A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this podcast.
Provides information based on questions asked by kid listeners that are grouped to create topics that become the focus of individual episodes. Each show answers several questions from different listeners. Episode learning guides are available on the show's website for post-listening use; they were created with kids ages 5-9 in mind and are aligned to Common Core standards. A handful of episodes have additional supplemental materials available, like coloring pages, experiments, and recipes.
Asking and finding answers to questions is how we understand the world around us. Kids' curiosities and questions are important to address honestly and factually. Questions help us understand history and why things happen the way they do.
Positive Role Models
A variety of interesting guests join the show to discuss topics with host Jane Lindholm. For example, a linguist joins an episode to share the beginnings of language and how it has evolved over centuries. A chief scientist at NASA joins another episode to discuss space exploration. Show notes detail further information about the guests and artists featured in individual episodes.
The show takes questions from kids worldwide and finds a range of interesting people to answer them. The coloring pages provided with a handful of episodes share the work of diverse artists from across the state of Vermont.
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Violence & Scariness
Several episodes have warnings at the front indicating that content may be scary or confusing for some kids. The host encourages adults to preview, listen with their child, or skip the episode altogether depending on the individual listeners. Some of the specific episodes with warnings are on the topics of the Ukraine-Russian war, violence seen in the news, death, and cancer.
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Products & Purchases
Infrequent and unproblematic ads within episodes directed at adult listeners.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids leaves little off the table in terms of answering kids' questions. The show supports kids' curiosity about a range of topics that includes subjects like cancer, death, gender identity, where babies come from, the beginning and end of the world, and violence on TV. While several episodes provide gentle warnings at the front and in episode-specific show notes, parents may want to preview or listen to these episodes together if kids have connections or experiences related to the topics. That said, the way the host tackles the more sensitive topics feels well-researched and developmentally appropriate in terms of explanations and vocabulary. And, of course, other episodes cover lighter questions like why ladybugs have spots and how sugar is bad for the body. Most of the questions are voiced by the kids asking them.
Is It Any Good?
This podcast is an excellent listen for both kids and adults who are fascinated by exciting facts on various topics. On But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids kids source the topics through their questions, and the content is presented via language and explanations that make sense to kid listeners (although it could feel dry to some, and it could be a challenge for all kids to stay engaged during longer episodes or those that don't include guests). While a handful of the topics covered may be uncomfortable for some families (war, illness, etc.), they provide space for adults to further the conversation and field questions after listening to the episodes together.
The show is produced by Vermont Public Radio, and Jane Lindholm is the show's creator, executive producer, and host. She's recognized as an expert in her field and has been noted as "Vermont Public Radio's most recognizable voice." Thanks to its robust number of accessible, Common Core-aligned learning guides, guests from across the world, and a focus on using kids' questions as the driver for content, the show has had a strong following since its inception in 2016.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.