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Listening to podcasts improves listening comprehension, literacy, and academic language

Podcasts are not just for listening!

Research has shown that podcasts have the potential to be a powerful tool for teachers in their classrooms. During the 2020 pandemic, School Library Journal contributors Pamela Rogers and Anne Bensfield, observed that "podcasts can help educators engage learners from afar" and research shows that listening to podcasts improves listening comprehension, literacy, and academic language.

The truth is podcasts can also be a powerful tool for sparking joy and learning at home. A quintessential 21st century, easy and accessible form of oral storytelling, podcasts capture the magic of sharing stories around a campfire! They can bring families together. They are screen free. And, they can be used to jumpstart curiosity and imagination!

I was inspired to create Story Seeds because I believe that children deserve to see empowering models of deep listening and collaboration.

I also hoped that by unboxing the creative process, the on-air collaboration between beloved authors and young people would inspire kids to nurture and grow their own stories and creativity. To help extend the listening experience, each of the original stories featured on The Story Seeds Podcast ends on a cliffhanger, allowing listeners to imagine (or write) what happens next.

But podcasts are not just for listening!

As a producer, I also wanted to create a companion activity book that would combine the best of a journal, magazine, and workbook. Imagination Lab: Experiments in Creativity gives young people story organizers, creative writing prompts, author tips, short nonfiction and fiction reads, discussion starters, and STEAM activities to explore, imagine, write, and create.

According to a Kids Listen survey, 74 percent of young podcast listeners remain highly engaged with the material they listen to, either by telling others what they’ve learned, seeking out more information after listening, or requesting to do an activity inspired by the podcast.

Though the Story Seeds activity book has been featured in Parents, VeryWell Family, Good Housekeeping, and Principal Leadership magazines, as a mom myself, it’s the feedback I get from parents that reinforces my profound belief that podcasts are not just for listening. For example, Karen Alexander, a mother of three, recently wrote to me to say:

"We love the podcasts and the activity book is honestly the best and unlike any other I've purchased. ...What's not to love? It's diverse, portable, open-ended, screen-free, creative & cool!"

The book is widely available now, and whether you are homeschooling your child or looking for a little extra something to engage them, I hope you’ll check it out and I hope it sparks creativity at home or during your family traveling adventures! And, if your child has a podcast idea that they are looking to grow this summer, check out Story Seeds “Summer of Podcasts” camp offerings for June, July, and August where kids will be inspired and learn what it takes to create their own podcasts.

After all, creativity is—in the words of the late educationist and author, Sir Ken Robinson—”the 21st century skill we need to solve today’s problems.”

P.S. As a Pinna listener you get 30% off your purchase of Imagination Lab: Experiments in Creativity. Order your copy today at and use the code PINNASEED

Sandhya Nankani

Sandhya Nankani

Sandhya Nankani is the creator and executive producer of The Story Seeds Podcast and founder of the inclusive children’s media studio Literary Safari. Now on Pinna, Story Seeds matches beloved authors with children and their story ideas. On each episode, authors and kids meet up to brainstorm and grow a “story seed,” and listeners follow along as an author chronicles their writing process and writes a story inspired by the meeting. Story Seeds has been featured in Wired (Best Podcasts for Kids), The Week Junior (2020 Podcast of the Year), and The New York Times (Best Podcasts for Sheltering in Place).