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Nine intelligent music albums for little kids


Staff member
Jan 13, 2024
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Early in my boys’ toddler years, something I particularly dreaded was getting into the car and listening to kids’ music while we rode along. Most of the kids albums I’d found had tots dancing all over the covers, but the songs within were unbearable. Syrupy, yelled in soulless unison, dull, or repetitive, these songs just amplified the grind of childcare for me and did nothing to benefit my kids, as far as I could tell. I thought this was just part of the drill, so I grinned and sang along. But inside I was weeping (okay, not really, but close).

Then one day, a friend introduced us to Dan Zanes, and set us off in a whole new direction. Liberated, we searched more widely and found some truly great kids’ music – songs and whole albums even that we could love, laugh about, and listen to a hundred times over, together.

Of those albums, here are 9 standouts that stand the test of time. They feature songs with catchy tunes and clever lyrics, the kind that my kids (now 10 and 13) and I can still chuckle at when meaning dawns years later.

Why a selection of music albums in a blog about reading, you might wonder. Because I believe many of these songs, with their rich vocabulary and intelligent wordplay, laid the early ground work for my children to truly pay attention, to work at decoding language, and fall in love with what words can do.


Sesame Street ABC CD cover
Sesame Street: Sing the Alphabet
Sing Along with Putumayo CD Cover
Sing Along with Putumayo
Meltdown CD Cover
Meltdown – Justin Roberts

Rhinoceros Tap CD cover Rhinoceros Tap – Sandy Boynton
Dog Train CD coverDog Train – Sandy Boynton

House party CD cover House Party – Dan Zanes
Family Dance CD coverFamily Dance – Dan Zanes

Farkle & FriendsFarkle & Friends – John Lithgow
Singing in the bathtub CD coverSingin’ in the Bathtub – John Lithgow

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