If you’re like us during a road trip, you want your kids to look up from their iPads every once in a while to look out the freaking windows. After all, we are driving all over the countryside so they can appreciate the beauty of the world we live in. We had to spend “quality” time with our parents when we were kids, and so do they — dammit.
Often, however, the cries of “I’m booorrred” that happen after we enforce the no-technology decree are what parents’ nightmares are made of. My kids have a special talent at hitting the exact octave that makes me want to jam pencils in my ears.
Well, it turns out that there is a great compromise for all of us in the world of family-friendly podcasts.
Audio entertainment for our technology-spoiled children? Check.
The kids will experience the world around them without realizing it or complaining about it? Check.
You can enjoy your family road trip instead of wanting to murder one another? I mean, probably check?
Here are a few of our favorite family podcasts that are sure to keep the whining to a minimum. You’re on your own with the bathroom breaks every five minutes, however.
Fiction at its finest. From classic fairytales to modern-day stories, Storynory has something for everyone. One of my favorites — “How Love and Peace Came To The Woods” — is from Aesop’s Fables. The podcast brings the stories to us from all over the world and each episode is short and sweet to match the attention spans of even our littlest ones. Listen here.
2. How to Be a Girl
This podcast is a beautifully told true story about a young transgender girl. The story is told to us by her mother who is cataloging their life and challenges and how they are navigating the world of girlhood. Watch the cartoon on how it all began, and I dare you not to feel all the feels. Listen here.
3. The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd
This podcast started in 2004, so there are a lot of Dr. Floyd adventures piled up to get you across those boring parts of South Dakota (or Nebraska). Each podcast is only five minutes long and filled with Dr. Floyd’s life-threatening situations against his nemesis Dr. Steve. Dr. Floyd and his crew do things like get taken prisoner by Time & Space Worms, and then go back in time to stop Dr. Steve from stealing lots of things — like Annie Oakley’s gun and the Wright brothers’ plane. It’s full-on fun. Listen here.
4. Stories Alive
All of the stories in Stories Alive are written by elementary students — and whoa these kids are talented. The stories are then told by professional actors and set to music, so the whole thing is brought to life. Randall the Reading Rat is your host through some truly great storytelling by our youngest authors. Listen here.
5. Wow in the World
Wow in the World asks questions like, “How in the world did 170,000-pound dinosaurs walk around without collapsing under their own weight?” I have no idea, but now I really want to know. Love science and curious kids? Want to know when we will be able to vacation in space? Or what early humans ate? Or how to solve the problem of disposable water bottles? Excuse me, I’m just going to go download this one now. Listen here.
6. The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified
Eleanor is a radio journalist who takes kids on adventures to get to the big story. There are rocket ships, evil villains, brainwashing professors, and historic musicians. From the jungle to the high seas to Congress, your whole family will find something entertaining in Eleanor’s adventures. And in this day and age, filtering through the media to get to the truth is an important life skill for our kids to have. Listen here.
7. TED Talks: Kids and Family
I love this podcast! Probably because it got my whole family through the road trip from hell last summer when we decided it would a be a great idea to try to drive 12 (!) hours in one day. So many topics, so little time. There are episodes on why kids lie, life in underwater caves, female superheroes, the magic of coincidence, and the surprising place that camels came from (you’ll never guess). Listen and learn some amazing stuff. Listen here.
8. Stuff You Should Know
More stuff you should know. I’ve learned something new every time I’ve listened to this podcast. From why whale strandings happen, to how optical illusions work, to asking the question, “Are head transplants real?” Your brain will get blown right open with this podcast. Obviously, you will have to filter through to the ones that are appropriate and that your kids will enjoy. Like, maybe skip the one on how magic mushrooms work. Listen here.
9. Brains On!
How do elevators work? Or the internet? How can we tell the age of dinosaurs? What makes cute things cute? How do whales communicate? What’s with carnivorous plants? Oh my god, I had no idea I had so many questions about the world, and I’d better get started. Listen here.
10. Stories Podcast
They specifically made this podcast for families on-the-go — fun, fictional, entertaining stories for bedtime or car rides. Everything from “The Cat Who Caught the Moon,” to “The Gingerbread Man,” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” There’s something for everyone, and I’m going to remember this for those nights that my kids want just “one more story, please!” Listen here.
11. The Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids Podcast
Stories! Facts! Education! An original song each episode! My kids love the Sugarcrash Kids, especially when real kids get on and tell their own stories. And they use words like cramazingly and incredifun, so there’s that. Listen here.
12. The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
Here is the intro to Finn Caspian: “He can’t sleep, he can’t shake the feeling someone is following him, and he can’t stop the monsters who show up to smash his cake.” This kids’ sci-fi podcast will entertain your kids and also help keep you from falling asleep to another kids music album. I mean, there are pet robots! Who doesn’t love pet robots? Listen here.
So good luck out there on your own family adventures this summer, and remember to download whatever you want to listen to before you leave because, trust me, trying to download in the middle of nowhere is not effective. These podcasts are a great start, but there are a million more out there. Have fun exploring and yay for tricking our kids!