Reader call: Music for kids

Clare writes:

I'm hoping you can throw this out to the peanut gallery.  My one yearold loves to dance, and he got an iTunes gift card for his birthday.
 I'd love suggestions of good songs/albums/artists to download.  My
only criteria for kids' music is that I have to be able to listen to it
without the kids around (ie, not really kiddie-music a la Barney or
even Raffi, but music that appeals to kids).  So, right now, I've got
lots of folk (we love Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie), bluegrass, Zydeco
(for parents of the train-obsessed, Buckwheat Zydeco's Choo Choo
Bugaloo is fantastic), Irish/Scottish traditional.  I love the Putumayo
albums, but they don't appear to be available on iTunes.  Any and all
suggestions welcome.  Thanks!

Ideas? My kids are currently into AC/DC and Heart (from the 70s and 80s), but they're also 6 and 3 instead of 1.

We also listen to lots of Earth, Wind, and Fire, ABBA, Aaron Shust, and anything with either a beat or lots of guitar. Sometimes we just watch Jack's Big Music Show if we're looking for something new and silly.

What do you guys recommend?

Also, iTunes gift card as a present for a one-year-old: Excellent.

0 thoughts on “Reader call: Music for kids”

  1. It’s already been suggested, but I have a suggestion with a warning. My daughter (4) and I also love They Might Be Giants, but I’ve loved them since 1988, so I might have been biased in encouraging her to listen to them.Here’s the warning: when you decide to introduce the older stuff (i.e., the regular adult albums), listen first. Occasionally there will be a swear word, and with the Johns, they are always clearly enunciated.
    Specifically, TMBG’s 1990 album _Flood_ is a good one for kids, and clean too.
    My daughter also likes the newer 311. Her favorite album of theirs is _Don’t Tread on Me_ (also clean, unlike their earlier albums). And, weirdly enough, she’s digging DEVO right now, but those songs also need vetting before you let a little one listen.

  2. I have to concur with everyone who suggested They Might Be Giants. Of course, they have been a favorite of mine since high school so maybe it’s just that I play them for her.My 2 1/2 year old’s favorite song is Punk Rock Girl by the Dead Milkman. Her dad started singing it to her when she was a baby and now she can’t get enough and knows most of the words. I’m not sure how appropriate it is but there is nothing quite as funny as seeing a little kid sing “so we jumped up on the table and shouted anarchy”. Also, we like to play it for her because after every listening she grins this huge grin and says “I’m daddy’s punk rock girl”.
    I’m looking forward to hearing the other suggestions.

  3. Free to Be You and Me and Alphabet Rock–yes, it was made for kids, but for us as kids, so it’s a win-win–nostalgic and catchy. I have been blasting “Mommies are People” all week and my neighbors must think I have lost it. My son also loved the Thelonius Monk recording of “This Old Man,” which is oh so easy on the ears.

  4. One of my favorite bands is The Red Stick Ramblers. It’s part zydeco, part jazz, all fun. My girls (1 and 3) love it, and get very excited and dance like maniacs when I put it on.As far as “kids” music goes, we really like They Might Be Giants 1 2 3’s album. They like it, and truthfully, so do I.

  5. My daughter is only 5 mos old, but she likes 50’s and 60’s music and musical soundtracks. Specifically Rock around the Clock and songs from Rent! (but that has something to do with the fact that both her parents sing lots of Rent! around the house, I’m sure). We also play her namesake song to her an awful lot.For fun, folky music try Christine Kane, I think she’s on iTunes. We also know a couple of folk artists that have fun beats to some of their songs – Rod Piccott’s music is a lot of fun. Again, I think some of it is on iTunes, but I know you can get his albums on Amazon.

  6. My two-year old LOVES the Cha-Cha Slide (that cheesy song they play at every wedding)! It teaches him left and right (“slide to the left”) and body parts (“hands on your knees”). Plus people are really impressed when he starts singing it :)Also a big hit, the country song called I Got a Brand New Girlfriend and the Taylor Swift song about a stupid old pick-up truck (Picture to Burn). And any song from the movie Cars.
    You can download TV show episodes or movies on Itunes too – we have Dora and Blues Clues and they come in handy in doctors’ offices or when we have to wait and there is nothing to do.

  7. Long time lurker, first time commenter. Here is a playlist I made on itunes that my 4YO and 16MO love and it isn’t hard on my grown-up ears either.Dan Zanes & Sandra Bernhard – Thrift shop
    Barenaked Ladies – I don’t like
    Angelique Kidjo – Naima
    The Be Good Tanyas – The littlest birds
    Elizabeth Mitchell – Little bird
    Hot Peas & Butter – Number one
    Laurie Berkner – The cat came back
    Medeski, Martin, & Wood – Where’s the music?
    Michelle Shocked – Got no strings
    The Quiet Ones – Polar bear
    Sweet Honey in the Rock – I like it that way
    Toots and the Maytalls – Take me home (country road)

  8. Ralph’s WorldGunnar Madsen
    The Beach Boys
    Little Willie John’s version of “Fever”
    The “soundtrack” to Finding Nemo

  9. Frances England, Randy Kaplan, Astrograss, Captain Bogg & Salty, Central Services Board of Education, David Tobocman, The Deedle Deedle Dees, Eric Herman, Gustafer Yellowgold, The Hipwaders, The Jellydots, The Jimmies, Milkshake, Ralph’s World, Recess Monkey, Renee & Jeremy, The Sippy Cups, The Terrible Twos, Uncle Rock.No idea if these will appeal to you personally, nor if they’re on iTunes. But my kids love a lots of their songs. These are musicians geared toward kids, but the songs are often catchy to my ears too. That’s my rule for any song I purchase and put on the kids’ media player – since the music plays in my car, it can’t annoy me!

