Drop Everything and Listen: A Podcast Review


I have recently discovered podcasts. My husband, who makes his living by being up to date on the latest and greatest technology, has been listening to podcasts for quite some time. I, however, had blown it off as one more trendy and unnecessary addition to my life.

I admittedly do not like DVD players in the car nor am I wild about excessive television viewing and video games. One thing I’ve always enjoyed though is a good book, and during my days of traveling between work and school, I became a fan of books on tape. Podcasts are like books on tape… only much better.

For long trips in the car or even for short trips to the grocery store or idle time spent waiting in car line, podcasts can make the ride more enjoyable. I now have access to hundreds of programs with just the click of my mouse. I can listen to This American Life from NPR or hear the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams even as I drive my kids to and from soccer practice.

And kids love them too. In fact, there are almost as many podcasts for children as there are for adults. A quick visit to the I-tunes store and hundreds of possibilities await your selection.

Here are a few kid-tested suggestions:

*They Might Be Giants Friday Night Family Podcast

I remember listening to TMBG as I cruised around the ASU campus in my boyfriend’s Jeep Wrangler. Kids were the furthest things from our minds at that point; however, the boyfriend and I eventually married, had kids, and the band has grown into this new phase of our lives quite nicely.

The smart but quirky and sometimes silly lyrics of their songs appeal to kids and parents, and this particular podcast comes with interesting and artistic visuals if you prefer. Harper Lee and Isaac are particularly fond of a little ditty entitled, Davy Crockett in Outer Space.

*Sesame Street podcast
This, of course, is a classic. Sesame Street also provides a video podcast, but the episodes are just as effective in audio format. These are generally broken into the familiar Sesame Street mini-lessons and often include celebrity appearances, such as Pumpernickel with Rachel Ray or Dog with Conan O’Brien. This podcast is a favorite of my three-year old and has really helped me out in the doctor’s office waiting room.

*The Classic Tales Podcast
This one is a favorite of both the kids and the adults in our family. It is generally reserved for longer car trips that include all of us. The host, B.J. Harrison, is an interesting guy who is working to “reintroduce works from classic authors to a media savvy generation.” Some of the authors included in the Classic Tales are Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain.

My daughter and I really loved Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Harper Lee still talks about The Red Room by H.G. Wells.

“B.J. also pledges to all who enjoy The Classic Tales, that he will never allow material of an explicit nature into The Classic Tales in any way. His greatest treasures in this world are his children, and he takes personal pride in producing shows that will uplift and inspire, never to degrade. This is what the Classics are to him. This is what the classics can be for all who wish to partake.”

And for those rare but sweet moments when you have a few seconds to yourself, I highly recommend The Moth. This one is not always appropriate for children; however the stories are fantastic and highly entertaining. They are true stories told by real people and are completely unscripted. This one would make waiting for your child to come off the field or out of the dance studio seem a little less like wasted time and more like some well-deserved “me time.”

There are hundreds of others to choose from, and like good books, they are as varied as their readers, but these are some of what I might call “the classics of podcasts.” They have universal appeal.

*Please note that you do not have to have an I-pod in order to enjoy the podcasts listed above. Most of these can be downloaded to any computer or MP3 Player.

Stacey Libbert is a writer, editor, teacher and mother who lives in Elkin, N.C.

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