I’m going to make an admission that might make you gasp. I hate reading to my kids at bedtime.
I do. I hate it. I don’t hate reading to my kids, I love reading to them at other times in the day, I just hate doing it at bedtime. To be completely honest (I mean, I’ve already admitted to being a monster), by the time I wrangle my six-year-old into PJs, get him into bed and settled down, I’m exhausted and frustrated and all I’m thinking about is getting him to go to sleep so I can chill.
I don’t feel like being a narrator. I don’t feel like holding the book, I don’t feel like doing funny voices, I don’t feel like waiting for forty-seven hours while he chooses a book, I’m just done and he needs to sleep. But is that fair to him? Isn’t having bedtime stories a right of passage? And so enters that familiar battle between self-care and mom guilt.
Then I discovered the miracle of bedtime story podcasts. What? I can delegate this job to someone else – someone who is a far better narrator than I am anyway? This discovery has been a game-changer. Now, instead of me begrudgingly and with frustration rushing through a book, or skipping it and feeling bad, we lay down in the dark and listen to a story together.
The Awesome Benefits of Bedtime Podcasts
Even beyond the lack of frustration, there are advantages to these podcasts. There are no pictures, for one. Why is that an advantage? Because they can be listened to in total darkness, which helps my son chill out and relax, preparing for sleep. He falls asleep much faster after a podcast story in the dark than a picture book in the light. Plus, the lack of pictures encourages him to use his imagination, preparing him for the novels he is nearly ready to start reading.
There’s also the time factor. I can see how long it is going to take for the story to be done. You can’t always tell with a picture book, but with a podcast episode, it’s right there. Need a faster bedtime? Choose a five-minute story. Have more time? Go with one that’s half an hour. I even use this ability as an incentive for getting ready for bed faster.
Of course, these podcasts don’t take the place of reading to my child, there is still a lot of value in sitting down and sharing a book we can hold in our hands and marvel at the illustrations – but they have been a God-send for bedtimes.
Some of our favourite podcasts for kids:
What If World
This is our hands-down favourite. The premise is simple and brilliant: Narrator and creator, Mr. Eric, has kids call in or email with something they like and a “what if” question, like, “What if Legos were alive?” or, “What if kids were nocturnal?”, and then he creates a story using this information. Mr. Eric is a truly gifted narrator, creating unique voices for each character, compelling stories, and even some subtle pop culture references for the parents. This is the one my son requests most often, and with good reason.
Little Stories for Tiny People
These stories vary more widely in length, making it a great choice if you are looking for a quick story or longer experience. Some of them include a moral lesson, like “The Robot Who Had Feelings”, and some are just fun. This podcast is narrated with a soft voice, making it a good choice for bedtime.
As the name suggests, these are kid-friendly biographies and history lessons. They include high-profile people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Dian Fossey, the histories of holidays, current celebrities, events, wonders of the world – anything or anyone who has a back story. This podcast is full of great information – and it’s a little less animated than the fiction podcasts, making it a good wind-down for bedtime. I like this one because it is engaging enough for my son to want to listen to it, but monotonous enough that he sometimes falls asleep listening.
Many of the stories in this podcast are rooted in folk tales around the world. “The Love Potion” is based on an Ethiopian fable, “The Great Pooka Rescue” comes from Irish lore, “One of Us” is a story about an old Turkish proverb and more. Also included are takes on more familiar classic stories, such as “Peter Rabbit” and “Snow White.”
Be Calm on Ahway Island
This podcast combines stories with meditation. Admittedly, my son caught on to the trick with this one, and prefers the straight stories; but if meditation and mindfulness is something your child enjoys, this is a great chance to practice it alongside entertaining stories.