It's election week! I know that this can be a big topic and might feel like it's too challenging to tackle with kids but whoa does it feel like an important topic to us! The goal of our podcast recommendations is to provide you (parents, caregivers, and kids) with tools to help guide or kick-start conversations about politics, policies, and elections. The episodes listed here are all suitable for kids, but you may want to co-listen with younger kids. I might even recommend listening with your older kids as well if you are looking for ways to connect and then talk about what you've heard.
Before I dive in, I want to note that my early memories of civics lessons are from the popular Schoolhouse Rock! series. I realize that this may date me, but honestly, who here learned from this series and can't summon these lyrics today? Maybe don't show the kids the more current version of the process 😂!
The modern-day version of Schoolhouse Rock is the podcast Electoral Elementary. The 6-episode series follows 10-year-old Gloria Martinez as she tries to fix issues at her elementary school. After a discouraging conversation with her principal, she realizes the only way she will see change is to make it herself. Throughout the series, as Gloria runs for student body president, listeners learn about primary elections, general (or school-wide) elections, setting up an administration, and the process of trying to create new rules and programs and the lessons that occur in the process.
Another wonderful series is the Fina Mendoza Mysteries, a podcast based on the middle-grade novel, Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza, written by Kitty Felde. The book and podcast give kids a look at some of the inner workings and quirks of life on Capitol Hill. Fina is the 10-year-old daughter of a fictional congressman who moves his family from Southern California to Washington, D.C. The podcast series starts its first season with a mystery in the Capitol. The second season focuses on the State of the Union. Two recent episodes follow Fina (as she participates virtually in a school project) 👀 and her classmates as they choose the research topic: why people don't vote. Their work inspires them to try and convince people to lower the voting age so they can make a difference.
This podcast is a great conversation starter for parents and families and there is also a detailed teaching guide as well.
The long-running But Why? A Podcast for Curious Kids is a podcast that answers kids' questions about EVERYTHING! Kids ask, "Who makes the laws?", "Who invented the President?" and "Why can't kids vote?" These episodes have really great information but were created in 2016, 2019, and 2020, and may reference former elections, candidates, and presidents.
Who Invented the President?
Who Makes the Laws?
Why Can't Kids Vote
You can find show transcripts and learning guides for many of the episodes here.
The Children's Hour is a time investment, but for those who dive in, I hope you'll agree the shows are WORTH it! If you have not discovered this show, do me a favor, and please queue it up for your kids this weekend when you have an hour to listen together. TCH is a radio show broadcast live on Saturday mornings at KUNM, a public radio station at the University of New Mexico. Each show is a mix of music, jokes, original songs (related to the weekly topic), and interviews.
TCH is produced by Katie Stone and a dedicated "kids crew" that consists of 30-ish young people, ranging in age from 4 to 18, who help write scripts, interview guests, and help with a variety of technical aspects to help produce the show. Locals have been able to listen to the broadcast live on Saturday mornings since 2001 and the show has been available in a weekly podcast feed since 2015. The episodes listed below were released in late 2020 and early 2021, so may have a few dated references.
As an added bonus to the shows listed below, the Children's Hour crew created a radio musical during the pandemic lockdown. Read more about it here. I haven't listened to it yet, but it's at the top of my playlist. It is part of a small number of podcasts that include a learning guide.
Lastly, a Curious Kid Podcast is another incredibly informative show. It is hosted by 9-year-old Olivia and her dad, Jacob. The dynamic duo has been hosting this podcast for over 4 years (with 9 seasons and 267 episodes)! 😁 In 2020 Olivia's mom created a series of short (around 5 minutes) episodes profiling each of the United States Presidents. I won't list them all here - but you can link to the show's website to view episodes.
That's a wrap on our recommendations for the week. I would like to leave you with a few things before I sign off.
Storitopia is a proud member of Kids Listen, a grassroots organization that advocates for high-quality audio content for children. The Kids Listen community is made of creators, educators, parents, and people who care deeply about kids' audio. Many of the members of this community came together to create and share this message about the upcoming midterm elections. Please go to vote.org and make your voting plan today.