When Amar Deshpande and his wife Mrunal had the idea of launching a podcast for children, they were not quite sure of where to begin. “During our research, we noticed that great audio content was missing in this space. It was either too loud or had overwhelming background music. So in 2017, we started Baalgaatha,” says Amar.
Now, over 200 stories and 3.5 lakh listens later, the podcast has been relaunched, with an increased focus on contemporary stories and regional language content. Their organic growth was achieved by sharing the weekly episodes through WhatsApp. Bengaluru-based Amar says that although they started out in English, with stories from thePanchatantra,Jataka TalesandHitopadesha, they quickly branched out to Hindi. “We then began including episodes about festivals like Holi or Easter, and personalities as well. What we learned from this experimentation was that a good mix of different content does well with parents and children,” he says.
Their new format will feature two stories a week in English, one in Hindi, and in July, will include a regional language — either Marathi or Telugu. “While Baalgaatha is for kids under eight, we’ve also launched a podcast for older children, called ‘Myths, Legends and Fairytales of India’. Both podcasts are syndicated to BookMyShow’s Jukebox app, Saavn and Storytel from Sweden, apart from being on iTunes,” says Amar. They have also launched a module in which people are invited to record and share their original stories, in an effort to create contemporary content. While there are international options aplenty, the market is open for more storytellers to get into the podcast space. The trick lies in knowing where to invest, he says, adding, “We started out with a 10-year-old laptop, but invested in a good microphone, soundproofing and sound engineers. This infrastructure is sufficient to create high quality audio content.” It is also important to not just fall back on traditional stories, but to create original content as well. “Start with familiar subjects, and once you have the confidence of your listeners, you can start experimenting,” he says.
As for the future, the Deshpandes have been in talks with non-profits in Karnataka to take these stories to municipal and rural schools. Amar says, “The advantage of audio is that it takes lesser bandwidth. We would like to be able to share it with teachers, who can use their smartphones to let their students listen to the stories. Hopefully, within a couple of years, we will be able to hear more Indian stories on the airwaves.”
Visit gaathastory.com for details and podcasts.
Pick a podcast
The choices for podcasts for children are growing, as parents want screen time reduced. “There are very popular ones like The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel , which is a a scripted podcast for and performed by middle grade students. NPR’s Wow in the World covers science, technology, discovery and inventions for five to 12 year olds,” Amar says. Here are a few more options that he recommends for kids of all ages.
Myths and Legends
Creator and host Jason Weiser narrates stories from myths, legends, and folklore from around the world. Learn about knights, wizards, dragons, and princesses and, learn about a new animal every week.
A show for stories, myths, poems, classic fairytales, adventures and romance. Narrated by Natasha Gostwick, who is occasioanlly joined by her friends, this weekly podcast has been on the top five list in many countries for quite some time.
Sesame Street Podcast
Listen to Elmo and friends in this weekly podcast. New episodes are published every Monday, and you can learn about friendship, as well as sing songs.
Storybooks from Pratham Books are published in multiple languages, and many of their books are available in audio format on this sister site. The new podcast called Books That Speak also features books by this publisher..
This website has been around for over a decade. You will find audio narrations of stories in the public domain, including classic childrens’ books such asThe Adventures of Tom SawyerandAesop’s Fables. Each book is narrated in a serialised form by volunteers from around the world.
Show About Science
Young scientist Nate, who is all of six years old, interviews scientists and thinkers from around the world. This show explores a wide array of topics ranging from chemistry to climate change, and human brains to space travels. This is a great show for curious kids.
Disney Story Central
This show wraps up the list of noteworthy podcasts. Each episode brings to you a favourite Disney or Pixar storybook, which is read out aloud by host Marie Westbrook.
Reconnect with characters from Moana,Frozen and other amazing stories.