Six podcasts for children: from bedtime stories to bite-sized learning

Need to cut screen time? Little ones are all ears for audio downloads — while parents might even learn a thing or two

Podcasts catering to children are a great alternative to screens. Photo: Alireza Attari / Unsplash
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When it comes to the media their children consume, most parents would like less screen time for their little ones. But when all the toys have been played with and all the books have been read, turning on the television or iPad seems the easiest option.

However, there are plenty of attention-grabbing (and keeping!) podcasts for children, which run the gamut from magical creatures who convey eco-friendly messages, to an introduction to the stories of Ancient Greece.

Whether put on in the car for long journeys, as a sleepy listen before bedtime, or during family evenings or weekends spent hanging out at home, these six podcasts will not only engage the youngest members of the family, but mum and dad might learn a thing or two as well.

They're available to download via most popular podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

1. ‘Circle Round’

'Circle Round' introduces children to folk tales from around the world, each with its own message. Photo: Sabina Hahn / WBUR

Best for: Children who love story time

If a book at bedtime is your child’s favourite part of the day, Circle Round will introduce a host of new stories to your repertoire.

Created by narrator and writer Rebecca Sheir and composer Eric Shimelonis, the podcast adapts stories and folktales from around the world into sound and music-filled radio plays for children aged three and upwards.

The award-winning podcast, which has more than 180 episodes and counting, features tales such as Chameleon’s Contest, a tale that originated in Nigeria and features the voice of Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah; and The Golden Advice, a story with roots in India, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Jamaica, voiced by The Time Traveller’s Wife actress Kate Siegel.

2. ‘Bottle Ship Adventures’

Follow The Jifflings from the magical world of Dilstonia who find stories and adventure in the things humans discard. Photo: Acast

Best for: Teaching children about the environment

Hop aboard the Bottle Ship with weekly stories that take little ones anywhere and everywhere, from an adventure with the Vikings to discovering what firefighters do.

The series is set in the magical land of Dilstonia, a place where all the things that humans throw away end up.

A group of creatures called The Jifflings collect the items and go on an adventure on the Bottle Ship with each new find, including The Unicorn’s Umbrella, The Tooth Fairy’s Purse and The Explorer’s Compass.

Each story promotes a heartfelt message of eco awareness and caring for people.

3. ‘Greeking Out’

Time travel back to Ancient Greece for a child-friendly take on stories that have been around for thousands of years. Photo: National Geographic

Best for: History fans

The podcast series from National Geographic Kids tells tales from Ancient Greece, presented in attention-span-accommodating segments of between 13 and 17 minutes.

With many of the podcasts based on the popular children’s book series Zeus the Mighty, the podcast exposes children to some of the most imaginative and enduring tales that humans have been telling for millennia.

Episodes include Jason and the Quest for the Golden Fleece, Echo and Narcissus and Phaethon and the Sun Chariot, each with a life lesson woven into the narrative.

4. ‘Who, When, Wow!’

Little ones will learn about everything from dinosaurs and spaceships to inventors and the people who shaped our world. Photo: Tinkercast

Best for: Curious little minds

This series by Tinkercast introduces children to a whole host of subjects from how mountain goats climb steep paths to people who made history, but aren't featured in history books.

Podcasts are divided into categories such as Earth and Space Science, Dinosaurs and Ancient Egypt, as well as by school grade for parents to choose the best options.

Young fans of the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different books will be in their element, learning about everyone from inventor Lewis Latimer, who worked on the creation of the light bulb and the telephone, to the famous illusionist Harry Houdini.

5. ‘Radiolab for Kids Presents: Terrestrials’

'Terrestrials' looks at all the strange and fascinating things to be found in nature on planet earth. Photo: Radiolab

Best for: Children interested in nature

This series from seasoned, award-winning podcast studio Radiolab is ideal for helping enquiring little minds discover the fascinating strangeness of nature and the creatures found right here on Earth.

The episodes meld nature and science together as Radiolab co-host Lulu Miller brings in a host of supercool scientists to talk about everything from a super-smart, colour-changing creature, to a winged one who terrifies a village, but may not be as scary as everyone thinks.

6. ‘Story Pirates’

Children can write and submit their own stories to be turned into song-filled tales for this award-winning podcast. Photo: Story Pirates

Best for: Creative children

Comedians, musicians, authors and storytellers come together to create the tallest of tales for little ones to really let their imagination soar.

And the best part? The stories are created by children themselves.

Youngsters submit their ideas, which are then built up into stories filled with sketches and songs, and voiced by guest stars including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Claire Danes and John Oliver.

The series won the Best Family and Kids Podcast Webby Award this year at the ceremony celebrating excellence on the internet, which is run by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. It features episodes such as The Secret Theme Park / Ryan in Rhinebeck Grows Rhubarb by 10-year-old Simone from New Jersey; and Lala / Laugh Day (featuring Lou Wilson) by Juniper, a 10-year-old from Tennessee.

Updated: October 08, 2022, 5:42 AM