Children’s Music that Doesn’t Make Me Want to Puke

Before I had kids, I swore I would listen to MY music in the car. Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to listen to or that it’s too loud!

Now I have kids and we listen to children’s music in the car. There’s a reason why and I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret. People learn by repetition. If we listen to “adult” music in the car there’s just so many new-to-them songs coming at the kids they start to be overwhelmed. It’s taken me 20+ years to learn all these lyrics, so understandably kids need some time to catch up. If they have their own music, it narrows down the playing field so they are better able to cope.

Now finding kids music that doesn’t make me want to gouge out my own eardrums after 40-50 listenings is a huge deal. I heartily dislike lots of children singing off key. It’s cute if it’s my kid but otherwise, I’m not interested. I think it’s probably good for children to hear other kids singing (my sister-in-law, Joy, can probably even tell you why) but all the time in the car, forget about it. I also have this thing about real instruments. Yes, keyboards are instruments (I grew up listening to Howard Jones for crying out loud) but when the entire song is fake horn hits and drum line I don’t think the kids are getting a realistic idea of what instruments sound like. So with just those two requirements, I’ve narrowed down the field to something like 20 albums. How sad is that?

Here are a few of our favs that I’m not ashamed for other adults to know that I listen to and, gasp, even enjoy:

Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies
Rick gave us this album before Liza was born and I’m sorry to say that we only started listening to it a couple of months ago. Since then it’s been on continuous play both in our car and in our heads. “Tractor, Tractor” is the family favorite since both Eli and Liza’s name can be inserted into the lyric and then commentary on what they are doing to follow. My favorite right now, “Liza, Liza dancing all the time! Liza, Liza dancing all the time! Dancing all the time, dancing all the time! Liza, Liza dancing all the time!” Liza obediently starts doing her knee bendy dance when we sing it.

Sing Along with Putumayo
I think this CD might have come from Joy. Real artists! Using real instruments! Also, once you hear “Banana Phone” you’ll never look at your cell phone in the same way again.

Folk Playground
This one has some classic songs that I remember singing as a kid and then a few I didn’t know. “Sheep” will make you giggle and “It’s All How You Look At It” will give you a little tear in your eye. We use this one for dance party at our house fairly regularly.

This is Liza’s nap music. I bought it for $2 when the Kindermusik site was closing out it’s toy selection. I bought a half dozen because I knew it would be good and I’d want to share it with other parents. I was so right. I love sitting in Liza’s room and hearing these songs. They now make me sleepy and dreamy by association.

Victor Vito
This is the album we own but truthfully, anything by Berkner is great. She ran videos on Noggin for a while and her infectious smile is a complete winner. Our favorite from this album hands down is “Moon, moon, moon.”

This is an Arkansas singer that both my mom and step-mom found the same Christmas. We have the Christmas record and “…A kid like you” but “Again” is the best one. He does break my kid singing rule on a regular basis but I give him a pass for “Hip, Hip Hooray.”

We also like a number of songs by Dan Zanes but don’t own any of his albums.

If you have a favorite kid’s record, I’d love to know what it is. It’s always nice to have some new tunes when you cruise around in the springtime with the windows open, even if it is with two car seats in the back.

18 thoughts on “Children’s Music that Doesn’t Make Me Want to Puke

  1. One great source for Kid’s Music is the blog Zooglobble. I used to follow it fairly regularly and always loved what I found. A lot of it is folks like Dan Zanes or Lori Berkner, but there are many other great lesser knows like Elizabeth Mitchell, who I hear great things about though I haven’t heard her.

    I also highly recommend any kind of folk music (things like Putumayo or Woodie Guthrie’s kids songs). These are incredibly important for helping young kids develop roots in their native musical language (i.e. American pop and art music is based in American folk traditions) much in the same way we develop spoken language.

  2. Ellric loved ‘The Wiggles’ for years, and they were definitely listentoable.

  3. yeah for laurie berkner!!!!
    i absolutely love her. i think i would listen to her even if i didnt have kids. victor vito is number one on my blog playlist right now.

  4. Lucian: We’ve never pushed The Wiggles although we do have a faux Wiggles mp3 player that Eli loves.

    dfan: Eli would be one of those kids. We were singing “the rock out song” (“Hey”) just the other day.

  5. I love Peter, Paul, and Mommy, a collection of folk and children’s songs by (you guessed it), Peter, Paul and Mary.

    My mom just introduced us to Blue Moo, which is not *quite* filk–it’s pastiches of 50s style music with kids’ lyrics, sung by actual 50s and 60s artists (Neil Sedaka, Beebe King, Davy Jones), and with a songbook illustrated by Sandra Boynton.

  6. Veggie Tales. Anything Veggie Tales. I’m 25 years old, I do not have children, and I will still listen to my Veggie Tales CDs on occasion.

    The movies are pretty fantastic, too.

    I mean, where else are you going to get morally-themed vegetables singing songs like “I Love My Lips” and “The Water Buffalo Song”?

  7. Okay, I have to chime in here…I know a lot of the children’s music out there is god-awful, which is exactly the reason why we created “Stardust” – a 2-disc lullaby collection for all ages, by Cher & Gene Klosner and Audible Chocolate Productions.

    Quick description: Rich male and female vocals accompanied by authentic instrumentation (performed symophony, conservatory and jazz musicians) – none of that awful synthesizer sound!!Stardust is getting great reviews – visit for soundclips, reviews and to view our new animated video, “Seepy Sams” – I swear, it won’t make you want to puke 🙂

    Cher Klosner Lane

  8. They might be giants albums No! and Here come the 123’s are fantastic. the album here come the ABC’s is ok but not as good.

  9. Ok, I know it’s bizarre, but try to take a listen to Baby Beatles. My cousin lived in California (we were in Virginia at the time) when our first son was born. She told us there was a whole series of “Baby…” music. Baby Elvis among them somewhere. Anyway, we never did find them anywhere, but Baby Beatles has made it through all my sons. It’s real instruments, but they are specifically chosen to be the tones that baby’s hear and respond to the best. There’s nothing quite like hearing “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine” sound like a music box.

  10. We still do see Laurie’s videos occasionally on Noggin. She’s not the only one doing videos these days… so she’s not shown as often. We take it as a special treat whenever we see her. Our kids, 7 and 9, still watch Noggin before bedtime because it’s one of the only ‘kid frinedly’ channels that late at night.. the other being PBS Kids Sprout, which drove all four of us up a tree.

    You find a lot of CDs out there with kids singing, and they always sound slightly off-key. Some are better than others, but thank you for more suggestions! (Although my kids insist on listening to TMBG and SoVoSo right now…)

  11. Z is still young, so we own the music in this house still. I will have to be prepared for when we have to make the switch to kid music…

    Neither of us really listen to “current” music, so our radio station is permanently on the classic-rock station. That helps solve the problem of finding repetitive music. Z loves Honest Bob (yay!), TMBG, Beck (no idea how that happened), and the Beatles. Every Sunday morning, Z listens to “Brunch with Beatles” so he is familiar with a lot of the songs to the point where when we heard “Baby you can drive my car” at the supermarket, he said to me, “car! song!”

  12. I personally love O, Mickey, Where Art Thou (but also any kind of bluegrass), Mary Had A Little Amp, Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chicken, Wiggly Wiggly World, and The Planet Sleeps. But it was all over when I discovered the 1940’s XM station that we have via directv…we all love that. Another, more obscure, and odder group is The Ben Gunn Society, which can be found on napster, for instance, is very quirky.

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