While my son and I were driving across town the other day, he decided he doesn’t want to grow up to be an adult.
“Then when you drive somewhere, you have to actually drive the car,” he complained. “You can’t do anything else. You can’t even play with toys! It’s so boring.”
“You can listen to podcasts,” I told him. “It’s the perfect time to listen to podcasts.”
I’ve been wanting to introduce him to podcasts for some time. He’s the sort of kid who plays while he watches TV, so he tends to listen to a show more than fully watch the show. Plus, he loves to read and create his own comic books, so storytelling in general is something that he, like most kids, is very much into.
Since I didn’t know where to start — or what he’d be drawn to — I decided to try the 30-day free trial of Pinna, which is a new ad-free, audio streaming service for kids aged three to eight.
Pinna has a pretty impressive variety of podcasts, audiobooks and music. There are interview shows, serial mystery shows, game shows and several books that have long been favourites in our home, such as Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Curious George and National Geographic’s book on dinosaurs for kids.
So on the day my son decided that being an adult is boooooring, I happened to be armed and ready with a slew of entertainment to both prove him wrong and get him hooked on audio-storytelling.
What we’re into
He starts off each episode with an explanation (in a somewhat creepy tone of voice) that the stories he tells are “weird and sometimes gross and often scary… in other words, they’re grim.”
The first time my son, who is eight, heard the intro, he insisted I turn it off. He was afraid it was going to be too scary. His curiosity got the better of him 10 minutes later, though, and he asked to give it another try. Each story is rated on a scale of least scary (grimm) to most scary (grimmest), so you kind of know what you’re getting into.
We haven’t listened to a “grimmest” episode yet but the “grimm” and “grimmer” are not at all too scary. Having the kids on the show interject with predictions and reactions helps to break up the story and add in a little humour; my son binge-listened to four episodes (two in the car and then two more when we got home).
Next, we tried an interview show called Good Sport that features pro-athletes talking about what they were like as kids.
I honestly didn’t think he would get into it, but he loves sports, so he wanted to try it. We started with Marty Bennett from the Green Bay Packers who told a story about chasing pigs on his grandparents’ farm as a kid.
My son was silent as he listened, and I thought he was bored until he said, “I’m picturing this like a cartoon in my head.” It was exactly the sort of imagination-booster I was hoping for.
You can search Pinna’s content by age or category, and he likes to scroll through all the options. Most recently, he’s started listening to the audio books; he spent a half hour last night listening to Captain Underpants. Others I’m going to suggest he try next are Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy and Hi! Fly Guy.
After the free 30 days is up, if you don’t want to spend the $US8 ($11) a month/$US80 ($113) a year for a subscription (I’m currently debating this, as well), you can still get free access to many of Pinna’s original podcasts, such as Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest, The Show About Science, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel and Molly and the Sugar Monster.