  10. The Weepies! My 20-month-old daughter can sing along with just about every song on their CD Hideaway. It’s not kids’ music at all, but totally kid-appropriate. Folky, sing-along-in-the-car summer music. And it’s been a neat little bonding thing with my daughter and I, that we have a favorite band together–we’re always listening on our way to the park or the grocery store.(Though if you ask her, “What’s your favorite band?” she says “headband” every time.)

  11. What a great gift! My brain is terrible for music (can’t remember the names of artists), but hopefully ep will pop in later and give you a list of the faves. I can do a kind of spotty list only. Bad brain.One word: Motown. Any of the old choreography-friendly numbers (Stop in the Name of Love!) are favorites of the youngers.
    Car Wash, also.
    ABBA. Blondie. Richard Thompson, a bit. Weird Al Yankovich.
    G loves Beatles covers. B loves bluegrass. M loves Thula Sizwe (a Zulu group that stops near us on tours regularly, for samples, though I don’t think they’re on iTunes, well worth buying the CDs), R loves Motown best (we saw a Motown/R&B singer recently and R tried to suck her in through her eyeballs, I think. She forgot to blink.)
    Have fun choosing!

  12. We (me, my husband and our 20 month old) love They Might Be Giants (they have albums specifically for kids, though their non-kid stuff is fantastic too – surreal, with lots of funk), and jazz – we have a couple of Jazz For Kids albums (think Ella singing Old MacDonald, and Louis Prima’s Yes We Have No Bananas, rather than anything cheesey made just for kids) but I also play a lot of 1930s Big Band jazz, and my little boy dances around like crazy. He loved it when my mum played him Rufus Wainwright, but I’m thinking you might need to vet some lyrics there (or maybe that’s just Martha). Doris Day, Frank Sinatra et al. if you can cope with them (I love em, but I know they’re not everyone’s bag). Oh and Barenaked Ladies’ Gordon – lots of bounce, very musical, often quite silly. Hmm, looking at all that I’m thinking the theme is probably anything with a good beat and/or lots of over the top melodies, with bonus points for zaniness.

  13. They might be giants, they have some kids albums (here come the abc’s, here come the 123’s) but really any old album would be fun kid listening… though you might not like it if you don’t like TMBG.As kids music, I have Elizabeth Mitchell, little bird… Which is folk music played by mitchell her husband and their young daughter. I frankly LOVE that CD and we keep it in the Car to stop the screaming of my 20 month old if he should start. he’s loved it since he was 12. I could listen to her voice sing just about anything.

  14. OH! My 20 month old is all about the beat. And it HAS to be adult music for him. His latest favorite? One he literally bangs his head to? One he demands the second we get into the car?Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation”. You Tube clip here if you haven’t heard it:
    He also really like’s “Hey Ya!” by Outcast, but I need to remember when he starts being able to sing lyrics like “Just wanna make you c**”, they’re not exactly age appropriate and will need to weed it out of his collection.
    When mellow, he’s all about Jack Johnson, specifically “Upside Down” and the other songs from the Curious George movie. Oh, and from the time he was in utero, anything by Allison Krause has been able to lull him.
    Speaking of Allison, her new album with Robert Plant is a big hit with him as well. Especially “Gone, Gone, Gone”. See You Tube clip here:
    Yeah, we watch/listen to a lot of music on You Tube. I could list 30 different favorites of his, from Johnny Cash singing with the Muppets to U2 singing “Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes”. (All searchable.)
    Anyway, boy did I go on and on. I love this question though and will be stalking the comments for ideas for my bug.
    Emme Bea

  15. The Barenaked Ladies, Snack Time!. You can read my review of it here: have three kids music cds that we listen to fairly regularly that I love to sing along to: The Barenaked Ladies Snack Time!, They Might Be Giants Here Come The ABCs (DVD and CD, we have both and love the videos) and Laurie Berkener We Are The Laurie Berkner Band (actally a DVD w/ bonus CD). Laurie Berkner is the most kiddified, but it’s infectious and not dumbed down.
    Of course, we also listen to heavy metal, punk, twee,, indie, etc. And my son seems to love it all. He particiularly likes The Beatles, The Pixies, The Ramones and Belle and Sebastian (possibly because his mama does).

  16. I second Folk, Big Band & Swing, and R&B. My little guy has always loved John Legend. And the Jazz for Kids cd is awesome. The Beatles aren’t on iTunes, unfortunately. And speaking of the Wainwrights, Loudon Wainwright (dad of Rufus and Martha) has some great, silly folk songs. Johnny Cash has a wonderful kids album. And John Denver was played in my house growing up, everyone loved him, but definitely one of those musicians you either love or love to hate. Some great folk: Devendra Banhart, Vashti Bunyan, Sibylle Baier, Meg Baird. Seu Jorge’s album “Cru”. Malvina Reynolds is a good fun folkie. Django Reinhardt is always fun. Edith Piaf. Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and “Rhythm of the Saints”. Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I could go on and on, really…

  17. Soundtracks from Broadway musicals have been a real hit with my DS — Sound of Music, Peter Pan, Cats, Annie, etc. All of these are on iTunes…..

