Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s fourth annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year rather than doing a best of list, instead, I compile a list of my favorite albums.
2021 was an amazing year for children’s music with innumerable new artists making their way into the spotlight while more established acts continued to create incredible music and forged new musical partnerships with those they met along the way. Let’s say hello to 2022 by taking a look back at “the year that was” in children’s music. Don’t see your favorites listed below? Add them in the comments!
March roared in with the arrival of music from two evergreen children’s performers – Laurie Berkner and The Wiggles. Not one to let something like a pandemic slow her down, on March 5, Laurie released her 14th album, Let’s Go! Filled with her signature style these 16 songs, running a brief 33 minutes total, will not disappoint. Tracks like “When It’s Cold,” “Time to Eat,” and “Jumping Jack” would be welcome additions to storytimes as they encourage children to wiggle, jump, spin, clap, and knock while “Happy New Year” is the perfect way to end this year’s Noon Year’s Eve events. Reminders of the times in which we live are evident in “The Superhero Handwashing Song,” “The Superhero Mask Song,” and the opening track, “Let’s Go!” which celebrates the building excitement as everyone gets ready to go outside. In addition to all of this fun, there are also some quiet moments, times for mindfulness and reflection in “Listen to the Sounds,” and “Beautiful Light.”
March 5 must have been a special day because it also saw the release of We’re All Fruit Salad: The Wiggles Greatest Hits. Featuring 40 of the group’s most popular songs, this super album celebrates 30 years of the iconic Australian children’s group. As the originators of what came to be known as “cradle rock,” the music of The Wiggles stands the test of time and will entertain old and new fans. Enjoy the delightful video for the title track “We’re All Fruit Salad!” – a takeoff on one of their hits, Packed with three decades of music and fun, there is only one thing left to say about this album – yummy, yummy!
I love books. I love music. And I really love books and music when they are joined together. Here are a few newer items that will definitely make you smile.
Laurie Berkner’s latest picture book adaptation is for her song, “Monster Boogie.” The song lyrics encouraging children to be the monster and have fun dancing and wiggling are perfectly paired with illustrations by Ben Clanton, who also illustrated Laurie’s last picture book We Are the Dinosaurs. In his lively illustrations, Clanton finds just the right balance between scary and fun that children will enjoy. Monster Boogie is a complete story that can be read all on its own or paired with the song. *A very clever book design allows for the sheet music to be included on the back cover of the book under the book jacket.
If you’re not familiar with The Secret Mountain, a publisher based out of Montreal, who specializes in original picture books that are accompanied by full-length music CDs, then you are in for a real treat. A wide variety of authors, illustrators, and musicians from all around the world contribute to this series of books. Their latest offering, The Hummingbird Sings and Dances, which is scheduled to be released next month, is completely comprised of lullabies and nursery rhymes from throughout Latin America. Each of the 19 Spanish language songs is given a two page spread that includes beautiful artwork from illustrator Mariana Ruiz Johnson, a note about which country the song comes from, and the lyrics to one of the song’s stanzas in both Spanish and English. The accompanying CD contains all 19 songs performed by the talented Mexico City-based Grupo Cantaro. The full lyrics for all of the songs, in both Spanish and English, are included at the end of the book. Hummingbird Sings and Dances would easily fit into bilingual storytimes and lessons about other cultures.
GRAMMY Award winner Tim Kubart released his first picture book in May. Oopsie-Do! is a delightful story about a young girl who rather than fretting when things go wrong proclaims, “Oopsie-Do!” and with the help of her friends and the grown-ups in her life work to make the things going wrong, go right. Lori Richmond’s charming illustrations include a diverse cast of characters that embody all of the ups and downs that the children go through in a day. This is a great storytime book as well as a good title to share one-on-one. Pair this with Tim’s adorable full-lengthvideo for the song version of Oopsie-Do!
While each of these titles is completely different, they would all be right at home in any collection.
Several albums were released over the busy summer months by some of our favorite artists. Here are just a few that everyone should have in their collections.
