Recent studies1 have proven what has long been suspected – too much screen-time is a big no-no for developing minds. There’s also been studies2, which link too much screen-time to poor physical development and an increased risk of obesity! Yowzah!
But we’re not here to be a voice of gloom and doom. We are here to give you a secret weapon to combat the effects of screen-time, as well as significantly aid your child’s cognitive development. That weapon? Stories!
As a teacher by profession, I could give you at least 100 reasons why reading stories aloud to your children is so important. I could also tell with at least an 80% accuracy which children had a consistent ‘story-time’ and which have significant ‘screen-time’. But I’d rather just tell you the magical powers of stories!
Stories ignite and expand the imagination, equipping children with well-developed inner processing skills. Reading aloud to children expands their vocabulary, sparks curiosity and enhances critical listening skills. Academically, statistics show that reading aloud to children can improve comprehension3 by over 70%, as well as significantly increasing test scores. But most importantly, children grasp valuable life lessons and morals much more readily when told through story or narrative as opposed to being explicitly taught that same lesson.
But I’m sure we all agree on the many benefits of reading to children – it’s the practical application that can be a little tricky. It’s no fun for anyone involved if you’re reading the same couple of books over and over. You’re also a busy parent and can’t bring out an oscar-worthy performance of The Very Hungry Caterpillar every night. So what to do? Podcasts to the rescue! Podcasts are an incredible resource for story-time! Whether at bedtime, in the car during commutes, or just during some afternoon quiet time, podcasts are a great way to capitalize on all the benefits of reading aloud to your children.
With so many podcasts out there, in today’s blog post we’ve made the task of finding great story-telling podcasts that much easier. The podcasts featured in this post are ones that focus on short, usually stand-alone stories (with one exception) so that you’re free to mix it up each time a story is needed. I know that “kid’s shows” is a term largely akin to nails on a chalkboard, but I can guarantee that the ones on this list are well-produced, and a mix of funny, clever, and just enjoyable stories for both you and your kids…and will not make you want to stand on a fork…repeatedly.
Please note: some of these shows do have ads, but they are tastefully done and are for products or subscriptions that align to the possible needs of the audience.
Stories Podcast releases a new story every week. Some are retellings of fairy tales and fables, some are original stories, but all are expertly performed and produced. Host Amanda Weldon has a gift for voices, as well as a beautiful singing voice, and there’s often an original song included. Writer Daniel Hines does a fantastic job of scripting the stories, whether they’re based on fairy tales or folklore from around the world, or whether they are original works (Meowmaid, a recent two-part story, was based on a painting, and tells the really enjoyable tale of Captain Calico Ken and his calico cat Calliope!) its entertainment for the whole family as the stories are diverse and new. The episodes range between 10-30 minutes and there are stories from as far back as 2014 so there’s an abundance of content for you to enjoy in the car or before bed.
Story Pirates is featured on a lot of kid’s podcast recommendation posts. And it’s no wonder! It’s a truly unique listening experience! The premise is that the Story Pirates take stories written by children and turns them into sketch comedies and songs. A talented group of performers and writers make these stories come alive, and an interview with the kid authors makes this show extra special. The songs and in-between content are witty and clever, the stories the kids come up with are hilarious and imaginative, and the performances are excellent. What I find so commendable is that by producing these stories, they’re showing children that their stories and ideas are worthwhile – and that creative writing is more than just a classroom activity! A Story Pirates episode is usually between 20-30 minutes and is a delightful, fun-filled podcast that’s perfect for children’s imaginations and witty enough for parents to enjoy too.
Circle Round is another great story-telling podcast that shares folktales from around the world, all with an important underlying message. Orchestral instruments are cleverly used for sound effects and background music, making for a very calming, imaginative experience. Each episode ranges from 10-20 minutes and includes a thought-provoking question about the tale for children to discuss with a grown-up. Folktales have been used for centuries to teach morals and are still a great way to teach character lessons to children, as well as an appreciation for different cultures. Sharing stories from different countries provides plots that most have never heard before, making these a worthwhile listen for children and their parents alike. With the beautiful instrumental accompaniments, Circle Round would be perfect for bedtime stories or quiet afternoon activity.
By Kids, For Kids Story Time
Told by kids, for kids, this podcast has a new episode every two weeks. With a running time of between 5 and 15 minutes, they’re great for the school run, as well as any other storytime. There’s a mix of classics, as well as myths and folklore from a variety of origins. While each story is usually told in one episode (remember the one exception mentioned earlier?), their latest project is the production of the complete story of The Wizard of Oz, which could be a great way to introduce children to longer pieces of literature.
The kids perform with confidence and clarity, making this a really relatable podcast for children, while still being enjoyable for adults.
Reading Bug Adventures
Reading Bug Adventures is a podcast created from beginning to end by The Reading Bug, a family-owned, independent bookstore in California. The podcast is up-beat and features original stories and songs as we follow the Reading Bug on a new adventure each episode, depending on what books are in the Reading Bug’s magical book bag! These stories are also interactive as children are encouraged to have paper and crayons handy to draw pictures from the story. Because of this, the stories are very descriptive as well as being full of facts as discoveries are made on each adventure. These stories are also a little longer than other story-telling podcasts, running from anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes. Each story is usually told in two parts, so the total run-time of a complete story is over 1 and a half hours, making these stories perfect for school holidays or rainy afternoons!
Classical Kids Storytime
Set to the backdrop of beautiful classical music, Classical Kids Storytime is a collection of some of the classic stories we know and love, sometimes with surprising twists and turns. The run time of each story ranges between 10-20 minutes, with a new story coming out each month. The classical music is paired perfectly with each story, not only stimulating an appreciation for classical music, but also making these episodes perfect for bedtimes, or car rides when a little quiet time is needed.
Story Shed features original, usually rhyming, stories by an elementary school teacher in the UK, with the purpose of creating something children and adults can enjoy together. They are a great resource to engage children in the art of storytelling as well as for teaching valuable lessons, particularly focusing on inclusivity. At the end of each story, the host and writer, Jake Harris, goes over important or thought-provoking points from the stories with his own young children, as a way of engaging young listeners with the content. The stories have a lot of heart, humor, and originality, so they’re fun for listeners of all ages.
This list was really fun to put together, and it definitely includes some gems that are going to stay in my library! We hope you’ll enjoy listening to these or any of the other great kids’ podcasts with your children and keep enjoying the magic of stories!
Do you know of any other children’s story-telling podcasts? Let us know in the comments below.
1. The Lancet – https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(18)30278-5/fulltext
2. AHA Journals – https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000591
3. Wester Down Libraries – https://www.westerndownslibraries.com/the-benefits-of-listening-to-audiobooks-are-extensive/
4. How Audio Promotes Literacy – https://www.audiopub.org/uploads/pdf/sound-learning_infographic_2019.pdf
5. Sound Learning – https://www.audiopub.org/sound-learning