Summer Podcasts for Kids!
There is definitely no lack of podcasts out there. In fact, there are so many, it might be hard to parse out what might be a good fit for your family this summer. Here are a few new options, some of which you may want to listen to as a family. These pods range from serious to silly and span listening ages from high school to early grade school. Choose wisely and happy listening!
Pods for Kids by Kids
This year NPR held its first Student Podcast Challenge, a contest for students is grades 5-12. The judges listened to pods from nearly 6,000 entries. The winners were a group of seven 8th grade girls from Bronx Prep Middle School in NYC who created the pod Sssh! Periods about, yup you guessed it, that lovely time of the month, and the 11th graders from Elizabethton High School in Tennessee who created Murderous Mary and The RISE of Erwin, a pod that tackles the infamous story of a neighboring town and how its community has begun a movement to atone and make restitutions for their past wrongs. Surprising topics from both the middle school winners and the high school winners and absolutely worth listening to with your kids (middle school and up).
Seven Bronx-based middle school girls got together and decided to get real about a very real yet still strangely taboo topic, menstruation! Kathaleen Restitullo, 13 years old, and six of her fellow female eighth-graders decided they’re tired of NOT talking about periods. “We wanted to shine a light on this subject because it’s something that’s kind of hidden away,” says Raizel Febles, 14 years old. “You kind of are ashamed for having it, which sucks because it’s something so natural and so normal.” But once these girls started talking about their periods, they realized that how much the stigmatization affects them and how ridiculous this reaction is. As aptly put by Kathaleen, “It’s not a state secret or anything.”
Murderous Mary and The RISE of Erwin
The 11th graders from Elizabethton, TN decided that the notoriety of their neighboring town, Erwin, needed some investigation and enlightenment. Erwin is infamous for having hanged a circus elephant named Mary after she killed her new trainer for punishing her for wanting to eat discarded watermelon rinds on the side of a pond instead of staying in the circus parade line in 1916. “The stigma of Mary’s death has haunted Erwin and its citizens for many years,” says Deanna Hull, one of the podcast’s creators. She and her classmates interviewed Jamie Rice, who lives in Erwin and grew up hearing the story of Mary. Jamie Rice now leads an organization called RISE Erwin, who, three years ago, organized a week long series of events meant to celebrate elephants on the 100th anniversary of Mary’s hanging. They partnered with The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee— a home for elephants retired from zoos and circuses, about six hours drive from Erwin, just south of Nashville. Rice’s group is trying to help the town embrace its history, learn from it, and atone for its past wrongs.
For more of the notable podcasts from NPR’s contest, click here, there are pods about Tater Tots, exotic pets, and growing up as a member of the Crow Nation, just to name a few!
The Grammy nominated kid-hop band The Alphabet Rockers have published a three part pod series about, you guessed it, race, empowerment, and activism. Kaitlin and Tommy host the pod and interview kid activists who, in their words, “stand up to hate and love their brave beautiful selves.” Listen as a family and discuss what it means to be proud of yourself just as you are and celebrate diversity.
This world-class improv group continue to adapt submitted stories by children and creating original sketches and musical theater pieces, performing them live and then recording them as a part of their ever-growing podcast. Check out their latest and greatest season of silliness! And, bonus, if you like the stories, you might want to check out their second kindie album release that has funny infectious tunes based on their podcast tales.