What constitutes a good kids' album? It should elicit a reaction, whether it makes listeners jump around like maniacs or hunker down on the couch for a snuggle. A truly great kids' album is one that parents will forget to turn off after they drop off carpool or put the kids down for a nap. Here are ten of our favorites of the year, in no particular order:
• Little Nut Tree - Dan Zanes - We have been Dan Zanes fans for a long time, but when he joins forces with Sharon Jones for "In The Basement" he gets the puffy hearts.
• Music Is Awesome 3 - Yo Gabba Gabba - Even if your kids don't watch the show there is plenty on this record to enjoy. My three year old typically asks to skip the character songs in favor of original tracks by The Killers, Devo, The Flaming Lips and The Postmarks.
• Sing Along! - Caspar Babypants- This is Chris Ballew from The Presidents Of The United States Of America, and this album really does get kids and their parents to sing along. Mission accomplished, Caspar Babypants.
• A Life Of Song - Ella Jenkins - When I was a little thing my parents took me to see Ella Jenkins. Decades later I'm happy to take my kids to her concerts. Kids go bananas for Ella Jenkins year after year. This album features Ella's beautiful take on African American standards.
• Flying! - Recess Monkey - Thanks to Recess Monkey for providing the soundtrack to our family's superhero fantasies.
• Mind Of My Own - Frances England - This San Fransisco based folk singer has a spot-on understanding a kid's point of view plus guitars and pretty voice that reminds us a little of Tegan and Sara.
• Strange Dees, Indeed - The Deedle Deedle Dees - This is a totally awesome and weird record that teaches kids about history and rocking out with tracks about Marie Curie and Sacagawea, among many others. It needs to be heard to be believed.
• Tag, You're It! - The Not-Its - This one really rocks. We especially love "Mathematics," which sings the praises of favorite school subjects.