My wife and I are avid podcast listeners. We love that we can easily listen to podcast episodes about a wide array of topics. I listen to podcasts about sports, politics, marketing, technology, crime and a variety of other subjects. Our favorite thing about podcasts, by a pretty wide margin, is the ability to passively consume episodes. As busy working parents, it can be incredibly difficult to carve out the time to catch up on our desired reading and watching. However, we can listen to podcasts while walking the dog, driving to work, or sitting on the sidelines of a child’s practice. Given the inordinate amount of time we spend in the car with the kids, we decided to explore kid-friendly podcasts that we could listen to as a family to pass the time while driving.
My wife first experimented with Wow In The World, a show that bridged the gap between parent and child favorites in our household as it’s hosted by Mindy Thomas (aka Absolutely Mindy of Kids Place Live fame – a staple of Cutler morning car rides) and Guy Raz (host of How I Built This, one of my favorite podcasts). This was a successful first foray as the kids enjoyed the episodes, but it didn’t reach the point where they requested it. Friends of ours recommended Pants on Fire, a fun podcast in which a child must determine from among two adults claiming to be subject matter experts which is the real deal and which is the liar (liar pants on fire). Pants on Fire was immediately a fan favorite with our kids, much as it had been for our friends’ kids, who are of similar ages.
When we learned that Pants on Fire is produced by Gen-Z Media, a company focused on creating awesome podcasts for kids, we decided to explore the other Gen-Z Media shows. It turned out to be a gold mine!
We started with Young Ben Franklin, a fictional series about the adventures of an adolescent Ben Franklin in Colonial Boston before he became an inventor and statesmen. The kids quickly devoured all 10 episodes, thoroughly enjoying the engaging story and character-driven plot. We’re all hoping the show returns with additional seasons.
Next, we moved on to The Mayan Crystal, the story of a young Belizean girl who accidentally awakens an ancient evil spirit seeking to destroy the rainforest. Together with her sister, the girl embarks on a thrilling journey while they try to save the day. Our kids really liked this show as well, although our younger two kids (6 & 4) struggled to follow the plot at times.
Earth Rangers has proven to be a great filler podcast, in particular with our animal-obsessed 8-year-old. Although we don’t diligently listen to every episode in a timely fashion, it’s a fun way to learn about different animals and pass the time during rides to or from school.
As we embarked on a 15-hour drive to my in-laws for Thanksgiving a few months ago, we opted to give Six Minutes a try. The podcast chronicles the adventures of a family who discovers a girl floating in the water off the coast of Alaska and welcomes her into their home, only to discover that she has a mysterious past. Thankfully, we were late to the game in starting Six Minutes because the kids were immediately hooked. With over 75 episodes (each 6 minutes long) already released and waiting in the queue, we had over 7 hours of content to keep the kids engaged and entertained during a long drive. Six Minutes has since become appointment viewing in our house. The kids have memorized the schedule for new episodes being released (Mondays and Wednesdays) and diligently remind us to play the newest installment when we get in the car on either of those days. If one of them misses an episode for some reason, the others are perfectly content to hear it again to ensure everyone is all caught up.
We’ve explored other podcasts as a family with varying degrees of success, but nothing rose to the level of staying power attained by those that I mentioned above. One thing we learned pretty definitively is that single-narrator shows struggled to hold the kids’ attention. They have a strong preference for character-driven, full-cast productions. Kudos to the Gen-Z Media team* for having the foresight to produce what they refer to as “fun and exciting scripted podcasts with high production values and unique stories, featuring real kids playing the lead roles, and entertaining for the whole family.” It seems to be a recipe for success.
Does your family listen to any podcasts together? I’d love to hear recommendations for new shows to try. Please share your suggestions with me in the comments below or on Twitter. Thanks!
*This is NOT a sponsored post. We’re just huge fans of Gen-Z Media’s podcasts and want to share that enjoyment with other families.