Top 10 Music | 2018

This was an outstanding year for children’s music, with an unusual depth of solid entries across a wide variety of musical genres.

This was an outstanding year for children’s music, with an unusual depth of solid entries across a wide variety of musical genres. While the diverse styles range from Americana to pop, and hip-hop to jazz, these selections do have one thing in common: their universal themes. These albums cover feelings that children are facing each day—acceptance, empowerment, friendship, and love. Chosen by the reviewers from SLJ’s ClefNotes music column, these albums have styles that will appeal to children and adults and include a wide variety of songs that can be used in storytimes, library programs, or the classroom. All of the selections below are must-haves for every collection.

All the Sounds. Performed by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats. A Few Little Music. PreS-Gr 3.
Kalantari employs her own special family jazz sound in this collection of original songs. Covering everything from a werewolf who wants to dance with his friends to an opera singer who loves bunnies, this is a solid introduction to jazz music for the whole family.

Back to the Land. Performed by Hot Peas ’N Butter. Hot Peas ’N Butter Records. PreS-Gr 5.
This Brooklyn-based group continues its exploration of the roots music of various cultures. Joined by guests like Laurie Berkner, Dan Zanes, and Peter Yarrow, this album has sounds ranging from bluegrass and folk to Latin beats and a South African folk song. Beautifully blended harmonies combine with catchy melodies, making these songs ones that listeners will want to sing again and again.

Blue Skies and Sunny Days. Performed by Frances England. Frances England Music. PreS-Gr 3.
England’s seven original songs encourage listeners to sit back, relax, and enjoy the message of positivity and love. Throughout the album, the lyrics hit on topics like road trips, the simple beauty of nature, and the special relationship between sisters. Simple melodies and feel-good instrumentation showcase England’s lovely voice, making this a perfect option for those go-with-the-flow kinds of days.

Building Blocks. Performed by Tim Kubart. Tim Kubart. PreS-Gr 3.
Grammy-winner Kubart combines his understanding of the inner workings of a child’s thoughts and feelings with engaging lyrics and melodies on his latest album. A variety of childhood firsts—getting rid of training wheels, going on a field trip, getting a pet, and the first day of school—are celebrated with unrestrained joy backed by driving pop beats.

Dog on the Floor. Performed by Raffi. Rounder. PreS.
Raffi’s 25th album for children is filled with messages of love—for nature, for others, and for oneself. The titular dog is Raffi’s beloved Luna, who not only graces the album’s cover, but also figures prominently in three of the original songs. Included is a beautiful cover of “Here Comes the Sun.”

Hand in Hand. Performed by Suzi Shelton. SuziMusic. PreS-Gr 1.
The songs in this collection will delight children in the younger age range as they explore movement, animals, and nature. A slower pacing allows listeners to easily follow the lyrics and interact with the songs, making this a solid addition to storytime collections as well as family listening.

High Five! Performed by Laura Doherty. Laura Doherty Music. PreS-Gr 3.
Doherty’s fifth album for children is filled with her signature upbeat folk-pop style. Each of the 10 original songs in this collection tells its own story, drawing listeners in with topics like making a new friend, going back to school after summer vacation, and playing hide-and-seek.

La Luna. Performed by 123 Andrés. Salsana Records. PreS-Gr 2.
This beautiful collection of songs takes listeners on an imaginary trip to South America. All but one of the tunes on this album are performed in Spanish and cover topics such as counting from one blanket to 10 hugs, the various ways the moon is perceived, and how different animals and habitats say goodnight.

Wake Up the Dream. Performed by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Underground Playground Records. Gr 1-5.
Set during a nighttime radio show on WREM Dreamtime Radio, this album is filled with all original hip-hop, R&B, funk, and soul songs. Each tune has its own unique style, but collectively they are united by the theme of exploring your dreams and imagination. Filled with complex melodies and smart lyrics, this is the perfect album for families with older children who are looking for music with a more sophisticated sound.

Zoom a Little Zoom!: A Ride Through Science. Performed by Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer. Community Music. Gr K-5.
Using 10 songs released in 1961 as part of the educational collection Ballads for the Age of Science, Fink and Marxer create contemporary arrangements that showcase their own special sound. Each song covers a different science topic, including what makes lightning, the constellations, what makes an insect an insect, and gravity. With its STEM theme, fun sound, and information-filled lyrics, this album is a great addition to storytimes and classroom conversations.

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