Top Kids and Family Podcasts (September 2016)

Sliding in just under the wire, it's time for a September look at the nebulously-ranked world of podcasts.  This month's list differs slightly from last month's list of top-ranked kids and family podcasts.  For the most part, the order is the same, and the rankings of these particular podcasts within the "kids and family" charts in the iTunes and Stitcher kids and family charts are generally in the same range as last month.

On the downside, none of the podcasts here ranked within the "all podcasts" chart, which is a change from past months, when they sometimes did.  But the number of podcasts on one of the two lists ticked up to 29, an all-time high, up from 22 in June.

As always: this is a blunt instrument, combining pure rankings from two fairly opaque charts, and for a variety of reasons has only marginal value as a measure of quality.  (Results compiled from Top 100 podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts on Wednesday, September 29, 2016.  Podcasts that appear on both charts are listed with numbers; remaining podcasts only appeared on one list.)

Two other reminders:

1.  If you're looking for a list that has most (or all) of these podcasts, check out my comprehensive list of podcasts for kids.

2. If you're interested in the future of podcasts for kids, you might be interested in Kids Listen, a grassroots organization of podcasters and folks like me interested in helping high-quality audio for children thrive.  We're looking for other interested folks -- producers or otherwise -- to join in!

With that out of the way, let's get to the chart.

1. Stories Podcast

2. Brains On

3. Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified

4. Storynory

5. Tumble

6. Story Time

7. (tie) The Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids

7. (tie) Story Pirates

9. The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd 

Others (listed alphabetically): 1001 Classic Short Stories and Tales, Activated Stories, Bedtime History, Book Club for Kids, But Why, Children Stories and Joyful, Children's Fun Storytime, Ear Snacks, Family Folk Tales, Grimms' Fairy Tales, Little Stories for Tiny People, Molly and the Sugar Monster, Official Adventures in Odyssey, Podcast Kid, Porters Podcast, The Secret Diaries of Tara Tremendous, Short & Curly, Spare the Rock Spoil the Child, Sparkle Stories, The Story Home, That Story Show

Monday Morning Smile: "Vote for Jim Gill" - Jim Gill

Vote for Jim Gill cover

Vote for Jim Gill cover

As you're aware, usually these Monday Morning Smiles are not kid-music-specific, but when I saw this video from Jim Gill, I knew that this movement-based song would be perfect for this morning of the first presidential debate of 2016.  It's a bit of "Vote for Jim Gill," the title track from his brand-new album, and it's tailor-made for playing during the ad breaks in tonight's debate.

It even includes a baby-kissing politician.  Seriously -- couldn't be more appropriate for this evening's event.

Jim Gill - "Vote for Jim Gill" [YouTube]

Video: "Superhero" - The Laurie Berkner Band

Superhero album cover

Superhero album cover

It's September 23, a very busy day for Laurie Berkner.  Her new album Superhero is released today, featuring a bunch of brand-new original songs and duets with folks like Ziggy Marley, Kira Willey, and Brady Rymer.  (You can read more about the album in this interview with Berkner.)  She's launched a Kickstarter project to bring 5 concerts featuring her to hospitals and special needs schools.  Berkner is donating her time, so the Kickstarter money will help pay for all the other stuff -- sound crew, travel costs, etc.  (You can donate CDs to hospitals, get signed CDs, and superhero capes, among other cool swag.)

One of those things would be enough for a Friday morning, and two is a lot, but why not do a third thing?  So Berkner's debuting her video for the album's title track today.  The song's got a zippy, catchy chorus and features cute kids wearing capes.  That's enough for me and probably the nearest preschooler.

The Laurie Berkner Band - "Superhero" [YouTube]

Interview: Amy Lee

Amy Lee and rubber duckie friend

Amy Lee and rubber duckie friend

I will admit that Amy Lee was not high on my list of artists I expected to release a kids' album, but after doing this for fifteen years, I probably shouldn't have been, given the long list of artists who have dipped their toes into the kindie pool.

Of course, the idea that Amazon Music would be a thing, much less the entity releasing Dream Too Much, Lee's entry into the kids music world, would have been fanciful fifteen years ago as well.

So let us accept that the co-founder and lead singer of Evanescence has brought her powerful voice to bear on songs about bees, ducks, donkey, chickens, and more.  The album was inspired in part by the birth of her son Jack, whose toddler brain came up with lines like "monkey in the band" and "muffins are sleeping" that found their way into the title track.  Dream Too Much the album is available to Amazon Prime members for streaming and the rest of the world to purchase on September 30, but you can read a few thoughts from Lee below on growing up, song inspirations, and his son's favorite instrument.

Zooglobble: What are your first musical memories of growing up?

Amy Lee: You know, one of the things that had a real impact on me as a little girl was Fraggle Rock.  I used to watch it before school when I was 6 or 7.  I have realized, seeing it again as an adult, how awesome and musical it was.  There was an original song in just about every episode, and there was so much depth and creativity in it.  Jim Henson is one of my all time heroes.  Even as a kid, what's always attracted me to music most is when it digs into your soul and makes you feel.  My first favorite songs were by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, The Temptations, Whitney Houston, Jeff Healey....

How did you go about choosing the songs for Dream Too Much?

Well all of the originals were totally inspired by my 2 year old son, Jack.  I was writing those songs before I knew I wanted to make an album just naturally, to connect with him. Then it became this fun, elaborate project, and my mission was always making music I thought he would love. Most of the songs we chose to cover relate to my childhood memories and my family.  "Rubber Duckie" and "Goodnight My Love" are both songs my dad sung and played to all of us kids when we were young, many times.  I wanted to get a good recording of my dad doing those for us all to have forever, that was the original reason that my father and I got together to record this year. 

What your musical hopes and dreams for your son?

I just want him to follow his heart and do what makes him really happy, whether that's music or not.  Of course I would LOVE for him to grow into a musician and take an interest in that.  Music is a huge part of my life so it would be really amazing to share that interest.  He already seems to have rhythm, if that's even possible.  Maybe its just a toddler thing but he absolutely loves drums and percussion. Hitting stuff and making different sounds. I love it!

Photo credit: Drew Reynolds