingredient each week, and then adds them up into an interactive cook-along finale.
“Homeschool History” — Greg Jenner, a British historian, delivers fun, factual and funny history lessons in this BBC series for the entire family.
“Book Club for Kids” — A group of young readers gather to discuss a new book in each episode, with special guest stars who read excerpts from the featured books, as well as authors who discuss the craft of writing.
“Brains On!” — Host Molly Bloom and a rotating roster of child co-hosts explore science topics from dinosaurs to viruses, through interviews with scientists, comedic sketches and interactive games.
“Million Bazillion” — American Public Media’s Marketplace and “Brains On!” join forces to help kids (and their parents) become more financially literate.
“Who Smarted?” — Does your kid love facts? These 12-minute episodes are filled with them, from those about animals to black holes to video games.
“Unspookable” — Not just for Halloween, this podcast provides satisfying explainers about scary stories, myths and urban legends like Bloody Mary, Charlie Charlie and Ouija boards. Recommended for kids 8 and up.
“Greeking Out” — From National Geographic, this series retells favorite Greek myths in a modern (and kid-friendly) way, and includes an interjecting smart speaker to check the facts.
“Stoopkid Stories” — Stories about seven young, Black characters who face everyday challenges and adventures.
“Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” — From the popular book series, this podcast shares the biographies of incredible women, read by other incredible women. Shorter episodes feature interviews with the celebrity readers themselves.
“The Ten News” — A 10-minute dive into current events and relevant facts, often with guest correspondents and experts.
“KidNuz” — Basically a five-minute NPR-like news update for kids, with a quiz at the end.
“Newsy Jacuzzi” — A mother and daughter from India deliver the world’s top news in science, tech, arts, culture and entertainment, and feature kid correspondents from other countries.
By Kids For Kids
“Dream Big Podcast” — The show’s 10-year-old host, Eva, aims to “inspire her listeners to believe in their potential to achieve their biggest dreams in life.” She does this through interviews with motivational speakers, authors and athletes, and she shares her own experiences and tips for overcoming challenges.
“At Your Level” — After his school shut down last spring, Ari Kelly, who was 10 at the time, launched this podcast with an episode about the coronavirus. Now, with a full year of podcasting behind him, he covers everything from video games and superheroes to heady concepts like time, soliciting audio recordings from kids, interviewing his friends, and letting listeners vote on the next episode’s theme.
“Cool Facts About Animals” — Ali Wilkinson and her kids explain what makes the coolest animals (Colossal squids! Bird-eating tarantulas! Honey badgers!) so unusual. They also interview scientists and other animal-obsessed kids.
“The Show About Science” — The show’s 10-year-old host, Nate, skillfully interviews scientists about everything from insects to nanotechnology.
“You Must Know Everything” — Jeremy Smith and his daughter, Rasa, started co-hosting this podcast when Rasa’s school shut down. They take turns leading the show, sharing personal theories or lessons, explaining a poem, and challenging each other to answer “vexing questions,” like “How many people have ever been alive?”
Now that you’ve just plowed through a long list of podcasts, start expanding your kid’s audio diet by working them into your daily life: during morning commutes, after school or as part of bedtime routines. I usually load up a kids’ podcast for my 7-year-old while I make dinner or while we do a craft or puzzle together. Whatever we listen to, I always feel good that I’m not just entertaining him in the moment, but cultivating a habit that will benefit my kid for life.
Lindsay Patterson is a co-founder of Tumble Media, a children’s educational audio company, and the producer of “Tumble Science Podcast for Kids.” She co-founded Kids Listen, a nonprofit organization for kids’ podcasts. Lindsay lives in Barcelona, Spain, with her husband and their two sons.