Camp Songs performed by Ella Jenkins & Friends (released June 23)
It’s hard to believe, but Ella Jenkins, the grande dame of children’s music, has been recording music with Smithsonian Folkways for 60 years. Recording camp songs is something that she had wanted to do for over a decade so when her voice wasn’t strong enough to take the lead on the 25 songs chosen for this album, she enlisted the help of the children and parents from Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music along with Kate and Tony Seeger to bring each song to fruition. The result is a rich compilation of folk songs, sing-alongs, nonsense songs and rounds capturing America’s diversity.
Time Machine Guitar performed by Ralph’s World (released August 4)
Ralph Covert’s latest Ralph’s World album is a raucous voyage through time that provides fun history lessons about such subjects as Ben Franklin, King Tut and Christopher Columbus. A 1960s/1970s rock treatment is given to many of the songs while others get a jazz or Latin music flair.
Lead Belly, Baby! performed by Dan Zanes and Friends (released August 25)
This introduction to the music of the incomparable Lead Belly is presented by Zanes and a whole host of guests including Father Goose, Sonia De Los Santos, Elena Moon Park, Aloe Blacc and Chuck D. The fifteen folk songs are given a modern twist making them easily accessible to today’s audiences.
Laurie Berkner: The Dance Remixes performed by Laurie Berkner (release September 22)
This collection presents 14 of Berkner’s classic songs such as “We Are the Dinosaurs,” “Bumblebee,” and “Telephone” in a way that listeners have never heard them before. Each of the songs is given an EDM makeover that will really appeal to older children who want to listen to “grown-up” music but aren’t quite ready for grown-up lyrics.
What a great month March is turning out to be for the release of picture books by the fantastic folks in children’s music. On March 7, we said hello to Thousand Star Hotel by the GRAMMY winning duo The Okee Dokee Brothers. This retelling of “The Fisherman and His Wife” illustrated by Brandon Reese features Mr. and Mrs. Muskrat who live near a big river. An accompanying CD includes the audiobook for the story as well as 11 songs performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers.
Also making a splash on March 7 was Dive In! by 2017 GRAMMY nominee Recess Monkey. Illustrated by Rob McClurkan, this interactive undersea adventure will delight young ones as they participate in the escapades of Burt the Blobfish and Sir Sebastian Stockingbottomham.
Mark your calendars! March 21 is the date for the release of the amazing Laurie Berkner’s new book, We Are the Dinosaurs. This combination of the lyrics from Laurie’s hit song “We Are the Dinosaurs” and adorable illustrations by Ben Clanton is sure to be a hit!
And in a #FBF Flashback Friday, I’d like to highlight Zar and the Broken Spaceship by children’s music extraordinaire, Dino O’Dell and illustrated by Santiago Germano. This is the story of three friends who meet the alien Zar, learn a lot about team work as they help him fix his spaceship and make a new friend along the way. One of the librarians who works with me has been using this book in her preschool visits this winter. The fun, interactive aspects of the story have made it such a hit with the preschoolers that it quickly became the finale of each storytime.
Do you have a favorite picture book by children’s musical artists that you like to use for storytime or in the classroom?
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?
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?
Superhero Performed by The Laurie Berkner Band Target Audience: Ages 1 to 7
It has been eight years since Laurie Berkner released an album of all new music, but it was certainly worth the wait. Superhero is packed with 21 brand new songs that will delight and engage young listeners. The overarching theme of self-empowerment is evident in tunes like the title song, “Superhero” and “I’ve Got So Much To Give” while emphasis on using your imagination is featured in “Bubbles” and “Tea Party.” Special guests, Ziggy Marley, Brady Rymer, and Kira Willey add to the fun.
Not only is the album filled with great themes, but it’s also filled with music that would be great for storytimes. The song “1-2 Hands” which counts eyes, toes, fingers, etc. and “Face to Face” would work well in toddler storytimes where children and their parent/caregiver can interact. For preschool storytimes and above, “Bicycle” can get kids moving (if you’re not keen on kids running, have them act out the speed of the song with arm movements) as does “This Is How I Do It” which encourages jumping, shaking hands, shaking knees and dancing. Simple lyrics also make this a great sing along. If you host a music program or smaller class, the song “The Music in Me” could easily be adapted and used as a welcome song. With so many uses, this a must have for staff. Make sure the parents have access to it too, because once the kids hear it, they’ll be clamoring for more!
Take a look at the video for the title track, “Superhero.”