I’ve emailed my list to enough friends that I should really just post it.
Podcasts have been a big part of Lily’s life since around age 4. Before that, she spent a lot of her time demanding of any available adult, “READ. READ TO ME” (once she literally asked the cat, who did not read to her). We read a lot and told her a lot of stories, but her appetite for stories was more than we could really keep up with.
We still read every day, but since she discovered podcasts she basically has an endless supply of stories, and we’re all happier. We ration videos but let her listen to audio as much as she wants.
Hardware: We’ve gotten lots of mileage out of a $50 Amazon Fire kids tablet, which she’s used for podcasts for 3 years. It has withstood being dropped and stepped on. She also uses it for videos on long trips, various math and reading games, and now Zoom calls for school. They’re always on sale on Black Friday.
If you have someone’s old smartphone floating around your house, those can also be a good podcast vehicle for kids (with wifi, no phone service needed.)
Frog and Toad audiobooks: not a podcast, but just the best. It’s the only audio Lily was interested in starting at age 2.5, when this book got us through a drive from Philadelphia to Boston. I checked it out from our library’s digital section month after month.
“Sparkle Stories”: This podcast is mostly on a subscription service, but they issue one free story a week. The “Martin and Sylvia”, “So Many Fairies”, and “Junkyard Tales” series are best for this age; some of the other series are meant for older kids. Quiet, wholesome vibe.
“Story time with Josh and Blue”: Blue’s Clues podcast, all bedtime/sleep themed
“Thomas and Friends”: Thomas the Tank Engine stories
Age 5 and up: (Lily is currently 6, not sure how long she’ll be interested in some of these)
Easy on my ears:
“Bedtime stories podcast” / Tales from the Lilypad (seems to be two names for the same show): gentle stories including some sleep meditations. She manages to do a non-scary retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur.
“Little stories for tiny people”: Gentle, original stories. I like how the guest speaker is always an animal who says nothing.
“Molly of Denali”: serial story set in indegenous Alaskan town, based on PBS show.
“Circle Round”: Folktales from around the world, high production values, from WBUR radio.
“Storynory” – British, original stories, some scarier stories taken from mythology or history.
“Stories podcast: a bedtime show for kids of all ages”: with picture of green dragon. Some dragon / ogre stories that Lily found scary at age 4/5. “The Brilliant Firefly” series is a superhero serial aimed at older kids, definitely too scary for Lily at this age.
“Stories from the woods”: I don’t remember much about this one, but Lily’s listened to it a lot.
“Story Time” from bedtime FM: another one I don’t remember much about. British.
Good but loud / frantic to my ears:
“Wow in the World”: science podcast from NPR. They break down scientific research into manageable pieces – pretty sure this is the reason Lily knows what a hypothesis is. I like the concept, but it’s an ear-grabbing rather than relaxed style.
“Story Pirates”: stories and songs based on prompts sent in by kids. Funny but frantically paced.
“What if World”: more stories based on prompts sent in by kids along the format “what if …” I find some of the voices annoying.
“Stories Podcast: A Bedtime Show for Kids of All Ages”: aka Amanda Weldon. If you’re going to listen to this a lot, worth joining the Patreon for a few dollars to avoid ads. Most voices are not annoying, except the chihuahua in the “Dog King” series.