An exciting year for children’s music is celebrated with this eclectic mix of outstanding albums featuring traditional and not-so-traditional children’s music genres. While the diverse styles range from folk, rock, and pop to bluegrass, classical, and jazz, these selections do have one thing in common: their universal themes. These albums cover topics important to the development of children— discovery, imagination, empowerment, respect, and love. Chosen by the reviewers from SLJ’s ClefNotes music column, these works will appeal to children and adults and include a wide variety of songs that can be used in storytimes or other classroom or library programs. All of the selections below are must-haves for every collection.
Explorer of the World. Performed by Frances England. Redeye Distribution. PreS-Gr 3.
This album, the perfect antidote to today’s technology-driven world, invites listeners to take time to appreciate all of the amazing, simple things around them. Spot-on harmonies combine with fantastic instrumentations on songs that draw listeners into the heart of city life.
Feel What U Feel. Performed by Lisa Loeb. Furious Rose Productions. PreS-Gr 5.
In this joyful celebration of childhood, Loeb hits on the universal themes of individuality, respect for one another, and all of the feelings that come along with being oneself. The selections includes two terrific duets with actor Craig Robinson.
I Believe in Little Things. Performed by Diana Panton. Entertainment One Music. PreS-Gr 5.
In her debut disc for families, Canadian jazz vocalist Panton weaves a beautiful spell with a delightful selection of classics from children’s movies and television. Perfect for those quieter times of day or just before bed.
In My Dreams. Performed by Dean Jones. Dean Jones. PreS-Gr 3.
Dog on Fleas leader Dean Jones explores the imagination and so much more in this fun-filled collection. Several songs use rhythm to create a hypnotic feeling that will mesmerize listeners, while others will have kids moving with their groove and joining the refrain.
Lemonade. Performed by Justin Roberts. Carpet Square. PreS-Gr 3.
Employing a creative mix of instruments from cardboard boxes and paint cans to cello and ukulele, Roberts crafts another enjoyable set of songs. Young audiences will delight in these relatable tunes, sung from a child’s perspective.
Novelties. Performed by Recess Monkey. Amazon Music. K-Gr 4.
Often compared to the Beatles, this fun-loving, creative trio from Seattle employ their quirky blend of rock and pop styles from across the decades to draw listeners into silly songs on such subjects as a unicorn that is in love with a narwhal, a sweaty Yeti, and the mustaches of the world being set free.
Phineas McBoof Crashes the Symphony. Performed by Dr. Noize and others. Doctor Noize Inc. Gr 3-7.
This two-act musical comedy, about an orchestra that meets many obstacles on the way to a concert, features stage performers Isabel Leonard and Nathan Gunn, the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Colorado Children’s Chorale.
Press Play. Performed by Brady Rymer. Bumblin’ Bee Records. PreS- Gr 3.
Rymer and the Little Band That Could keep things cooking with a mash-up of 12 original songs that feature a range of American musical styles. This collection of catchy tunes is filled with meaningful lyrics, rich harmonies, lush instrumentation, and arrangements that are pitch-perfect.
Saddle Up. Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers. Okee Dokee Music. K-Gr 5.
On this outstanding third album in the Grammy Award–winning “Adventure Album” series, the Okee Dokee Brothers eschew modern transportation and saddle up for a trip from Arizona to Wyoming along the Continental Divide. The duo’s voices blend beautifully together to create lovely harmonies for these 15 original and traditional songs that will appeal to the entire family.
Superhero. Performed by the Laurie Berkner Band. Two Tomatoes. PreS-Gr 2.
Berkner’s first album of all new music in eight years is packed with 21 brand-new songs that will delight and engage young listeners. The overarching themes of self-empowerment and imagination fill each song, resulting in music that can be enjoyed in storytimes and during family listening.