Short & Curly
For: Ages 5 – 10
It’s never too early to learn about ethics, and the folks at Short & Curly let you have all the fun while you’re at it, too. Ideal for parents and children to listen together, the podcast asks questions that parents probably field on a regular basis — ‘Do you have to love your sibling?’, ‘Is it ever okay to lie?’, ‘Is Dumbledore as great as he seems?’, ‘Should chimps have the same rights as kids?’, and ‘Can you trust a robot?’. The topics covered end up as great points of debate for both parents and children and will force kids to think about issues concerning pets, food, lifestyle, relationships, technology and self-identity.
For: Ages 5 and up
An award-winning audio show for kids and families, Brains On! encourages curiosity and the art of asking questions and poking at the status quo. Each week, a different child joins host Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world. The podcast’s aim is to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history. Fan favourite episodes cover topics like cats and their behaviour patterns, a raging debate that pits fire against laser, the science behind cooking, marine biology and electricity.
For: Ages 11 and up
If you’re a logophile or simply love your weekly dose of Scrabble, you need The Allusionist in your life. Through the podcast, host Helen Zaltzman relishes in the opportunity to really deep dive into the English language and the meanings and origins of the words that populate it. Handled with a practiced lightness and a large dose of humour, The Allusionist will make you fall in love with languages and marvel at the ways we communicate. The podcast features interviews with language experts, a segment that fields listener questions and words of the day.
Fun fact: Helen Zaltzman’s brother Andy Zaltzman co-hosts The Bugle, the popular satire and commentary podcast that makes for a good listen if you’d like to educate yourself while also having a good laugh.
For: Ages 11 and up
Speaking of words, make some noise for literature! The Book Fight podcast is basically writers talking about books. Each episode starts with a particular book, story or essay, chosen by either one of the hosts (Tom or Mike) or by one of the guests, though listeners don’t need to read the books to enjoy the show. The books themselves serve as jumping-off points for larger discussions about writing and reading: craft issues, the ins and outs of publishing, the contemporary literature scene, and so on and so forth. For those who are looking to go past their prescribed reading list of the school year, Book Fight is an ideal listening companion.
For: Ages 13 and up
Often described as “documentaries for your ears”, Radiolab weaves stories and science into sound and music-rich non-fiction episodes. Hosted by audio veterans Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the podcast enjoys such immense popularity and commands respect for its commitment to delivering high-quality audio with content that’s constantly trying to enrich people’s minds. Topics covered include everything from science and technology to relationships, politics and the general human condition.