  18. David Grover & the Big Bear Band ( I hope it’s ok to tout them, since I’ve worked with them for years, but it really is great kids music that adults love too…

  19. Also a huge fan of They Might Be Giants. My kids also like Elvis. They also have a Pete Seeger album: Birds, Beasts, Bugs, & Fishes that they like, but I get tired of the folk music after awhile. The Singing Kettle is defintely kids music, but I don’t mind it. They’re a Scottish group.

  20. Harry Belafonte (the 2cd collection on Itunes has a number of kid-friendly songs–Zombie Jamboree, Coconut Woman, Day-O, Turn the World Around, Hole in the Bucket)Bhangra music–we have a bunch of collections, though we don’t speak the language they sing in, so they may be less kid-appropriate than I know. But I hope not.
    Also, I second the Raising Sand recommendation, and the Paul Simon one, too–even his earlier solo work, and the S &G stuff, too, of course. Dan Zanes’ “Nighttime” is an album for kids that I listen to on my own, too. Jean Ritchie might be fun, too, if you like that Zanes album.

  21. When the 14 year old was 5, he listened to Queen, the Talking Heads, and we had a compilation that was Saturday morning cartoon themes done over by “modern” musicians (this was in the mid to late 90’s so, not so modern anymore) Boy was he disapointed at age 5-6 when he saw the Behind the Music episode for Queen and found out they had already broken up. I don’t know that he made it to the part where Fredie Mercury died.La likes “For the Kids” (because it features the Barenaked Ladies cover of La La La and has Mana manah) She has since moved on to Hannah Montana and High School Musical and Radio Disney. Oh, and she always has liked Jimmy Eat World. And we used to listen to a lot of U2 (the one that starts with Beautiful Day) and Joni Mitchell (great for colicky days) when she was a baby. Sadly, she never liked They Might Be Giants. But the older one does.
    Ellie likes the Police greatest hits album (do do do, da da da, it’s all I have to say to you. They’re speaking her language.)
    I tuned the iPod to the Temptations and La asked, “Is this kids music?” I answered, “yes” and there was no more questioning from the back seat.

  22. Hmmm, our favourites are Dan Zanes, Jack Johnson and we just bought Johnny Cash’s album for Kids – awesome!Also ‘Charlie Davidson’s Tricycle Club’ an album by Parker Bent.
    I’m not sure if they are on itunes, though.
    Also, the ‘Rockabye Baby’ collection is great mellow music. Its Coldplay, U2, No Doubt and Bob Marley instrumentals, and that is on itunes.

  23. They Might be Giants “No,” is really a hoot. And both my kids adore it.Non-kiddie music ideas that my kids like? In addition to Paul Simon etc, we really enjoy Great Big Sea – any of that is good.
    The Dan Zanes recc above reminds me of a compilation – the Old Town School of Folk Songbook (I may not have the title right and my ipod is not here). He’s on it doing a kind of ska-ish “Drunken Sailor,” which my 5 year old adores. And while you’re doing folkie stuff, our whole family really likes the Bruce Springsteen album “the Seeger Sessions.”

  24. We really love the They Might Be Giants kids albums. I find myself singing the songs in my head, and looking forward to hearing them in the car.I also like Captain Bogg and Salty’s Pegleg Tango CD.
    Laurie Berkner’s not bad, though some of her songs are irritating.
    My husband plays instrumental soundtracks (Lord of the Rings, Legend of Zelda, Halo) for our son and points out the different instruments.

  25. ABBA! Yes!Also; Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke, Chumbawamba (lots of drinking lyrics, though), and (also very parent- influenced) my kids love Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name and Bounce, among many other Bon Jovi tunes.
    My brown- eyed girl also really loves Jackson Browne’s tune by the same name.

  26. -Rusted Root is fun, (like Send Me On My Way)- Also, Blue Moo, the Sandra Boynton CD – these are for kids, but they’re done by grown-up artists and are a lot of fun for adults too. BB King, Brian Wilson, Patti LuPone, etc.

  27. Well, we’re a little guilty of letting the 4yo listen to some inappropriate stuff. (Actually, I’ll blame my husband here…here’s really the only one that thinks it’s charming that our son knows the lyrics to “Welcome to the Jungle.”) As for what I *let* him listen to, we love Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner. I’ve been caught listening to DZ when my son’s not in the car. Right now he’s also into the “Mamma Mia” soundtrack, and ABBA in general. I’d say pop in anything you like, provided the lyrics aren’t inappropriate.I also have to add that my Hubby likes TV theme songs, and often sings “Gilligan’s Island” and “Love Boat” to the boys. For his recent birthday, I have the boys give him a CD of the top 100 TV theme songs, and all three of them now rock out to those, plus the Brady Bunch, the Muppet Show, Greatest American, Green Acres, Happy Days, etc. It’s nostalgic and fun for us, and age-appropriate as well.

