Let’s begin with the obvious: we’ve all seen the glassy-eyed, slack-jawed faces of our little darlings when they’ve been staring at a video game, a YouTube series, or a favorite Pixar movie for too long.
We’re all trying to monitor and limit our kids’ screen time to what seems reasonable. To say it’s not easy—especially when you throw in how tempting it can be to hand over that handheld, to just simply occupy them for a few brief moments when we’re harried beyond belief—is quite the understatement.
What’s a frazzled parent to do?
Podcasts written and produced for children are relatively new, but their audiences are growing fast, and there’s very good reason to believe that with quality “kidcasts,” children and parents can both get what they want: smart, entertaining content for children without the ever-present, mind-numbing screen. In the last 18 months The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times have published articles on the importance of verbal storytelling, the pleasures of being read to, and the podcast as bedtime story. NPR has produced several stories on how podcasts improve both the reading and writing skills of young, active listeners. And as if that couldn’t get any better, podcasts are free—simply search your podcast app and start listening.
You can find both fiction and nonfiction in kids’ podcasts—fairy tales, science-is-fun, how to meditate, riddles and brainteasers, and much more. What’s rare in kidcasts, however, is original, serial fiction, with recurring characters that listeners come to know well and care about. There are a few, however, including Akron Adventures, a new, serialized mystery kidcast.
Here are 3 reasons to give our Podcast a listen:
- Age-appropriate content the whole family can enjoy
Akron Adventures features four sixth grade best friends. Each season they stumble upon a new mystery in their town, which they solve through determination, reliance on one another, and a commitment to doing the right thing, even when it’s not easy to know what that is. Reggie, Lisa, Maya, and Henry are funny, smart, and curious, and listeners come to know them well as they navigate school, friendships, family, and the complexities of the world we all share. This combination makes for tangible listening experiences packed with real-life, easily-identifiable scenarios the whole family can get behind.
- Bite-sized episodes are ideal for busy schedules
We are in full back-to-school mode, which can be equally stressful for parents and kids as we’re all pulled in different directions for competing priorities. The good news is an episode of Akron Adventures can fit in just about anywhere—on the way to school, between extracurricular activities, or during a quick trip to the grocery store. Each 15 – 20-minute episode brings you—and the characters—one step closer to solving the case.
- These adventures can happen in anyone’s town
Akron Adventures is enjoyed far beyond it’s rich, Midwestern setting in Akron, Ohio, with listeners from San Francisco to Lebanon, Canada to New York, and beyond. The stories’ locations, experiences, and characters are all relatable. Like most kids, Reggie, Lisa, Henry, and Maya play in the park, go to school, ride their bikes, and visit their friends’ houses. And like most kids, they think their town is ordinary–until they run headlong into a mystery. The Akron Adventures podcast is exciting, and it encourages kids’ imaginations and curiosity about their own neighborhoods, their own towns—the world they live in.
Children’s Entertainment with a Purpose
The Akron Adventures podcast is original fiction written and produced by three women—teachers and authors—who are passionate about creating compelling, entertaining stories for kids that feature diverse, deeply-drawn characters and purposeful plots. Good storytelling teaches, enabling us to imagine who we might be, how we might treat others, and what the consequences of our actions could be. But that’s for the grown-ups. The kids get sound effects, music, comedy, friendship, suspense, and the occasional ghost in a carefully crafted, wildly entertaining romp, without a single screen in sight.