Podcasts are a great way to keep everyone happy during a long car ride. And if you can find one that keeps kids of different ages entertained, and doesn't make the adults in the car want to stab themselves in the ear, well then, you might just make it over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house without a meltdown.
As parents, that's all we want for the holidays.
We asked Maggie McGuire, CEO of Pinna, an audio streaming service for children, for her kids' podcast recommendations. She rounded up her top picks, both from her own company and elsewhere:
1. Story Pirates
This podcast is pure fun. If you are a fan of sketch comedy and musicals, then this podcast brings both together in half-hour episodes that are silly, wacky, filled with music and always surprising. A BIG bonus is that the ideas for each episode are written by kids who submit them to the Story Pirates in the hopes of seeing their stories brought to life by a troupe of professional actors, storytellers and comedians.
2. Hero Hotel
In this fiction, comedy, adventure podcast, listeners meet Chet Zebrowski, who works at his Grandma Zee's hotel for superheroes. When trash monsters, glam-rock singers and static-electric villains invade the hotel — all while the heroes are on vacation and unwilling to lift a finger — it's up to Chet and his super-power cat Boomer to save the day. This podcast is packed with superheroes, villains who need to be stopped, big laughs, cliffhangers, talking cats and more.
3. Brains On!
This is a must-listen podcast for curious kids. Every episode delves into why and how things work, where things come from and so much more. The topics are wide-ranging, which makes it great for any kid. They can learn how elevators work, the design ideas behind roller coasters and why some of us feel sick when we're riding them and much more.
The whole family joins in as contestants in this audio game show, whose episode themes run the gamut from "Outerspace Invaders" to "You're Gonna Eat That," "Heading to Hogwarts and "The Pets We Get" and so many more. Listeners are encouraged to shout out answers as hosts Natalie and Ezequiel pose fun-filled challenges and tricky trivia questions designed for ages 8-12. If you're looking for topics for younger kids, there's also ExtraBlurt Junior for ages 5-8.
5. Mother Tongue with Sirine
This podcast takes listeners around the world to learn new words in new languages in every episode. Listeners will learn about culture, music, food and language and are encouraged to respond to host Sirine's calls to sing, speak and repeat throughout each episode. Languages learned include Italian, Koori, Hindi, Arabic, Samoan and many more. Storytelling, song and music help reinforce the new words learned and expand listeners' understanding of global cultures.
6. Animal Safari
This podcast is chock-full of delightful animal knowledge, along with some weird, wacky and slightly gross facts (the very kind kids will love). Listeners find out all about the luckiest cat in the world, how sloths go from slackers to superstars and what odd noises cute, fluffy koalas make. This podcast also takes listeners around the globe and slips in cool facts about habitats and the geographical locations where each animal lives.
7. Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest
This is a wildly enchanting fairy tale podcast featuring Adam Gidwitz, bestselling author of "A Tale Dark & Grimm." Weaving in and out of a classroom of witty grade-schoolers and a world full of curious creatures and mischievous foes, each episode features a fairy tale retold with a surprising flourish. Listeners follow along as the students anticipate plot twists and question the logic of these Grimm tales.
8. Smash, Boom, Best
This is a debate show for kids and families and in every episode, two cool things get "smashed together" and you decide which one is best. Cats vs. Dogs? Pizza vs. Tacos? You decide along with kids who debate with passion to make their case.
9. Tara Tremendous: The Secret Diaries
When 11-year-old Tara Callahan accidentally acquires the powers of every superhero in the world, her life goes from ordinary to extraordinary. Filled with mystery, action, adventure and comedy, "Tara Tremendous: The Secret Diaries" is a musically-infused audio serial for the whole family.
10. Don't Break the Rules
Listeners tune into laughs, burps and the occasional unicorn as four voice actors create new characters for every episode of this comedy-improv game show. This is funny, silly, co-listening fun.