  28. I haven’t read all of the other comments, but some of my my kids’ favorites:Natasha Bedingfield – Pocketful of Sunshine
    Prince & the Revolution – Let’s go Crazy
    Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
    John Mayer -Say (My daughter calls this Samwiches need to say)
    Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
    Both love Norah Jones immensely. My daughter has gone to sleep to her first album every night since she was an infant (she’s almost 3 1/2) and my son goes to sleep to it as well.
    Nelly Furtado – Say it Right
    Nelly Furtado – I’m like a bird
    Outkast – Hey ya (clean version)
    Ryan Shaw – We got love
    Sean Paul – Temperature
    Wham – Wake me up before you go-go (I know.)
    And of course Jack Johnson

  29. Dance party days at our house are They Might Be Giants’ greatest hits album. I love Pete Seeger (more than my kids do) and we also have a Burl Ives record in heavy rotation. For geeky moms, I recommend Jonathan Coulton (Code Monkey, Re: Your Brains; see his website or youtube). Nothing better than your 3 year old singing about being a zombie now.Unfortunately since we are Bad Parents my daughter also knows some lyrics to “Baby Got Back”. And my just-two year old son was singing the Penis Song in the car this morning. I looked at mr. flea and said, “Where did he learn that?” and he said, “He’s been talking nonstop about his penis anyway; I couldn’t help it!”

  30. The Beatles!! By far a favorite around here and we’ve even passed it on to my daughter’s daycare.We also listen to Lisa Loeb/Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes, Jack’s Big Music Show stuff, folk, Bob Dylan, ABBA, motown, Feist, etc.
    Older recordings of folk songs by people like Mike, Peggy & Pete Seeger are great… I’m a music history grad student and former preschool music teacher, and I believe that Ruth Crawford Seeger was right on with her ideas about educating children with folk songs. Her family carried on that tradition, definitely.
    And we watch lots of vintage Sesame Street “music videos” – most songs are by Joe Raposo from the late 70s, early 80s period when I was watching SS – on youtube, and my daughter loves those. “It’s a rainy day, it’s a rainy day…”

  31. For kids music that is mama-friendly, I’ll third the Elizabeth Mitchell and They Might Be Giants suggestions, as well as soundtracks–esp. Free to Be You and Me and Annie. And Duplex!But for fun music that’s kid-friendly, almost any ‘oldies’ is great. Beatles, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Motown, ABBA, disco.
    But one word of warning–we’ve never played really kiddie music at home (Raffi, Barney) and I can see now that there is a small drawback to that. My eldest is almost 2.5 years and he’s really at the age that he wants to sing along. He tries with all his might to keep up/sing along with TMBG. Almost impossible! I think he finds it frustrating. To make up for this, we sing a lot of regular kid songs at home now, but I wonder if I’ve let him down in that way. Oh well.

  32. Another vote for They Might Be Giants. Bed Bed Bed is a great one, and my son (now over two) has been a big TMBG fan since he was about 9 months old. Everytime he got fussy, we would pop in Mink Car (non-kid album) and he would calm instantly. He also loves the Beatles. We played a lot of Rubber Soul back then. It’s quite amusing to watch a 1 year old giggling and bouncing to “Drive My Car” and it’s easy on our ears. Yellow Submarine is also another favorite in our house. We also played a lot of Arlo Guthrie and Beck.Finally, if the kids like rock, and TMBG, can I make a HUGE recommendation for a Boston-area band, Honest Bob and the Factory to Dealer Incentives? They are a local band and have a great sound. Kids love the guitar, the parents love the wordplay.
    Another Boston-band, Jim’s Big Ego, might be on iTunes, too.

  33. A pattern occurs to me, here. Strong, straightforward tempos plus clear vocals seem to be a theme in the suggestions. This is true for my daughter, who is very verbal. She wants to be able to understand the words so she can sing along, and she has always preferred music where the vocals are clear.I saw the Dead Milkman suggestion and laughed heartily – I love DMM, and I think my daughter will too! I think I’ll dig into my cds and see if I can find any Ramones while I’m at it. “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”, “Rock and Roll High School”, and “Breakaway Beach” are on my scavenger hunt today.
    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  34. We do TMBG and Barenaked Ladies, both of whom I loved in high school. My daughter is also really found of “New Soul” by Yael Naim.We also like Gemini (but that is pure kids music) and The Chenille Sisters (kid friendly adult music). These last two are bands I listened to as a kid and a regional thing I think.

  35. All of our favorites have been mentioned above except for one I must make a plug for– polka. We have a couple of bouncy polka albums and it invariably leads to dancing in our house. It also is a nice multi-generational appeal when the grandparents visit. But that is probably due to the fact that its in our blood.DD’s daycare provider also swears by some gentle country to calm a toddler down and from what I’ve seen I believe her. But I don’t have a lot of country in my music collection so I can’t recommend anything but the mellower country station on the radio.

  36. My son is 18 months old and we just made a CD of his favorite tunes for his playgroup pals. My tastes lean toward eighties pop, a bit of disco, and even some classic country. Here’s the playlist (all available on iTunes):If I Had $1,000,000 Barenaked Ladies
    And She Was Talking Heads
    Modern Love David Bowie
    (Reach Up For The) Sunrise Duran Duran
    Bamboleo Gipsy Kings
    Working on the Highway Bruce Springsteen
    King of the Road Roger Miller
    I’ve Been Everywhere Johnny Cash
    Walk Like an Egyptian The Bangles
    Upside Down Diana Ross
    Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes Paul Simon
    JCB Nizlopi
    So Glad I’m Here Elizabeth Mitchell
    Mahna Mahna Cake
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    If I Had Words James Cromwell (Babe Soundtrack)
    The Rainbow Connection Sarah McLachlan

  37. @amy My 4 YO son absolutely loves the Ramones! He also likes Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, older Green Day stuff, and Simon and Garfunkle. We have to be careful with the Gimmie Gimmies and Green Day as they are definitely not age appropriate.I’ll put in yet another vote for TMBG, especially NO! and Here Come the 123s. Both the 4 YO and my almost 2 YO daughter can’t get enough. We also listen to Jack Johnson, Laurie Berckner, Johnny Cash, Billy Bragg and Wilco, and Lisa Loeb. When we REALLY need to mellow out, we listen to a little James Taylor. Occasionally I’ll throw something classical into the mix. The kids like anything from Mozart, The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, and Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens.

