Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Keep the Kids from Fighting in the Back Seat or Podcasts for Kids

The ALA Annual Conference is full of inspiration, networking, and ideas. It is also overwhelming. It usually takes me a few weeks to process everything I’ve heard and learned. One session I’ve been thinking a lot about was “Kids Listen: Podcasts Amplify Engagement and Learning.” My library has had a podcast for several years. We are up to Episode 103! While not exclusively for kids, we occasionally have episodes with a kid audience in mind or that are about children’s materials or programs. We are fortunate to have a great audio engineer on staff, Benny, who makes us sound professional. At the beginning we had the lofty goal of producing a podcast every two weeks. Yeah, that didn’t happen. One of the main things I got out of the session was validation that podcasts take a lot of time to produce and I shouldn’t feel bad that we are not able to keep up a regular schedule. Whew!

Kids interview George O’Connor for a podcast

I also learned about a few really awesome podcasts made for kids and by kids. Most of these are between 10 and 20 minutes long, which is the sweet spot for kids’ attention and also about the time it takes for most people to get to school or the grocery store. The three below are aimed at school aged children. Shout out to Anne Bensfield, Children’s Digital Learning Librarian at Oak Park Public Library, for moderating the panel of podcast hosts and producers.

  • Book Club for Kids is what I wanted the STPL podcast to be. Why invent the wheel, when they do a fabulous job? Middle grade kids discuss books. There are also instructions on the website for recording and submitting kids’ short reviews, which can also be done by simply leaving a voicemail message.
  • Brains On! is an award winning STEM podcast for kids made by American Public Media. Listener favorite episodes include the science of farts, lasers, cats, and books. Kids can submit questions and mystery sounds.
  • Buttons & Figs is all about word play, nonsense literature, and books. Think onomatopoeia, tongue twisters, collective nouns, puns, etc. It is created by children’s librarians so you know it is fun.

Finally, we also heard from Jose Rodriguez, an educator at the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Ambassador School of Global Education. He uses podcasts and blogs to facilitate learning and for students to make connections. He inspired me to think about how I can partner with my local schools using the public library’s podcasting resources.

What’s really neat is that you don’t have to have a Benny at your library or put a ton of production time into a podcast. Your kids can still be involved by contributing to the podcasts listed above and others. Want to learn about more podcasts for kids? Kids Listen is a non-profit listening app and clearing house of over 40 podcasts for and by kids. In case you missed it, there was an article about kids’ podcasts in the February 2018 issue of School Library Journal ( ALSC is offering a free webinar called Podcast Playground in September which will be led by Bensfield.

Has your library begun work on podcasts? Tell us about what you’re doing in the comments below.

(Credit for photo: St. Tammany Parish Library)

Headshot of guest blogger Tanya DiMaggio
Guest blogger photo courtesy of St. Tammany Parish Library.

Today’s guest blogger is Tanya DiMaggio. Tanya is the Children’s Services Coordinator at St. Tammany Parish Library in Covington, Louisiana. Contact her at Listen to the STPL podcast at

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: II. Reference and User Services and III. Programming Skills.


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