Feel What U Feel by Lisa Loeb

In the past few weeks, there has been much written about how to talk about tolerance, kindness, and acceptance with children. Most of what has been written has focused on using books to address these topics. I’d like to offer up the importance of using music as well.

Looking back through the children’s albums that have been released this year, one of the welcome trends is the increased emphasis on not only accepting one another for each other’s differences but also being proud and confident in ourselves and those qualities that make each of us unique. The songs have ranged from silly to serious but all speak to children in a way that they can embrace and understand.

lisa-loeb-11-16One of the most recent albums that focuses on kindness and acceptance is the newest release from Lisa Loeb, Feel What U Feel. Chock full of beautiful messages that are wrapped in gentle hugs or disguised in upbeat melodies and lyrics, this album is fantastic from beginning to end. The opening song, “Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna Be All Right,” sets the tone and leads into “Say Hello” a lovely song about how the simple act of being brave and saying hello, or goodbye, or excuse me can be a great show of kindness. From there listeners fall into the groovin’ title track, “Feel What U Feel,” a duet between Loeb and Craig Robinson (from The Office) that lets children know that all those emotions inside them, both good and not so good, are ok. The catchy chorus, “Guess what? It’s okay!/go on and feel what u feel today/Feel what u feel/what u feel what u feel/what u feel what u feel,” will keep the message fresh in listeners minds. Robinson returns with another positive message regarding emotions on the classic tune, “It’s All Right to Cry,” which first appeared on Free to Be You and Me (1972). There are many other great songs on this album, all of which can be shared in a storytime, classroom, or family setting.

With so much music to choose from, I’d love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite songs about kindness, acceptance, emotions, etc. to share with children?

It’s a Doo Da Day!

doodadaywebLast week we had the great privilege of hosting Wendy & DB at our library. Back in August I reviewed their album It’s a Doo Da Day for School Library Journal. The album had great empowering messages about being yourself and owning your feelings while at the same time being a lot of fun. At the time, I thought it would be a perfect album for family or classroom listening  but didn’t clearly see how to use it in storytime. Then, I saw Wendy & DB perform.

 

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Wow! That’s all I can say. Just wow! Their 45-minute performance was filled with such energy and excitement. Every song had an interactive component, most of which had the kids up and moving. The title track, “It’s a Doo Da Day” has a catchy chorus and wraps around the classic children’s tune, “You Are My Sunshine” making it the perfect way to start the show. Once everyone was warmed up, it was full speed ahead with rocking songs like “I Love My Body” and “Pink Flamingo,” where each child was given a pink sock to use as a flamingo, then invited to act out all of the things that the flamingo does in the song. Things slowed down in the gentle “It’s Ok Being You,” which teaches children that if they are feeling blue or green or red, it’s ok. As each verse introduced a new color, the children were given scarves that color to dance with, creating a delightful rainbow of movement.

All of the songs on It’s a Doo Da Day are a joy to listen to. Wendy & DB are working on their next album, and I for one, can’t wait. Get more information about the duo, as well as listen to a couple of the songs off their album here.

Fids & Kamily 2016 Music Awards

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Best of… lists to start appearing. First up in the land of children’s music is the 11th annual Fids & Kamily Music Awards. Voted on by folks familiar with the fantastic offerings from the children’s music industry, this list of the Top 10 albums of 2016 is a list of “must haves” for every collection. Don’t forget to take a look at the Honorable mentions, they are great ones to have as well. Keep an eye out next month for School Library Journal‘s 10 Best Children’s Albums of the year. Are there any albums you wished had made the list?

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Halloween Hits for Little Ones

Last week I asked some friends and colleagues for their favorite Halloween/October stories, songs and fingerplays. Below is a sampling of what was shared with me. I would love to hear from you. What are some of your favorites?

Books:

Creepy Carrots! By Aaron Reynolds
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
The Rabbi and the 29 Witches by Marilyn Hirsh

Songs:

“Spider on the Floor” performed by Raffi – hand out rubber spiders for children to use during the song
“Monster Mash” (your favorite version) – dance with scarves or march with musical instruments
“Have You Seen the Ghost of John?” – perfect for those old enough to want to be scared but young enough to find singing about a chilly bunch of bones to be scary
Boo, Cackle, Trick or Treat album performed by Sue Schnitzer
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Fingerplays/Flannel Stories/Movement Activities

“In a Dark, Dark Wood” this can be told as a story on its own, or as a flannel story. Adjusting the story to your environment can be a fun way to draw children in.

“5 Little Pumpkins”

 

Jbrary on YouTube is great for songs and chants anytime of the year. Here is just one of their offerings for fall/Halloween storytimes.

New Music Perfect for the Classroom

Sing-a-Long History, Vol. 2: The Rocket Went Up! performed by The Deedle Deedle Dees
Target Audience: Grades 3 and Up

deedleReturning with their first album in five years, the Deedle Deedle Dees created another great collection of songs that are not only fun to listen to, but also teach something along the way. The 16 original songs in this collection span a variety of musical genres while celebrating real-life heroes. These heroes include Houdini, Ada Lovelace – the world’s first computer programmer, and swimmer Diana Nyad, as well as Charles Darwin and the early human, Lucy. Joining in on the fun is an ode to 3.14 in “Pi,” a fun sing-a-long honoring female astronauts in “The Rocket Went Up!,” and a rap battle for the ages in “Tesla v. Edison.” The songs on this album could easily be used as conversation starters, writing prompts or an introduction to the subject matters.