  38. For music intended for kids, Laurie Berkner.My 2 1/2 year old has loved James Brown for a long time.
    Also, especially since you like Pete Seeger, I recommend anything by the Jerry Garcia/David Grisman duo – it’s great old folk songs with beautiful guitar and mandolin stuff, and not at all like the stoner Dead music. My son now falls asleep to “Shady Grove” and “Hobo’s Lullaby.”
    Finally, if he loves music and dancing, you might enjoy a Music Together class. My son absolutely loves his, and has since he was under a year. See if there is one in your neighborhood.

  39. My 18 month old loves Father Goose and the Sippy Cups, who I don’t think have been mentioned yet. We also would add to the chorus of support for Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell.

  40. Tom Chapin: Great Big Fun for the Very Little One. This one is for kids, but I actually like it too. It is not totally annoying. Another Tom Chapin: In My Hometown. He has adult albums also, if you just can’t handle the kiddie stuff.But my kids LOVE LOVE LOVE his stuff. I don’t know if it’s on iTunes though.
    I can’t wait to try some of the other suggestions!

  41. Did anyone else look at this question and flashback to Murphy Brown and the on-going joke that her baby was only soothed by the music she hated? Just me? Ok then.

  42. My mom is a piano teacher and I asked her this question too. She recommends exactly what you are doing, folk music. I also agree with the above posters, Elizabeth Mitchell is good, recent folk artist for kids. She and Lisa Loeb have also done an album together. I also like Jack Johnson, music from the Curious George movie.

  43. The Kids and Family Awards for music (called Fids and Kamily Awards) might give you some additional good ideas. They can be found at and are the best kids music of the year based on a range of judges and judging criteria. I found out about them by listening to the Jumping Monkeys podcast, and they also introduced Bill Childs, who has a kids/family music radioshow that you can podcast and/or stream called Spare the rock, Spoil the child which you can google, and then see his play lists. He and his daughter Ella host the show. My two year olds listen to (and mostly demand) my husband’s guitar and fiddle playing, but when he’s at work, we listen to the Hipwaders, and we’re now branching out to other things. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!

  44. I was so excited to see The Weepies mentioned! Hideaway has been in my car all summer — my 2 y.o. daughter doesn’t mind it, and I LOVE it.We don’t do very much “kids'” music, but there are 2 albums that are irreplaceable:
    “Dragonfly Races,” by Ellis Paul – a singer-songwriter who I’ve long crushed on. My daughter calls this album “Wabi Sabi,” after the first song.
    “Let’s Go Everywhere,” by Medeski Martin & Wood. I’m not usually a big fan of their grownup albums, but this is a happy, jammy album with some great memorable songs. We particularly like “Where’s the Music” and a kinda punk-rock version of “Pattycake.”
    Another folk-ish album we listen to regularly is The Seeger Sessions, Bruce Springsteen’s album of Pete Seeger songs.
    The biggest bummer, though, is that my daughter just doesn’t seem all that into music! She did dance with me to Amy Winehouse the other day, so perhaps that’s changing… I really want to cultivate a love of music in her – it was so important to me as an adolescent. We’ll see if that ever happens for her….

  45. Safety Dance, by Men Without Hats, is my daughter’s favorite dance tune.Also, we dance to James Brown. One day, she said to me, “mom, I want the funk!” and I was like, yee haw! My baby wants the funk. She’s turning three on Sunday.

  46. I recommend “Beleza Tropical”, a Brazilian music compilation album that I play, sing to at the top of my lungs, with beebs dancing along by my side (14 mo). Wonderful stuff.

  47. Trout Fishing in AmericaThey do kids’ and adults’ albums.
    We saw them at a folk festival once, at the kids’ show instead of the adult one because we had to leave early. We thought “wow! kids music that doesn’t drive adults crazy” and gave their cds to all our friends with kids. My husband ordered some of their cds before our son was born. He is 14 months now and likes them almost as much as his dad. (My personal favorite is “18 wheels on a big rig”; my husband likes “Boiled Okra and Spinach”; my friend’s 3-yr old liked “When I was a Dinosaur”, Zeb doesn’t have a favorite yet.)
    Zeb also likes dancing to folk walzes in my arms, but right now he really just likes to listen and dance (turns in a circle and claps his hands) to any music.

  48. Yet ANOTHER vote for They Might Be Giants and a second vote for Rusted Root and Norah Jones. I was listening to Baby Einstein and Fisher-Price CDs to the point of making my ears bleed. Kara is almost eight months old and doesn’t show too much excitement over any particular song, but it’s nice to have background music we can all appreciate.

  49. well, sharon lois and bram are “kiddie” but i love them… they’re not barney-type crap.i think lisa loeb also just came out with a kid-focused album.

