By Andrea Hunt
For story lovers, podcasts are a treasure trove of high quality, original, and often free narrative audio entertainment—and there are many shows that will delight even the youngest listeners. Kids’ story podcasts (the most popular category of podcasts among children, according to a recent survey) are a fantastic opportunity for toddlers and preschoolers to discover stories. Plus, they also offer a valuable chance to hone early reading skills along the way.
If you explore kids’ story podcasts, you’ll notice there’s a lot of choice, which is where this hand-picked list comes in! Browse our suggestions for a place to start, and be sure to let us know if you find other great options. Once you find shows you and your little one like, check out their websites, too—many of them offer bonus materials and activities to enrich children’s listening experiences.
Before you get started, though, a few tips: Many kids’ story podcasts cater to quite broad age ranges, so it pays to be selective about which episodes to play for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s worth listening beforehand and making a playlist of episodes you think might work for your child, in terms of length, age suitability, content, format, and presentation style. Playlists also come in handy if your child enjoys revisiting episodes, or if they want to be able to play episodes for themselves.
For young kids new to podcasts, you could also begin with episodes that cover stories they already know—retellings of classic tales or adaptations of picture books they can follow along with. When possible, choose settings that allow for minimal interruptions from advertising messages or discussion by the hosts, which can be distracting.
Created by parents of young kids, this free podcast is international in outlook, putting on lesser-known folktales from around the world. Featuring music, sound effects, and often well-known narrators, each weekly 15- to 25-minute episode explores a theme such as kindness or gratitude, and ends with a suggestion for an activity based around the message. Narration is on the quick side, so older preschoolers will probably find it easier to follow than toddlers.
The talented team at this free podcast take “stories written by kids and turn them into sketch comedy and songs” for listeners “aged 3 to 103.” The lively 30- to 40-minute shows often feature famous contributors, and each episode includes two stories, interviews with the authors, plus story prompts for children to make up their own tales. (Related: Read about how making up stories builds joy, connection, and literacy.) Little listeners might not follow everything, but are still likely to enjoy the silliness and enthusiasm, requesting their favorite episodes and songs on repeat.
Traditional tales meet classical music in this monthly podcast sharing free kids’ audio stories. This is a great option for toddlers or kids just starting out with audio. Each episode is short, usually under 10 minutes, the pace of the narration is measured, and many of the stories—like The Tortoise and the Hare and The Gingerbread Man—may already be familiar to even very young listeners.
With both classic stories and original creations for children of all ages, this free weekly podcast features serialized as well as stand-alone tales. There’s no music, but the narration is dramatic and engaging, so these strike a good balance between being easy to follow and fun. Most episodes come in under 20 minutes, with occasional bumper shows that are great for road trips.
This podcast shares children’s books, introduced by a boy named Benny and his dog Buddy, and always with some connection to them or what they’re doing—for example, they introduce Ezra Jack Keats’ classic Whistle for Willie as they practice playing fetch. Each of the eight episodes is under 10 minutes, making this a good option for toddlers, especially if they have a hard copy of the picture book on hand to help them follow along. We’ve primarily featured free podcasts for kids, but this show is featured on the paid audio-streaming service Pinna, which also features children’s audiobooks.
Yoga teacher and educator Chanel Tsang shares relaxation stories on this free podcast. Each episode starts with a short meditation, and kids are invited to interact with the story through actions and visualization. Running at around 20 minutes each, to soothing background music, these are a nice option for quiet time or pre-bedtime listening.
With original free kids’ audio stories for children aged 2 to 12, each episode in this biweekly podcast by Bedtime FM is under 20 minutes long, making it a great choice for toddlers and preschoolers. Perfect for winding down, the shows keep music to a minimum in favor of clear narration.
Though aimed largely at children aged 7 to 11, this extremely long-running and free story podcast also puts on lots of nursery rhymes and simpler stories that preschoolers and even toddlers will enjoy. Relatively pared back in terms of music and sound effects, the emphasis is on clear, measured narration by actors. Each episode varies in length from around 5 to 20 minutes.
The international team behind this free weekly podcast puts on a hugely fun and immersive listening experience—featuring stories from around the world, each one presented as a mini radio play by a full cast of children. With lively sound effects and most episodes coming in at under 15 minutes, this is a popular choice for toddlers and up.
What are your family’s favorite kids’ story podcasts and why? We’d love to know!
Andrea Hunt is a writer, editor, and storytimer who shares and reviews picture books in the margins of work and family life (@hellobookcub on Instagram).