 

Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol.1 Performed by The Whizpops!
Target Audience: Grades K to 5

whizpops-front-webWhile the focus of The Deedle Deedle Dees album is real-life heroes, The Whizpops! concentrate on songs filled with facts about some of the endangered wildlife of North America. Known for their science based music, The Whizpops! put their songwriting skills to work on 11 original songs that highlight animals such as the California condor, bison, the bull trout and the polar bear. Each song tells the story of a different animal, such as “Everything’s Better with a Mustache (Walrus Song),” with clever lyrics that weave facts about the animal’s habitat, life cycle and eating habits in in a way that feels like fun exploration. Adding to the revelry are several musical genres including a Bee Gee’s vibe on “Black Footed Ferret” and the reggae sounds detailing the life cycle of the “Monarch.” While this album is chock-full of facts and doesn’t shy from using words like carrion, metamorphosis and chrysalis, it never feels the least bit didactic. This collection would be a lively, informative addition to classroom units about animals.

Upcoming Releases

Here are a few albums that will be out in the next couple of weeks.

September 29

Sing-A-Long History, Vol. 2 performed by The Deedle Deedle Dees

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October 7

Feel What U Feel performed by Lisa Loeb

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October 14

Lemonade performed by Justin Roberts

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Wonderful YOU performed by Vanessa Trien & the Jumping Monkeys

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October 21

Live in Colour performed by Marlowe & the MiX

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Justin Roberts Greatest Hits

Justin Roberts Greatest Hits performed by…Justin Roberts
Target Audience: PreS-Gr 3

Two time GRAMMY nominee, Justin Roberts, has been thrilling young audiences for almost two decades. With each album, he’s refined his power pop sound while crafting songs that are both silly yet relatable to young listeners. Whether it’s the child playing baseball who easily gets distracted by all the other things around him in “Pop Fly” or the children in the classroom who are eagerly awaiting that moment when the bell rings for “Recess,” Roberts perfectly captures the way young minds work.  Listeners who have younger brothers or sisters will appreciate songs such as “Meltdown” where an older sibling “innocently” borrows the younger brother’s favorite crayon while others may enjoy a sibling puzzling over a younger brother who is “Obsessed by Trucks.” With Halloween quickly approaching, children will also enjoy the building excitement in “Trick or Treat.”  If you’re not familiar with Justin Roberts, this album is a great introduction. If you are familiar, but can’t afford the eight albums these 16 original songs come from, this is the perfect way to add him to your collection.

Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island

Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island performed by Sonia De Los Santos
Audience: All Ages

Sonia De Los Santos, who was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico,  does a wonderful job of taking listeners on a tour of Spanish speaking countries in this, her first solo album for families. This collection of twelve songs includes music from Mexico, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and even a Venezuelan song derived from a Puerto Rican poem. De Los Santos opens the album with the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land is Your Land,” which she skillfully translated into Spanish and performs as “Esta Es Tu Tierra.” Dan Zanes and Friends join her on the original “Tan Feliz” as well as a translated version of Pete Seeger and Lee Hays’s “If I Had a Hammer,” here named “El Martillo.”  Also included are songs such as the traditional Mexican rhyme, “Chocolate,” which would be perfect for storytime, “La Golondrinas” a lively original tune about animals that are sometimes referred to as immigrant birds, and a tribute to De Los Santos’s beautiful hometown, “Monterrey.” Sonia De Los Santos is joined by a host of talented musicians from around the world who accompany her on instruments such as the jarana, guitar, violin, maracas and bongos. While all of the songs are sung in Spanish, listeners do not have to speak Spanish to enjoy them. Beautifully illustrated liner notes contain the lyrics as well as a note in English from De Los Santos giving some background to each song. Any of these songs could easily be incorporated into programs or lesson plans about music, dance, families or other cultures. A must have from the newest performer on the children’s Spanish language music scene.

Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album

Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album performed by Ginalina
Target Audience: Preschool to Grade 3

ginalina2My favorite time of the year to take long walks in the great outdoors is in the fall, when there is just the beginning of a crispness to the air and the leaves are changing colors and drifting to the ground. It’s during September and October when those hurried footsteps of summer begin to slow down that I take a deep breath and really enjoy all that is around me. Tonight, I realized as dusk began descending so much earlier than I thought it should, that autumn is really not that far away. And it was then that I remembered this lovely CD that first came to my attention in the spring.

Canada-based singer/songwriter Ginalina perfectly captures the gentle, awesome wonders of nature in Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album, her second album for children. A couple of years ago Ginalina, along with her three young children, spent weekly adventures in the forests of British Columbia’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park. It was these walks in the woods that became the inspiration for the 15 original songs in this collection. Ginalina’s beautiful soprano blends perfectly with among other instruments, banjo, violin, guitar and in one case kazoo, on these folk/pop/country infused tunes. Included on the album are two French language songs. “La Vie est Belle” which has such a catchy melody that even listeners who don’t know any French will find themselves singing along and “Play…Jouer,” a bilingual echo song that children will enjoy participating in. Songs about friendship and love (of one another and blueberry pancakes) are in this collection as well.

There are also several fact-filled songs that are so well written that children won’t realize how much they are learning. “Rainbow” teaches listeners about the colors and science that make a rainbow, while “Honey; We Love You” is a great ode to the honey bee. In addition, “Shapes are Everywhere” is filled with beautiful harmonies that describe all the shapes that can be found in nature. The delightful video below could easily be used in storytime, in the classroom, or before a family walk as an introduction to this concept.

In this world where everyone, no matter how young, is always plugged in, Forest Friends’ Nature Club Album is the perfect reminder to take time, relax, and enjoy the amazing beauty that is all around you.

 

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