When it comes to children’s entertainment, the content supply can seem endless. On top of that, it’s also growing daily! Parents are often looking for more than just entertainment for their little ones. Good children's content should also nurture kids and enrich the childhood experience. The good news is that there is quality content out there. Finding the best streaming service for kids in a sea of options can be challenging, so we’ve done a bit of the heavy lifting for you.
Raising children can feel complicated these days, but one consistent element of childhood from time immemorial is the presence of stories. Whether they are told around the campfire, read aloud from books, produced in a 1940s radio show, or narrated by professionals, stories create space for children to explore and grow into the people we hope they’ll become. Although the days of “books on tape” have passed into memory, today parents can find a number of services that offer streaming audio stories for children. Would you like to explore the options with us?
Which Kids’ Streaming Service Is Right for You?
It can be difficult to know what’s best for you and your child’s needs. Here we review some of the top options for streaming children’s content and contrast with our own service, Sparkle Stories. Sparkle is an online library for high quality audio stories that are simply told and carefully crafted to be relevant to children’s lives. We focus on creating high quality, original content that is calming, developmentally appropriate, and supports growing young minds. It's the mission of Sparkle Stories to nourish children through media, not simply entertain (although, according to our listeners we accomplish that part beautifully as well!).
Although we hope to introduce you to our content at Sparkle, the research we have done in this article is truly designed to help you sort through the possibilities available for you today rather than simply casting our service in a positive light. That said, if Sparkle Stories sounds aligned with your family’s needs, we invite you to try 30 days of free, unlimited listening. You can sign up here using code SPARKLESTREAMING. You can also read more about us below!
The Best Options for Children's Streaming Services
If you are looking for a streaming service or entertainment option for kids that is aligned with a low-screen or screen-free lifestyle, there are several options. A handful of well-known, large platforms that offer audio-only stories for kids. Each of these platforms offers quite a variety and volume of content, although most if not all of it is licensed. Because of this, story quality can vary significantly story to story. Parents will likely want to pre-screen selections before playing them for kids.
Audible: Audiobooks For Kids
Many readers are probably already familiar with Amazon’s Audible as it is by far the largest seller of audiobooks for all ages. While Audible does not have a kid-only app or section, they do offer a wide variety of audiobooks for children of all ages. Many of the platforms in this article, including Sparkle Stories, don’t have a lot of content for children in their late teens. Audible stands out in having a lot of popular and long-form audiobooks in the young adult category.
- Very popular, most parents are familiar with it or already use it.
- They are a reseller and so popular stories are widely available.
- Extensive library that includes long-form young adult novels.
- App is easy to use and available on all platforms including for the Fire Tablet.
- No walled area or app for kids and so you wouldn’t want your kids browsing stories themselves as they would have access to age=inappropriate materials.
- Content isn’t original and from many different authors and storytellers and so quality and message can be inconsistent.
Pinna: Podcasts for Kids
Pinna is the only one of the major platforms that focuses exclusively on audio stories and books for children. This is due in part to their partnership with Scholastic. In addition to this, Pinna’s parent company owns outlets like Kaplan and Slate Magazine. Like Audible and Epic, they largely license content from third-parties. While they don’t have the same volume of recognizable stories as Audible, they do have content that might be recognizable to kids, such as stories based on mobile games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.
- A large library that is mostly licensed content but does have some quality original stories.
- Completely focused on audio content for kids.
- Their mobile apps are kid-friendly.
- No real focus on the pedological or lesson behind the stories.
- Stories produced by the Pinna team are high quality but the quality of the licensed stories varies.
Epic is unique in this list in that audio stories are not their only focus. They have a large library of books for kids to read or follow along with in addition to audio stories. If your child attends public school, they may already have access to a limited subscription. In fact, a large portion of Epic’s focus involves licensing their service to schools.
- Visual stories and read-a-long stories in addition to audio stories.
- Many licensed and popular stories.
- Kid-focused apps.
- Parents may prefer reading with their kids or physical books to increasing the amount of time the kids are in front of screens.
- Like the other two platforms, with licensed stories comes a variety of quality and less understanding of what your children are listening to.
With a library of over 1400 original audio-only stories, each Sparkle story contains a small seed of learning, including how to be kind to others, how to be respectful in thought, word, and deed, and how to live in wonder and reverence for this incredible world. Many stories are connected to a tutorial, craft, or recipe so the narrative experience does not end with the entertainment, but offers inspiration for further creativity and exploration. A streaming subscription provides unlimited access to all 1400+ audios plus access to all of the associated content.
- All original stories.
- Pedocological/lesson focus.
- Consistent quality.
- Associated content.
- Slow, gentle media.
- Excellent for sensitive kids.
- Engaged Sparkler community.
- Smaller library but over 1400 stories.
- No licensed stories of popular characters outside the Sparkle brand.
So many good options out there! We admire and appreciate the bigger platforms, as they provide constant inspiration for our stories and the Sparkle experience. We’re happy to be the “little sister” of the mix, proud of the consistency and thoughtfulness of our content. I encourage you to try all platforms, as there’s something for everyone. And if you feel that Sparkle is a good fit for your family, we invite you to try 30 days of free, unlimited listening. You can sign up here using code SPARKLESTREAMING.
About the Author
Jessica is a content creator, writer, strategist, and vintage pyrex collector. She has a passion for facilitating authentic connection, whether that's through her work at Sparkle Stories or her songwriting.