When looking through my social media feeds, it looked like the last week or so of December was spent bemoaning how horrible 2016 was as we continued to deal with the results of the presidential election, what felt like the almost daily deaths of our childhood/teen icons and the normal stresses of the holiday season. I admit that I often found myself quickly empathizing during both in-person and online conversations with this feeling of good riddance to a year that couldn’t end soon enough. But was what I was feeling a true reflection of the year I had just had? All it took was a couple of hours of organizing pictures for my yearly scrapbook to realize that I was wrong. I had actually had a really amazing year during which I was fortunate enough to do many really fun, fantastic things with friends and family that I love.
And that’s what I need to remember as I welcome in 2017. That just as there will be times of sadness, stress and upset, there will also be times of happiness, love and joy. At the beginning of December, I was sent an email with the links to a couple of children’s music videos from Canadian artist, Marlowe & the Mix. I didn’t have time to watch them until this afternoon, but I think I’m going to carry one of the songs, the title track from their newest album, with me as a resolution for the new year. In 2017, rather than wrapping myself in those times of gray, I’m going to try and do as this song says and, “Live in Colour.” I think those are wise words to live by, no matter your age, don’t you?
Looking for some kid friendly holiday songs to share during your family gatherings? Try this compilation of four of Laurie’s videos that are perfect for the holidays- “Candy Cane Jane,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “Jingle Bells” and the Laurie and Brady Rymer duet, “Children Go Where I Send Thee.” Do you have any favorite children’s holiday songs?
The 59th GRAMMY Award nominees were announced today and, as always, they are fantastic. The Best Children’s Album category is filled with amazing artists, each with a unique sound. If you don’t own them, pick them up today. They all deserve a spot in every library collection.
Frances England, Explorer of the World
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Infinity Plus One
Recess Monkey, Novelties
Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, Press Play
The Okee Dokee Brothers, Saddle Up
School Library Journal released its list of the Top 10 children’s albums of 2016. Compiled by the SLJ music reviewers, all of these albums are great additions to every collection. Did your favorites make the list?
Looking for something to brighten your day? Then take a gander at this second video – a silly, delightful tale of a man and his kangaroo – from Justin Roberts’s latest album, Lemonade. Enjoy!
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.
One 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?
Last 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.
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.
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?
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?
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
“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
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.
Sing-a-Long History, Vol. 2: The Rocket Went Up! performed by The Deedle Deedle Dees
Target Audience: Grades 3 and Up
Returning 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
While 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.