The way kids absorb everything they hear and repeat it back unfiltered can be a little scary sometimes. My girls love music, but I’m hesitant to turn on the radio sometimes for fear they’ll pick up on some of the more, uh, unsavory lyrics being sung. Rather than listen to mind-numbing kids’ songs, though, I’ve tried to find music they can sing along with that also appeals to me. These are some of my favorite collections of kids’ music that even parents will love.
You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell
Pretty much everything by Elizabeth Mitchell is fantastic and it’s hard to decide which of her albums is the best. This one is a top contender, though. Accompanied by little more than a guitar, she sings old favorites like “Skip to My Lou”, “Here Comes My Baby”, and of course “You Are My Sunshine.” I’ve found this album is perfect for calming grumpy little ones (and big ones too!) on long car rides. Check out Little Seed, a collection of Woody Guthrie covers, and You Are My Little Bird for more of Mitchell’s work.
Yo Gabba Gabba! Music Is Awesome (Songs from the TV show)
If you aren’t already familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba!, you should know two things: 1) it’s a kid’s show created by the lead singer of the Aquabats and 2) they have a segment called “The Super Music Friends Show” where popular singers and bands give a mini-concert. With songs about sharing and washing your hands and the like, they’re clearly geared toward the littles. But since they include bands like Mates of State, Chromeo, The Shins, and (of course) The Aquabats, you’ll probably enjoy it as much as your kids do. Our favorite songs include “Lovely, Love My Family” by the Roots (vol. 1) and “Balloons” by The Postmarks (vol. 3).
Tumble Bee by Laura Veirs
This album gets more play at our house than almost any other because it’s just so good! It contains songs that you are probably familiar with but may have forgotten about, such as “King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O” and “Jamaica Farewell”. Laura Veirs somehow makes these old songs seem new again and will have you tapping your toe and singing along in no time. The track we listen to most, “All the Pretty Little Horses”, is about as lovely and haunting a lullaby as I’ve ever heard.
The Johnny Cash Children’s Album by Johnny Cash
Here Come the ABCs by They Might Be Giants
Let’s be honest. Most of the music They Might Be Giants has written could be children’s songs. (“Particle Man” anyone?) This album is specifically geared toward kids, though, with every song related somehow to the alphabet. “Alphabet of Nations” is a fun list of countries around the world, which my map-loving daughter loves, and “Z Y X” is perfect for my husband, who is always trying to teach her to say the alphabet backwards. TMBG might be an acquired taste, but this album is full of weirdly catchy tunes that are easy for both parents and kids to enjoy.
BONUS: The folks over at Sesame Street are geniuses at parody. Cookie Monster singing “Share It Maybe” (a spoof on Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe”) is a favorite at our house, but we also love to watch the characters sing with Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Train, and others. Each song is hilarious in its own right and definitely worth a listen. To my knowledge, they aren’t available to purchase, but you can find them collected on YouTube. I highly recommend pulling them up and singing along!
Jen is the mother of two sweet girls; her days are filled with Dr. Seuss books and laundry, block castles and pink tutus. Reading is her first passion. Finding and testing out delicious recipes is a close second. She and her husband are working on making their fixer-upper home into something amazing. It’s a satisfying but painfully slow process. Read more from Jen at her blog: Nothing Can Come Of Nothing.