Growing up in Michigan, Uncle Charlie’s “Keys for Kids” radio show was a weekly tradition. With legs stuck to the Naugahyde car seats, we listened on the way to church as a children’s choir belted out an old-timey hymn accompanied by a Hammond organ. Uncle Charlie then read aloud a short story for kids. And because everything old is new again, audio stories are coming back! Only the new generation isn’t one person reading, it’s like the child of a podcast and an audiobook, or a radio show with better sound effects and your favorite book characters. Radio-style dramas are not only captivating and fun, but they are a great vehicle for encouraging character formation and spiritual growth. Audio dramas are also perfect for car rides, long flights, or when kids are doing chores like folding laundry or doing dishes. They’re also great for quiet times or nap times if you have a little one who needs a little help decompressing or sitting still for a while.
A modernized version of Keys for Kids is still around, and listeners can either tune in to the live broadcast or download the app to hear a handful of different Christian radio dramas. There are also many wonderful audio drama options that aren’t overtly religious but teach qualities like persistence, kindness, and friendship. Famous voice talents lend their voices to the Circle Round podcast, which showcases folktales from around the world and BBC School Radio has a number of lovely classics, such as Aesop’s Fables and Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Also the BBC’s audio stories have a small selection of Bible-themed topics, including a Roman soldier’s view of Jesus and the story of Saint Andrew. You can lose yourself for hours amongst the hundreds of family-friendly educational and literary audio selections, all free and available for streaming.
Many of the more popular Christian children’s audio dramas and radio shows you’ll find out there are from an evangelical perspective and reflect that viewpoint. As with all Christian books and recordings, you’ll want to take a look (or listen) first to determine if the message and world view is one you support. And here’s an idea: could creatives in the Episcopal Church—actors, writers, storytellers—consider using their considerable talents to produce their own unique material? Imagine dramas about the lives of the saints or global tales of Christian life. How about dramatizing some of our great Forward Movement titles? What stories would you—or your children—love to hear? What podcasts, audiobooks, and audio dramas do you enjoy?