2020 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s third annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year I compile a list of my favorite albums, then organize them by categories that change from year-to-year. Normally I would have had this list up by the middle of December, but 2020 being 2020, it threw a last minute curveball that delayed things a bit.

The past year was a time filled with incredible challenges for children’s music. The pandemic found performers having to completely redefine how they brought their music to the masses, racial and social justice came to the forefront, and the GRAMMY controversy spurred the children’s community to action. Through it all though, one constant remained – children’s music continued to grow in ways that left listeners enthralled, enriched, and entertained. So let’s say hello to 2021 by taking a look back at the year that was in Children’s music. Don’t see your favorites in the list below? Add them in the comments!

Note: There has been a lot of discussion in the past few weeks regarding albums by BIPOC performers. I have denoted those albums with an (**). 

Wide World of Music

Fiesta Global performed by Flor Bromley**

Live in LA performed by Aaron Nigel Smith & 1 World Chorus**

Songs Across the Pond performed by David Gibb and Brady Rymer

Unhurried Journey performed by Elena Moon Park**

¡Muévete! performed by José-Luis Orozco**

Let the Good Times Roll

Giggle and Burp Ballet performed by Randy & Dave

Kokowanda Bay performed by Ruth and Emilia

Cats Sit on You performed by The Story Pirates

Camping with Dads performed by Peter Alsop

For the Love of Dads

D.a.d performed by Pierce Freelon**

Wild Life performed by Wild Life

Songs with My Daughters performed by Elliott Park

With a Little Help from My Friends

Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss performed by Rena Strober and Friends

All The Ladies performed by Joanie Leeds (and friends)

Beautiful Beats

Hey Big World performed by Wendy & DB**

Night Life performed by Sara Lovell

It’s Never Too Early

Be the Change performed by SaulPaul**

Backyard Bop performed by Red Yarn

Be a Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) Leaders performed by Alastair Moock & Friends

Double Duty – Artists who were also authors in 2020

Una Idea Tengo Yo performed by 123 Andrés /Hello Friend, Hola Amigo by 123 Andrés**

Small But Mighty performed by Ginalina/The Mighty River by Ginalina**

Good Foot performed by Jazzy Ash/Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by Ashli St. Amant (Jazzy Ash)**

Rockin’ Rhythms

Hi-Ya! performed by Go Banana Go!

Avocado performed by Rolie Polie Guacamole

Never Mind the Blocks, Here’s Jumpin’ Jamie performed by Jumpin’ Jamie

I’m an Optimist performed by Dog on Fleas

The Short and the Long of It

Honey performed by Frances England (6 songs, 15 minutes)

Awesome! performed by Jesse Jukebox (6 songs, 16 minutes)

Songs for Singin’ performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers (27 songs, 70 minutes)

Celebrate National Train Day!!

It’s National Train Day!! There’s just something magical about trains. From the big, powerful workhorses that haul goods across the country to tiny N scale model trains, there is an allure that draws in children and adults of all ages. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of enjoying just a few of the many train experiences that this country has to offer. From the Tennessee Valley Rail Road Museum’s Missionary Ridge Local excursion, to train watching with dedicated rail fans at the Rochelle Rail Park in Illinois, to exploring some of the biggest trains around at Steamtown in Scranton, PA, there is lots of fun to be had.

In celebration of National Train Day, Lindsay Munroe has released a charming video for her sing-along version of the children’s classic, “Little Red Caboose.” For lyrics and ideas on how to make interactive railroad tracks and a train whistle at home, visit Lindsay’s website.

I Am Kind Performed by Lindsay Munroe

Lindsay Munroe’s debut album I Am Kind: Songs for Unique Kids is filled from beginning to end with tracks that will soothe and delight young listeners. Munroe, a mother of three children with autism, writes songs that all children can relate to, but that include a deeper meaning for families with neurodiverse kids. Her original songs include “Waiting Nicely,” “Ask for Help,” “OK to Make Mistakes,” and “Everyone of Us Belongs” which emphasizes that we are all different (some of us flap, some of us rock, some of us use a tablet to talk) but we all have something to give. 

I Am Kind also includes familiar songs such as “This Little Light,” “Little Red Caboose,” and “Frère Jacques” as well as folk songs like “Peace Like a River” and “Bluebird, Bluebird.” The album also features a very special guest – Raffi! Not only does Raffi perform on many of the songs on the album – including “The More We Get Together” and “De Colores” – but his record label, Troubadour Music released I Am Kind, making it the first Troubadour album in decades featuring an artist other than Raffi. With its themes of encouragement and acceptance, I Am Kind fits perfectly with the Raffi Foundation’s Child Honouring principles of love, diversity and caring community. Munroe and Raffi’s voices blend beautifully while minimal instrumentation gives the lyrics room to be heard and processed.

I Am Kind: Songs for Unique Kids is available digitally now and will be released as a CD on June 12. Below is the video for the gentle title track, “I Am Kind,” a song filled with reminders that all of us need to hear sometimes.