Kyle (who just turned 4) and I have been road-testing a few CDs. They won’t be featured in Car and Driver magazine and there were no safety tests performed, but the car is where we listen to most our our music. Whether we’re taking a quick trip to preschool or a longer road trip, children’s music greases the wheels and allows us a smoother trip.
Is is a sacrifice to turn over the controls to the CD deck, but to me it’s preferable to listen to kids’ tunes than to mediate bickering or even constant chatter. It’s a welcome distraction, and if I am careful about the music I introduce them to, I find myself humming the tunes even when we aren’t in the car.
If you’d like to introduce some new music to your family’s playlist, read on. These have passed the Mom-test, the preschooler test, and are generally approved by the nine-year-old big sister as well:
Lemonsquare Music for Fun–
The first time or two we listened to this CD, I wasn’t overly impressed. The words and tunes seemed too simple. I didn’t think that Kyle or Amanda liked it much either, but when I tried to play another CD, Kyle requested Lemonsquare’s Music for Fun. When I tried to suggest some other alternatives, Amanda said that she would rather listen to Lemonsquare than that those.
It grew on me, and I submitted fully when I realized that I’m not the target audience. My only requirement is that it doesn’t annoy me, and this CD easily met that criterion. The upbeat songs are similar in sound to Laurie Berkner. The songs teach toddlers and preschoolers basic concepts, which is an appreciable bonus to me. “I Found It” teaches about body parts, “Very Veggie” teaches about eating healthy foods, “Bear Knows Best” (our favorite tune) encourages them to make the sounds that animals make, and hygiene is encouraged by “Bathtime” and “Brush My Teeth.” You can listen to samples at their website, lemonsquaremusic.com. You can also buy the CD there, or download a 60 minute sleep track designed to lull a child to sleep. You can purchase the CD or find out more through these links on amazon and itunes.
Baby Loves HipHop presents the Dino 5–
I was a bit skeptical about this CD. Hip hop? For kids? Then I saw that the “Baby Loves. . . ” franchise has received many awards and accolades. It did feature dinosaurs, which I knew would appeal to my son, so I gave it a try.
Once this CD went into the car stereo, it did not come out for several days. The songs were in constant rotation. The fact that I was still smiling and listening along is a strong testament to the production. I actually even kind of like it. By the second or third time through, Kyle was singing along with the lyrics.
The songs tell a story and are interspersed with an actual bedtime story that a mom is telling her young daughter about making friends. . After listening to it for the 45th time (which only took a couple weeks), I began to hear Kyle parrot the moral of the story, which is stated after the original Dino 4 decide to let T-Rex join their band: “Sometimes what seems scary, isn’t scary at all.”
I give the Dino 5 my highest recommendation. The music is spunky and cool, but completely child-friendly. I don’t have any hip hop or rap in my music collection, to rattling the SUV windows with the strong bass line of T-Rex’s “I May Be Big and Scary, but I’m Really Pretty Nice,” at a stoplight makes me seem way cooler than the normal Broadway tunes which might be wafting from my vehicle (which I have also found to be kid and mom-approved). You can buy download the CD on itunes or buy it or download it at amazon.com.
Can’t Help But Love You, Baby–
Karen Potje grew up hating country music. When she moved to Texas (where she sang with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), she just couldn’t resist any longer. She came to love the music and even wrote some of her own. When her first child was born, she couldn’t stop writing about the relationship between moms and kids. She wanted to write songs that would appeal equally to kids and the adults that care for them.
She succeeded! Kyle calls this CD “your CD.” As in, “Can we listen to your new CD?” which he does ask regularly. Among the kid-picks, it’s definitely Amanda’s favorite. Kyle recognizes the quality of grown up music–nice vocals and background music without silliness. Wait–there is silliness, but it’s refined silliness. The song, “Better Keep Your Shoes On” warns children what might happen if your toes aren’t contained within your socks and shoes. Our favorite song, “Bunnies on my PJs” is a toddler’s lament about being stuck in cutesy PJs when he really likes his jammies tough.
Stylistically the music on Can’t Help But Love You Baby is varied–a little Spanish “ai-yai-yai” in one song, some jazzy tunes, folksy country and more. It’s all pretty laid back, and it’s pretty appealing to all ages, which is a great way to keep the energy level and arguing down, which is sometimes just what the Mommy ordered.
If you’d like to win a set of all three of these CDs, leave a comment here.