I have two small kids, we spend a lot of time in the car, and we listen to a LOT of podcasts. There are some fantastic podcasts available for kids these days, and one of our very favorites is NPR’s Wow in the World. It’s all about science and scientific discovery, but told in a super-fun, goofy and imaginative way. I was already familiar with one of the hosts, NPR reporter Guy Raz, but his co-host Mindy Thomas was new to me. Turns out, she’s a total rockstar of the kid audio world: she has her own self-titled show on Sirius XM, AND she’s recently created a new podcast called Highlights Hangout with Highlights Magazine. As you might imagine, Mindy is pretty fun.
On how she decided what to be when she “grew up”:
“So when I was in fourth grade, I wanted to be on the news. I wanted to be a news reporter or a news anchor, and someone was like, ‘well, that’s a broadcast journalist.’ So I remember making a diorama in fourth grade of me as a broadcast journalist, and I just kept throwing around that word. About the year before that, I got really into radio. You could watch this one radio morning show on TV, on the public access channel, where I was growing up in Tampa, Florida. And I would get up every morning and watch that, so TV, radio, I knew I wanted to go in that direction. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I liked playing or pretending to be a news reporter or a news anchor, but I really wanted to make stuff up, which is why I wound up going into kids’ programming instead.”
On the secret weapon she always has around:
“I keep a bunch of these little tiny rubber hands in my purse or my bag. They fit on your finger, there’s a little hole and they can fit on your finger, and if you pull down your long sleeves you can make it look like you just have tiny hands. And these things are so dumb, but they have brightened so many people’s days. I’ve given them to crying toddlers on the train, co-workers having a really bad day, I’ll just kind of show up with my tiny hands over my mouth, and they just start laughing because it’s so weird. They didn’t cost more than a dollar each, I get them in bulk. These little tiny hands are the gift that keeps on giving.”
On her artist mother’s creative inspiration:
“She’s a retired preschool teacher, now she teaches private art lessons and she’s super passionate about it. But every morning, and she sets a timer for 45 minutes, and she paints every single morning in these journals. So we go to her house now and she’s got stacks and stacks of journals and she gives herself these drawing challenges. She did 52 airplanes in 52 weeks, things like that. I learned from her to do a little more than what’s expected or a little different than what’s expected.”