Tuned into the World of Kidscasts

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This post was written by Anne Bensfield, Oak Park Public Library‘s Children’s Digital Learning Librarian and edited by Pam Rogers, Buttons & Figs kidscast creator. As we explore media literacy in early childhood, it is important to think beyond screens and about other forms of media that young children can use to learn more about the world or create to share their experiences, ideas and stories.

I’ve listened to podcasts for many years, but until recently I had no clue that a whole world of podcasts for kids, also known as kidcasts, existed. Kidcasts are made by adults, kids or sometimes a combination of the two.

The important thing is that [kidcasts] value kids’ voices and interests. Kidcasts allow children to enter new worlds with their imagination, build empathy for people that they would not normally have the chance to meet, and ignite learning about new topics they may not previously considered exploring.

Since I started listening, I have discovered a wide array of excellent kidcasts spanning various age groups and interests. Here is a printable guide, provided by Oak Park Public Library, to help you get started.

Why kidcasts? Kids naturally love storytelling, so the format is a great fit. I’m excited to introduce you to the world of kidcasts because as new listeners tune in, the world will keep growing! Also, the majority of the content is free! It’s also easy to get started streaming with podcast apps on smartphones or tablets. Below are a couple options either for Android and or Apple devices.

Apple-Only Apps: Podcast (free)

Apps available on Apple & Android: Overcast (free), Stitcher Radio on Demand (free), PocketCasts ($3.99)

Where to find kidcasts? Kids Listen (kidslisten.org) a grassroots organization that advocates for high-quality audio content for kids, has an app with kids-content that is also another place where you can tune in. Their app is available through Apple’s App Store. You can stream podcasts through websites on a desktop or laptop. The majority of podcasts have their own website or SoundCloud account where you can stream content.

Buttons & Figs’s on SoundCloud

Book Club for Kids’s Website

Podcasts have a variety of time commitments, but they are usually around 20 minutes. That length makes it perfect to keep everyone engaged for a car trip out to do errands or an extended road trip. Listening as a family is best because it can spark great conversation amongst family members, which makes kidcasts the perfect tools for joint media engagement.

Kidcasts Now Airing in the Library: In the public library, I cue

Kidscast Petting Zoo
Oak Park Public Library
Photo courtesy of Anne Bensfield

up episodes during storytime to reinforce learning concepts I’m exploring. I play episodes in the background during playgroups so kids can unwind. I put out a “petting zoo” made of tablets with podcast episodes for library staff, parents, and kids to listen to together and discover new voices. I put our guide for podcasts at the children’s desk that includes descriptions of each kidcast so families have a starting place and know how they can deepen interests through kidcasts. These are just some of the ways I help families tune into the world of kidcasts! I wonder: What are all of the ways you can help children tune in?

Tips for listening to kidcasts with children:

  1. Listen Broadly: Try a lot of different kidcasts, finding stories, information and entertainment just right for your children’s interests
  2. Listen Often: Experiment with listening at different times during your daily routines, find out what works best in your world
  3. Listen Deeply: Talk about the episodes you’re listening to together – extend, play, experiment and connect what you’re hearing to your world.

Kidscast Review Sources

Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/20-podcasts-for-kids

Zooglobble: http://www.zooglobble.com/

Podcast Episodes about Kidcasts

The Longest Shortest Time: Kidcast Sampler

Ear Snacks: How Does This Get Made

Kidcast News Articles:

The Atlantic:Where Are all of the Kidcasts?

The New York Times:The New Bedtime Story is a Kids Podcast

Photo courtesy of Anne Bensfield

Anne Bensfield is the Children’s Digital Learning Librarian at Oak Park Public Library and a Kidscast Advocate. She recently became a member of Kids Listen as a librarian.

You can find her online at http://oppl.org/meet-anne or on Twitter @annebensfield

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