Cool Podcasts for the Whole Family
Podcasts are the perfect shelter-in-place entertainment when we're taking care of kids 24/7 and riding out pandemic restrictions. Podcasts require little more than pressing play, and that's about all many of us can muster at this point. But they give so much in return! They're a perfect family activity and a welcome alternative to screens, and they train your brain to pay attention. Every podcast on this list has at least three hours' worth of episodes to enjoy, so you can really hunker down for the long haul.
Most of the sites linked below offer episodes for free and allow you to stream directly from the site (except where noted). If you haven't hopped on the podcast train yet, read all about them in our Parents' Guide to Podcasts, which also explains what you need to know about podcast players.
Don't Break the Rules, Pinna
This fun series uses wacky characters, fart jokes, and more to introduce improv concepts to kids. Four cartoon voice actors get a character developed by a kid, then must act out a situation without "breaking the rules" of improv: no breaking character and no ignoring a story element someone else has introduced. It's certainly silly but might encourage kids to create their own improvised stories. Pinna, the production company, usually charges a monthly fee after a 30-day trial, but they're extending that offer to 60 days during the coronavirus pandemic.
Eleanor Amplified, WHYY in Philadelphia
An old-timey radio show with a high-tech twist, this adventure series follows famous radio reporter Eleanor Amplified as she gets the scoop—and the crafty villains. With incredible sound effects and a lively voice cast, this series for tweens will keep the energy up as the days go by.
Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest, Pinna
Some kids may be open to a little bit of spookiness in their stories, and if so, this eerie series from award-winning author Adam Gibwitz is for them. With real kids' commentary throughout and tips for what to do if it gets too scary or icky, these darker but still kid-friendly fairy tales are sure to enthrall. (Part of the Pinna network; qualifies for the 60-day free trial.)
The Mysterious Disappearance of Mars Patel, Gen-Z Media
The gripping mystery, sci-fi excitement, and excellent young voice cast of this award-winning series will keep your kids riveted to the speakers from start to finish. More than that, Mars Patel is an incredible role model, and this podcast is chock-full of positive messages about friendship and bravery. (Part of the Pinna network; qualifies for the 60-day free trial.)
Pants on Fire, Kids Listen
Laughing, learning, and calling grown-ups liars are all central parts of this fun game show-style podcast. A real kid is tasked with determining which of two "experts" on a subject is telling the truth, while the engaging, funny hosts guide them through their questions. The topics cover a wide range from soap to sleep and archery to anime, so you can find topics that interest your family or learn something totally new.
The Punies, Granity Studios
If you need a podcast for your young sports lover, then this scripted series about a ragtag group of kid athletes is for you. With characters developed by Kobe Bryant and a focus on the importance of teamwork, sporting conduct, and believing in yourself, this positive series is a winner for families. And the musical interludes are so catchy, you might find yourself humming them all day.
Six Minutes, Gen-Z Media
With strong themes about family (and siblings working together), this tween-friendly podcast about an 11-year-old girl who discovers she has incredible abilities (and a magical hoverboard) might be a great way to keep the peace. Episodes are only six minutes long, but you won't want to stop after just one.
Got a favorite podcast?
We're a little obsessed with them at Common Sense Media. Let us know which ones you like—we'll be doing these roundups often.