  50. The New York Voices and The Real Group are two great vocal jazz groups that are fun for kids. Chili Con Carne is a fav. NYV does a whole album of Paul Simon covers….Mother and Child Reunion will seriously make you weep.I also want to put in a plug for classical music. Kids LOVE to make up stories to music without words, even my little guys get a kick out of “interpretive dance”. You would all have a good laugh if you could see what goes on in my living room on a rainy day. Anything from the Romantic era will get you in the “Kill the Wabbit” zone…tons of changing tempos and themes as well as a hearty dose of melodrama.

  51. If you like folk, my kids groove on Tom Paxton and Tom Rush. Second the Bruce Springsteen Seeger Sessions — those rock. And I don’t think I’ve seen a suggestion for John McCutcheon yet — he has kid’s music and adult music, both of which is good. Kingston Trio has lots of songs they probably will know already, like Michael Row the Boat Ashore, so when those come up, they get all excited. Rolf Harris.Fun question!

  52. REM – Stand (good to jump to)Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall – my 8 month old is grooving to this right now
    The Curious George Soundtrack
    For the Kids 1, 2 and 3
    Snack Time – Barenaked Ladies
    Jump in the Line – Harry Belafonte
    Good Day Sunshine/Obla Di Obla Da – Beatles
    Ordinary Miracle – Charlotte’s Web
    Lion Sleeps Tonight
    the Corrina, Corrina soundtrack has a lot of good dancing songs
    We have some not so appropriate songs on our Ipod for travelling too – My Humps/Baby’s Got Back/Brick House/Violent Femmes but our 3 year old loves the beat
    What is it with Johnny Cash and kids? My husband brags that our daughter requests “Rusty Cage” whenever she is in the car.

  53. My almost-2 year old loves Matisyahu, Gypsy Kings, and our good friend Mike Mennard ( – especially his new Pirates album!I’m hoping someone here can tell me who the San Francisco folk kids’ artist is who does the song Bicycle Bicycle. I loooove that song and can’t find it anywhere!

  54. I love music and hopefully so will my kids, who are 4.5 and 9 months.The older one loves Laurie Berkner and the kids channel on Sirius. She also listens to a lot of musical soundtracks (Mamma Mia and Hairspray are good for dancing around).
    For quiet times, I like the album “Home” by the Corrs and pretty much any classical music (Peter & the Wolf and the William Tell Overture are good choices for kids).
    One album we have that has been an unqualified success is a collection of Sesame Street songs performed by various popular artists (REM singing a modified version of “Shiny Happy People,” the Dixie Chicks, Madeline Kahn, and so on).
    Other good groups that are (mostly) kid appropriate are Paul Simon (personally, I think “Graceland” might be one of the best albums of all time), They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies and Jack Johnson.
    Finally, my daughter’s absolute favorite song is “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” by Bon Jovi with the girl from Sugarland. She knows all the words and sings it all the time.

  55. My 9 month old loves Bjork….especially the “gling glo” album, which is jazz standards sung in Icelandic, and “Vespertine”. She uses lots of xylophones and glockenspiels, which appeals to babies and her voice is so unique and melodic, and expresses so much…Understanding the lyrics isn’t paramount because he isn’t talking yet..and when he babbles …he sounds a little like Bjork anyway, so I guess he feels like he’s listening to one of his own kindHe also loves Roberta Flack, has since birth, Killing Me Softly” is still his lullaby.
    Such a great birthday present.

  56. Another ‘yes’ for Barenaked Ladies’ Snacktime. My 19-month old latched onto “789” and has been requesting the “nine” song since. Very cute if I do say so myself.

  57. My 1 1/2 year old little boy LOVES Stevie Ray Vaughn and Big Trouble. He claps after every song and rocks his head back and forth in the carseat to the guitar solos. Excellent choice for mellow/bluesy/rock mommy music too.

  58. I came in to say They Might Be Giants, but apparently i’m too late :). So I’ll recommend dance music. My little boy loves to dance along to dance remixes. We actually downloaded some dance music for our ipod to entertain him when we went out to dinnerdot

  59. Besides all the other great suggestions, I highly recommend Ellis Paul’s Dragonfly Races. He wrote the album for his kids and both my husband and I like it just as much.My 2-year-old boy is very into Lenny Kravitz right now – fun to dance and play air guitar. He also loves folk/traditional tunes that we find on Youtube — Froggy went courtin, the old lady who swallowed a fly, you are my sunshine, etc.

  60. I love this post and haven’t stopped thinking about it since I commented earlier. It’s almost as good as primal scream day. I also can’t wait to go through all the other comments and see if I can get some of the stuff from our library.I forgot to mention the soundtrack from the movie “Juno”. My 3 year old loves the music and the movie despite the content being way over her head.

  61. We’re kind of lucky that the prince’s dad is a musician, so he goes to sleep listening to his daddy’s music (it’s mellow electronica with no dodgy lyrics to trip us up).Having said that, his absolute favourite at the moment is an album called ‘New Ancient Strings’ by a kora player from Mali called Toumani Diabate. It’s beautiful music, and we dance to it every night (he’s 15 months old) and it puts him straight to sleep. Every time he hears the first arpeggio on the strings, he breaks into a big beaming smile. Well worth checking out, IMO. Have fun!

