Summer is just around the corner and with it comes the family road trip. Podcasts and audio books can be a great way to break up the journey, take a break from screens, or, in our car, avoid listening to the Frozen soundtrack for the 300th time. Here are some of our family’s favorites that both kids and parents can enjoy together.
Wow in the World
I first discovered Wow in the World when looking for a fun way to explain last summer’s solar eclipse to my four-year-old daughter. Thanks to the enthusiastic hosts and engaging format, it quickly became her favorite podcast. Each episode takes listeners on a scientific adventure, covering topics ranging from gene editing technology to why onions make you cry. Kids and parents will have plenty to talk about long after the podcast ends.
Adorable second-grader Eva, along with her mom Olga, interview people who will inspire kids to follow their dreams and reach their full potential. Guests have included astronauts, musicians, Olympians and authors. One of the best episodes is an interview with Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate from Harvard Law school.
Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child
This music podcast features playlists that combine children’s artists such as Laura Doherty and Elizabeth Mitchell with kid-friendly tunes from adult artists like Sleater-Kinney, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Paul Simon. As a parent who was clueless about kids music, this podcast helped introduce me to many great artists, and having a few of my favorite songs in the mix is an added bonus.
Be prepared, Story Pirates gets really silly, really fast! Each episode beings with a narrator reading an original story written by a child. Professional actors then expand on the story, creating a sketch comedy, often with a song and a few jokes for parents thrown in as well. After listening to this podcast your kids will want to start writing and submitting their own stories to the show!
The Roald Dahl Audio Collection
Some preschoolers may not be ready for Roald Dahl quite yet, but for those that are I highly recommend this collection read by the author. Dahl adds personality and humor to each of the five included stories (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James & the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Enormous Crocodile and The Magic Finger).
The Collected Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
With narration by Stephen Fry and additional voices provided by Judi Dench and Jane Horrocks, this audio book is even more charming than the original print edition. The classic tales of Winnie-the-Pooh are just as meaningful now as they were when first released in 1926.
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
Jim Dale, who also narrated the Harry Potter audio book series, reads a charming set of tales from the author of All Creatures Great and Small. Based on Herriot’s experiences as a rural veterinarian in the English countryside, each story will teach kids the joy of having pets and the responsibilities involved with their care. At about 10 minutes apiece, each story is also perfect for short trips around town.
Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater
A hysterical story of a 266-pound chicken named Henrietta. Young children will enjoy the craziness of the giant chicken, and older children will enjoy the sense of humor and imagination in the book. There is even a political lesson included in the story regarding con artists and scams. The narration is positive and children will enjoy the way the story unfolds.
The Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8 by Mary Pope Osborne
The Magic Tree House series tells the story of two children who find a tree house filled with books. The tree house takes the siblings on a series of adventures based on the books they choose to read. Narrated by the author, the stories captivate children as young as three and as old as six or seven.