The Story Seeds Podcast
By Lakshmi Hutchinson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Creative kids work with authors to craft diverse stories.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this podcast.
Kids learn how to harness their creativity in the writing process. Listeners get in-depth insight into the writing process, from idea to story, to help them with their own writing. They'll hear discussions of what can inspire a story, how to build a story from the "story seeds," how to flesh out characters and use techniques like cliffhangers. They'll learn about different genres, and hear about authors and other books that may be of interest. Website includes an activity book for purchase ($24.99) to go along with all episodes from the first season, or individual activities for each episode ($3.99). The book Imagination Lab: Experiments in Creativity includes writing prompts and helpful story-writing tips from authors featured on the show. It also features free lesson plans and classroom ideas for educators.
Themes of creativity, encouraging imagination, teamwork, curiosity, and communication. Teaches that all writers make mistakes and have to make tough choices sometimes, and rewriting is a big part of writing. The process the kids on the show go through with the authors they pair up with teaches kids that they don't have to be perfect to be a writer and that writing skills develop with practice.
Positive Role Models
All the young writers who participate model creativity, a passion for writing, and good communication skills. They collaborate with adult authors to learn from them and show positive examples of teamwork. The authors are great role models who've written children's books and take time to mentor the kids. A 9-year-old in one episode -- who has been fighting pediatric cancer -- raises money for research, works to make other kids with cancer feel more comfortable. The kids working with authors help empower listeners to follow their passion of writing and believe they too can write a short story.
Both kids and the authors they're paired with come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Importance of representation in stories and books is discussed in some episodes, like one where a young writer wants to create an Arab American protagonist for her mystery story. A child with pediatric cancer chooses to craft a story about a service dog who helps other children. Kids show the importance of hearing stories they can relate to. Many stories created feature characters of different experiences, cultures, and racial, ethnic, and familial backgrounds. The team behind the podcast is diverse, including creator Sandhya Nankani, who grew up in Ghana and India and is a founding member of the Kids' Inclusive and Diverse Media Action Project.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Story Seeds Podcast is a creative and educational podcast likely to inspire both kids and adults. Aspiring young writers are matched with bestselling children's book authors for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to collaborate on a story. The kids and the authors come from a variety of backgrounds, and the importance of representation in books and other forms of media is discussed. In one episode, a young writer wants to create an Arab American protagonist for her mystery story. In another, a child with pediatric cancer chooses to craft a story about a service dog who helps other children. The authors offer advice, encouragement, and positive feedback to the young writers, and listeners can learn a lot about the writing process from these conversations. The author reads the completed story at the end, which brings a relaxing story time feel to the close of each episode. Themes of communication, curiosity, and teamwork are present throughout.
Where to Listen
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What’s It About?
Each episode of THE STORY SEEDS PODCAST matches a creative kid who has "story seeds" in mind with a children's book author who helps them turn their ideas into a story. The child and author have a meeting (often at an interesting location in NYC) where they get to know each other, discuss the story seeds, and talk about the writing process. The author guides the kid they are paired with -- and the listeners along with them -- through thinking about characters, genre, and ways to keep the reader hooked. The author works on the story with input from the child, and at the end the story is read out to the listeners. In some episodes it's a finished story, and in other episodes the author leaves the ending for the listener to complete. For those who want to hear more about a particular author, there are bonus Q&A episodes with the author available.
Is It Any Good?
This is an enjoyable and educational podcast that will delight readers and aspiring writers of all ages. What makes The Story Seeds Podcast really stand out is that the kids are treated as equal partners in the collaboration, and their thoughts and opinions are welcomed. The concept of matching a young writer with a published author succeeds in part because listeners can put themselves in the child's place and learn from the author as well. Young listeners will learn a lot from guest authors including Katherine Applegate, Susan Muaddi Darraj, and Chris Grabenstein.
The podcast's conversational style is complemented by lively commentary from the host, Betsy Bird, who provides context, backstory on the authors, and lots of rich descriptions of locations. Kids will love the catchy theme song and music, courtesy of Andrew VanWyngarden (of MGMT fame). With its mix of personal anecdotes, literary discussion, and storytelling, The Story Seeds Podcast is a great choice for kids and families looking for an inspiring show that sparks creativity.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how kids and adults collaborate in The Story Seeds Podcast. What do you think it's like for kids to learn from a mentor who's treating them like an equal -- that is, adults speaking with them rather than to them? Is it different from how kids might learn in school?
How does it make you feel to have someone who looks like you in a story? Do you think it's valuable to see people from different backgrounds in books? Why, or why not?
In the episode "A Nose That Knows," we hear that "a personal story can be a story for everyone." Can you think of examples of stories where a character's personal challenge or joy resonated with you?
- Release date: March 5, 2020
- Genre: Kids & Family
- Average Run Time: 35 minutes
- Website: https://www.storyseedspodcast.com/
- Host: Betsy Bird
- Publisher: Literary Safari Media
- Pricing structure: Free
- Topics: Adventures, Fairy Tales
- Character Strengths: Communication, Curiosity, Teamwork
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: June 18, 2022
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.
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