Summer is nearly over, but there’s still time to get in a few road trips before it’s back to school. While there are loads of options to keep kids occupied on the road, having something to listen to as a family can make car trips a little more fun.
Here are our choices for family-friendly podcasts to entertain both kids and adults.
Grade School Kids:
Wow in the World – NPR
It’s no surprise that public radio classic NPR would put out podcasts. While they have a variety of options for their older listeners, this one is perfect for grade-school kids and interesting enough for their parents. Wow in the World features news items and current events stories to entertain and inform. There’s a lot of emphasis on scientific discoveries and technological innovations, with comedy and debate to explain it all. Now you don’t have to know all the answers when the kids start asking “Why?”
Circle Round — WBUR
Fairy tales, folklore, and myths – kids love these kinds of stories, but it can be tricky to find ones that are truly kid-friendly without being too childish. Circle Round solves the problem. Featuring stories from all around the world, the podcast uses professional actors and voice actors to bring life and character to every reading. Some of the big names include Ed Asner, Jon Cryer, Melinda Gates, and Sela Ward, plus musicians, sports icons and more.
Middle School kids:
Welcome to Nightvale — Nightvale Presents
This science-fiction serial has been a podcast favorite for tweens and nearly everyone else since it began in 2012. It has spawned merchandise, live shows, novels and more, and it shows no sign of slowing down. And why should it? Nightvale is entertaining as all get out and with five years worth of episodes to listen to, there’s no way to get bored. It’s almost impossible not to get caught up in the strange goings-on of this fictional town and its inhabitants, and if your tweens are avid readers, they’ll probably want the books, too—grab them in audio format for your next road trip.
Stuff You Missed in History Class – HowStuffWorks
This podcast manages to do what some tweens might claim is impossible—make history interesting and entertaining. They manage this by telling tales of the weird, the underrepresented and the overlooked—truly the things they don’t teach in school. Topics span the ages and include things like mysteries, biographies, themed episodes (the annual Halloween ones are fan faves), medical history, culinary history and loads more. There is a lot to choose from, with plenty to keep adults and even teens entertained, though most of it might be too complex for grade-schoolers.
Lore – Aaron Mahnke
This incredibly popular podcast has spawned a book series as well as an Amazon Prime Video show for two seasons. The podcast has been going strong since 2015 and has won awards, including “Best History Podcast.” Lore is about terrifying true stories throughout history, even if not all the details are provable. It’s the place where history and folklore meet, and it’s done beautifully. Be warned, though – some of the tales are not for the faint of heart, so this is best saved for teens.
The Sporkful – Dan Pashman
Ah, food, the great unifier. Everyone loves food and this podcast knows it. Both teens and parents will enjoy this one, and there’s plenty to occupy younger minds too. The Sporkful features interesting and very funny stories about food, including musings by Bill Nye on food science and his love for PB&J, Andy Richter talking about his amazing new refrigerator, and Lucy Dahl (Roald Dahl’s daughter) reminiscing about her father’s approach to food in his stories and in life. There are also terrific episodes about recipe mysteries and how brain and body chemistry affect the way we view and enjoy food.
There are literally thousands of podcasts out there, on every topic imaginable. This list is just a start. Explore with family and friends and enjoy this new wave of entertainment.