Happy Fall! I’m writing this month’s blog to offer two high-quality media recommendations for families as we dive in to the school year — a podcast “The Curious Kid,” and a PBS show, “Molly of Denali.” Read on to learn more about why these might be good programs for your family! 

‘Curious Kid Podcast’ ideal in content, length

This podcast is available for download on various platforms.

“The Curious Kid Podcast” was recommended to me by our neighbor, whose young kids (age five and seven) love to listen to it on road trips.

It’s an inquiry-based show hosted by Jacob and Olivia, a father and daughter from New Jersey. Each episode covers one topic in detail. Topics include Trains, Mail, Elevators, Volcanoes, The Flu and everything in between.

The hosts intentionally speak slowly and clearly, and Olivia, age five, and her dad each do about half of the talking. We love the podcast because it’s short (around 10 minutes), informative, easy to understand, and kids tend to enjoy hearing a young voice like theirs. My daughters’ favorite so far was “Curious About Toilets” where they learned about a scientific study that concluded the first stall is usually the cleanest (and maybe you can figure out why before you hear the episode)!  I find this suitable for kids aged four to 14.

PBS offers ‘Molly of Denali’ as unique program

Next, I will recommend a new PBS kids show called “Molly of Denali.” It centers around Molly Mabray, a 10-year-old Alaska native, living in Alaska.

We discovered the show through my wife’s academic advisor, a nationally recognized literacy specialist, who worked as a consultant on the show. It stands out to me for two major reasons: One, it’s the first national program to feature a primary cast of first-nations and minority voice actors and characters. Additionally, Native American culture and traditions are often crucial to the plot of the characters’ adventures. 

‘Molly of Denali’ helps develop literacy skills.

The other thing I love about this show is its focus on developing literacy skills in kids. Its characters solve mysteries and problems using informational texts, and many scenes feature them using internet technology, the local library, primary texts or even learning how to revise and adjust search queries. It works really well, the show is beautifully animated and every episode has a live-action segment in the middle. It’s aimed at ages 4-8, but could be engaging above that. It also has a companion podcast, which my girls loved. 

I hope you find something useful in these recommendations, and I hope that all parents can be thoughtful and intentional when deciding which media to allow their kids to experience. As my daughters grow, I hope we as parents can continue to help them think through which types of media they consume, and so far these are two of the best! 

Paul Hanna is a science/STEM teacher with New Morning School, Plymouth, MI. He can be reached at paul@newmorningschool.com.