  62. I’ve got a 4yo boy and a 7yo girl, and we use music as a family chiller all the time. Here are some of our faves:Jack Johnson — both the Curious George soundtrack and In Between Dreams
    The Beatles! Just be choosy about which ones. My kids totally dig blackbird, good day sunshine, yellow submarine…etc. You get the idea
    Sound of Music soundtrack, if you’re in the mood
    Harry Connick Jr’s “Songs I Heard” album is excellent
    My daughter totally digs the Dixie Chicks “Taking the Long Way” but they do have a swear word in there that I just told her she couldn’t sing. But she knows the whole album.
    Some old Styx is good. John Mayer’s Continuum isn’t bad either — a couple inappropriate words here and there, though, be forewarned.

  63. Not that it is needed, what with all these great comments, but I remembered one I didn’t mention earlier–Harry Nilsson. I grew up with his “The Point” on LP, (ah, the seventies, and having to wait for the network broadcast each year). His other albums, though, have lots of other good songs with festive lyrics that aren’t, generally, too much for kids. (You’ll definitely want to skip the song “You’re Breaking My Heart,” though. Until they are dating, and then you can bring that song out for them during a bad breakup when you can’t say “Good riddance!” because they are sad, but you’re not.)There’s a Nilsson tribute album with good covers that my hubby likes more than the originals, too, and it’s got the Til Tuesday singer’s version of “One”–always a good one. Also, Carole King’s “Really Rosie” goes over well with my kids, too. Thank goodness I kept my LPs and a way to play them.

  64. The Manic Mommies ( did an episode within the last couple of months about their favorite music for kids, and they had some really good suggestions. Baby Loves Hip-Hop was a fun one, and so was SteveSongs.

  65. um. my 19 month old’s favorite song is Conquest – as sung by the White Stripes’ Icky Thump album (2007). It was my favorite new music for a while. And the horns and the random singing on that one really gets her. Plus she is a drummer girl in the making — so we are always saying “bang it like meg!” “Bonito” by Jarabe de Palo is another favorite.

  66. Just heard about Elizabeth Mitchell myself recently from an online recommendation, and it’s great stuff! Also my nearly 2 year old loves the For the Kids CD (the first one I like the best), Big Band Music, Jazz, Bossa Nova, etc.

  67. Hubby is a musician, so the bear has heard all kinds of music since before she was born.After she watches Little Einsteins, he will play her the actual classical tune that was featured in the show.
    In the car, I tried to turn on a Barry Manilow CD ( HA, Murphy Brown!!) But bear said, “No, thats Boy music. I want Girl music.” So we sang with Carole King and Dionne Warwick.
    And, ditto everyone on Motown. I gotta agree, nothing today beats Motown.

  68. After my Bjork post, i made a great new discovery with glam rock (my personal fave)..TRex and Bowie….I tidied and he rocked out until bedtime!

  69. There are some albums put out by the Chicago Old Town School of Folk Music that are just wonderful — — that share American folk music heritage in a truly wonderful way. They’re American folk standards.Some for kids– — Farmer Jason is Jason Ringenberg, the former frontman of Jason & the Scorchers. This stuff is as good or better than Jason has ever done, and it’s WONDERFUL. Alt-country for kids, with a heart.

  70. My first post got lost, but I wanted to recommend Ellis Paul’s “Dragonfly Races.” Written for his daughter, it is great music for adults too. I often find myself humming “wabi-sabi soul” from time to time. My 2yo boy loves it.

  71. I didn’t read all the comments but here are my suggestions based on my own daughter’s preferences. G Love and Special Sauce, Johnny Cash (she’s almost 2 and has loved him since her first weeks), and Barenaked Ladies (not just their kiddie album)… actually any music the grown-ups like that doesn’t have cuss words works in my house!For kiddie-specific my daughter likes (and I don’t mind) Dan Zanes and Choo Choo Soul.

  72. Oh there are some great suggestions here that I am definitely going to check out.I just got given a CD called “Putumayo Kids Presents Folk Playground” and it has tracks from a lot of the artists that are mentioned in this thread like Dan Zanes, Elizabeth Mitchell, Michelle Shocked and more. Me and my kids (3 and 5) are really enjoying it.
    It’s on Amazon if you’re interested in buying it. And yes, click through Moxie’s Amazon link so that a portion of the sale goes to the Moxie furniture fund!

  73. I noticed no one has mentioned trout fishing in america family party album The song throw it out the window with their version of stairway to heaven, 18 wheels, my hair had a party last night… This is also on itunes.My daughter has been into the spice girls since 2 and son was into Beethoven’s whig at 3 and the animaniacs presidents song. Mika is getting a lot of play in our house right now along with gogos we got the beat & walk like an Egyptian.
    In boston there was a great musician called marcus gale did the bean song about a dog that ran away LLbean… and came back in a limo. grin
    We also do turtle island string quartet for quiet time and clara ponty (piano) and Candy duffy sax a gogo and george winston of course.
    I’ll be borrowing a few of these out of the library to try out in the future.. thanks for all the leads

  74. @ Dawn,Do you know what the exact name of the Sesame street album is… I have been trying to google it and can’t find… because we watched the episode with furry happy monsters by REM the other day and my son has been begging for it!

  75. I’m so surprised no one has mentioned the Putumayo CDs. We ADORE the Putumayo Kids series — African Playground, French Playground, World Playground, you name it Playground. It’s great, world music but all very kid-suitable. Old McDonald in Italian is a classic! Very fun, hip, and appeals to the 40 year old and the 2 year old.

  76. @ Karen- Thanks.This is very last minute but those in the DC area Ellis Paul is playing this morning (saturday) at 11am at Jammin Java in Vienna. I just found it.
    Also there is another artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo playing there next month. He is a hip-hop artist for kids and I just listened to his album on iTunes (preview clips) and it sounds pretty good. Seems like a good option for kids who like the hip-hop/rap beats.

