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8 Podcasts That Just Might Save Your Next Family Road Trip

Decode dog DNA, listen to feminist fairy tales, debate ethics, and have the best Saturday morning dance party of your whole life.

Nikki Ridgway · 5 months ago

  • travel
podcasts

If you think podcasts are all about dry stuff like politics and history and news, hold on to your earbuds, friends. A new generation of kid-focused podcasts means you can find a streaming series on almost any topic, from kid-friendly current events and crafts, to interactive stories and singalongs.

Podcasts are fun to follow on their own, but they can be a real lifesaver on a family trip, especially if you can find one everybody can agree on (and stick with!). The trick for families is finding one podcast that’s interesting enough for the grown-ups and engaging enough for kiddos, especially when there are siblings of different ages to consider. Major bonus points if it's funny, too.

Read on for 8 kid-approved, road-trip-tested podcasts for every age group — and grown-up!

1. Kids Short Stories

Kids Short Stories

Best for: Ages 3-7

Known for: The adventures of the Spy Kids created via listener submissions, and the imagination of storyteller and dad of four, Jim Jacob.

Why you'll love it: This chart-topping podcast started out as a dad recording stories for his kids to listen to in the car — and that DIY approach and back-to-basics vibe is a big part of the appeal. No fancy sound effects here: It just sounds like a super-funny and creative person making up a story on the fly, which, after all, is all you really need. Kids from pre-school age on up to the early grade years will latch onto the familiar tone (“umms” and all!) and the wild and always triumphant capers of the Spy Kids crew.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

2. Wow in the World

Wow in the World

Best for: Ages 5 - 10

Known for: Fascinating and varied subjects, each one given the signature “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and WOW” treatment. Every episode clocks in under 30 minutes, and bonus “Two Whats and a Wow” episodes challenge listeners to separate fact from fiction.

Why you'll love it: Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz are smart and goofy in equal measure, and recent episodes have covered everything from life on Venus and ambush predators, to great white sharks and ghost crabs. These guys really get what kids want to learn about and how to make it compelling — so while your 8 year-old leans into learning about life in space, your preschooler will love the part about how astronauts poop once they get there.

Available on NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify

3. Tumble: Science Podcast for Kids

Tumble: Science Podcast for Kids

Best for: Ages 5 - 12

Known for: This may be a podcast about science for kids, but it's just as well-loved by adults. The tone is unpatronizing, each episode inspires wonder, and the topics are surprisingly intricate. “Decoding Dog DNA,” anyone?

Why you'll love it: Journalist Lindsay Patterson and educator Marshall Escamilla bring a genuine love and excitement to all corners of science, whether they're tackling tricky questions from kids or wondering about the science of smell and the physics of basketball. Even challenging subjects like satellites and atoms are told with building-block-like explanations that bring the full picture together by the end of each episode. Most important, the hosts remind us all that scientists don’t have all the answers — and the fun of science is in the discovery. The podcast is also available in Spanish.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

4. Girl Tales

Girl Tales

Best for: All ages

Known for: Not a damsel in distress in sight! This is the podcast for original feminist fairytales, written by playwrights and performed by actors and voiceover artists.

Why you'll love it: This is a family favorite for the wild creativity and humor of each brand-new tale. Told with theatrical flair by a crew of actors, each episode cleverly disguises life lessons and big ideas in each episode, but it’s the story and memorable characters you’ll love and remember most. Whatever a “page turner” is in the podcast world, this is it!

Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify

5. Ear Snacks

Ear Snacks

Best for: Ages 3 - 6

Known for: A music discovery podcast that tackles big questions about the big wide world through music, musical genres, and instruments.

Why you'll love it: Musicians Polly Hall and Andrew Barkan are award-winning composers and parents to preschoolers, so this podcast blends their two worlds in a perfectly-paced mix of original music and total silliness. For parents with very little kids, this is the podcast that will have your toddler thinking they’re at music class, while your kindergartener soaks up concepts like the U.S. Census and musical tempos.

Available on Apple Podcasts

6. Noodle Loaf

Noodle Loaf

Best for: Ages 3 - 9

Known for: A podcast that gets your kids singing, making music, and drawing through a series of short, interactive games, Noodle Loaf masters the learning-through-play approach to musical discovery. 

Why you'll love it: Hosted by musician and music teacher Dan Saks (and occasionally his two young daughters), Noodle Loaf is all about proving the points that that music and learning are FUN. Kids are invited to join the Noodle Loaf choir via their own musical submissions, while joining in singalongs, call and response games, and mega dance parties. Parents are welcome too!

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

7. Short and Curly

Short and Curly

Best for: Ages 7 - 12

Known for: An ethics podcast for kids — yes, ethics. Each episode sets up a moral or “curly” question, then brings in the experts to help unpack and answer it.

Why you'll love it: Ethics seems like a big subject for kids, until you realize that they — like all human beings — are making ethical decisions and observations each day. Especially at school! Past episodes have tackled subjects like “Who owns a forest?” and “Is it fair to punish the whole class?” Save this one for your grade-school-age kids, and get ready to consider your own stance on everything from fairness and bravery, to friendship, bullying, and lots more.

Available on Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts

8. Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl

Best for: All ages

Known for: A weekly two-hour celebration of “Kindie” music — that is, the best music-that-kids-happen-to-love-that-isn’t-kid-music. 

Why you'll love it: If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what happens, sonically speaking, between Ba Ba Black Sheep and Taylor Swift, podcaster Dave Loftin helps to plug the gap. His weekly two-hour kid-focused music show introduces young listeners to music they’ll love, from genres they don’t yet know exist. It’s a fascinating chance to tune into your kid’s music taste, and have a Saturday morning dance party to boot!

Available on Apple Podcasts and iHeartRadio