  77. This isn’t really a kids recommendation, but since we’re talking about music, my favorite baby shower gift right now is the album Blink, by Plumb. I describe it as a collection of gentle rock lullabies for mommies. It’s just GREAT. I can’t say enough.

  78. We do well with Louis Prima, even if it’s not for kids, and for that matter almost any uptempo horn-heavy New Orleans jazz. Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, and Bob Marley are huge hits around here. Cornershop made some inroads, and I tamped down a recent backseat insurrection with, I kid you not, John Lee Hooker’s “Graveyard Blues.” Tinkerbell, at 8 months today, seems certain that the wheels on the bus can go flying off into a ditch for all she cares.

  79. can’t believe only one other person mentioned Justin Roberts! we LOVE Justin. have WAYOUT album & some other single songs on compilations. Check out Yellow Bus on youtube, some kids did a music video to the JR song (“I know it’s kinda early but I drank my momma’s coffee and I’m feeling kinda SURLY…”)Elizabeth Mitchell, We have You Are My Little Bird (LOVE it) and project w/Lisa Loeb, Catch the Moon (like it.)
    Putamayo collections, we have Folk Playground & sing along with P, as well as Dreamland lullaby CD.
    Dan Zanes, Catch that TRain, and other singles on compilations.
    DS has also been digging REM lately, but he thinks Furry Happy Monsters is the original not Shiny Happy People (I showed him video of SHP, and he asked (of Kate Pierson) “Is she pretending to be Miss Piggy?”) Need to find that Sesame Street remakes album!

  80. Showing up to the party late – I’d second/third the recommendations for Paul Simon Graceland album, any Nora Jones album (my 3 yr old instantly loved it the first time I played it for him), and Bob Marley. Also, embarasses somewhat to say but… John Denver (my mom left her CD here accidentally the last time she drove down and so we played it for my boys and they enjoyed it. Along the same lines, Neil Diamond can be fun.

  81. Ditto ditto ditto Elizabeth Mitchell’s Little Bird album. I love all of these songs, and more with every listen. We also listen to Norah Jones when we’re feeling mellow, some classical mixes, the Putumayo Latin mix, and Louis Armstrong. What a fun post! I’m definitely writing recommendations down.

  82. I recently downloaded 2 Laurie Berkner albums from itunes, my 19 mo. old loves to dance to them and I like her voice. I also play Elton John for her, we stomp together to “Bennie and the Jets”.

  83. I teach dance to kids of all ages, and all of my little ones LOVE Van Morrison, especially songs like “Moondance” and “Domino”. They bop around like crazy. It’s great for me because I’m happy to listen to van all day long.

  84. a dad in my area does a kids music show on the radio which you can get streamed here: – he posts the playlists, too. i get some good ideas there, and sometimes i just put on the stream when i’m hanging around the house with the 3 y.o. loved “grown-up” music when he was little, but really caught on to kids music around 2.5 when we started doing a lot of long road trips, and it kept him happier, so we made the switch. now at 3.5 he’s back to be interested in both, so we hear a variety. right now he’s obsessed with the song “love grows where my rosemary goes” and wails it all around the house – i love it!

  85. I’m late replying but I wanted to chime in and add Nickel Creek– especially their album just titled “Nickel Creek”…The Fox has worked magic on my son since he was a few days old.I made a mix cd of ‘songs for kids’ for my son before he was born:
    Summertime Dream- Gordon Lightfoot
    The Fox- Nickel Creek
    Octopus’s Garden- Beatles
    Porcupine Pie- Neil Diamond
    When He Cries- John Gorka
    On the Road Again- Willie Nelson
    Rocky Byways- Austin Lounge Lizards
    The Galaxy Song- Monty Python
    The House You Live In- Gordon Lightfoot
    Wildflowers- Tom Petty
    Rainbow Connection- Kermit
    Yellow Submarine- Beatles
    Flatnose the tree-climbing dog- Austin Lounge Lizards
    I am the Lion & Childsong- Neil Diamond
    Flying Red Horse- John Gorka
    Castle on a Cloud- Les Miserables soundtrack
    Mr. Tambourine Man- Bob Dylan
    Promnight in Pigtown- John Gorka
    Another Morning- Moody Blues
    Beautiful Boy- John Lennon
    St. Judy’s Comet- Paul Simon
    Lullaby- Billy Joel.

  86. Most have already been mentioned but our kids 4 yr old and 2 yr old twins totally dig TMBG Here come the 123’s, Snacktime by Barenaked Ladies, Laurie Berkner, Jack Johnson’s Curious George Soundtrack. One I haven’t seen mentioned is Justin Roberts’ Pop Fly and Meltdown, they are both good.

  87. Don’t think anyone has mentioned the Innocence Mission’s “Now The Day Is Over” record. Cool sleepytime music that includes their versions of “Stay Awake,” “Over the Rainbow,” and even “Moon River.”

  88. The Punk Rock Girl comment is awesome. I know Dave Blood is smiling in heaven.Perrey and Kingsley is where it’s at with our toddler. They have a 2 vol set released in the early 2000’s. It’s quirky instrumental music from the 1960’s that you’ll probably recognize from cartoons/Sesame st from the ’70s, etc.
    I hope Yo Gabba Gabba comes out with a soundtrack soon!

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