Songs for your kid’s playlist

Growing up in Canada, I had three particular albums of kids’ music that got played over and over (and over) again: Sharon, Lois, and Bram’s One Elephant, Deux Elephants, Raffi Cavoukian’s Singable Songs, and a rather obscure recording by a German children’s choir (sent to me by a favourite Aunt) which included a sung version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. So when my daughter was born, I was ecstatic to find and download remastered digital versions of the very same songs I had loved as a child (although, alas, not the Oberkirchen children’s choir). Even more fun for me, as a mom and as a musician, was to discover a whole range of wonderful kids’ singer-songwriters that had emerged since my long-ago childhood.

Are the wheels on the bus driving you up the wall? Check out these great recommendations for parent-friendly kids’ music.

Parents, there’s no need to go crazy with one more repetition of baby shark or those darn wheels on the bus. There’s plenty of great kids’ music that you can enjoy as well. Here are five of our favourites:

Fanny Crosby poet hymnwriter

1. The Laurie Berkner Band

Laurie is our number one go-to for pre-school songs. Sweet or silly, her engaging folk-rock style gets little ones grooving while the clever lyrics make her songs worth listening to. Our favourite tunes include “Victor Vito,” “Let’s go Swimming,” “Bumblebee (buzz buzz),” and “Fast and Slow”—all of which are on Laurie’s Best of album. Laurie’s songs always engage children’s creativity, imagination and emotion, and she’s got super-fun videos and picture books that go with her songs!

2. The Wiggles

My Australian-raised hubby introduced my canuck ears to this Aussie institution. Our little one came along just as the first-ever female Wiggle, the bow-wearing, ballet-dancing, drum-playing Emma, made her debut. She listened to the original group, as well as new Wiggle songs (“Do the Propellor” and other songs on the Taking Off album kept her entertained on more than one long flight). But it was Emma that turned my daughter into a number-one Wiggle fan. Emma announced her retirement from the band in 2021, but don’t worry, there’s a new female Wiggle donning the yellow jersey. They’ve been around Oz forever, but finally the Wiggles are building international recognition; I know they’ll be a hit on any pre-schooler’s playlist.

Fanny Crosby poet hymnwriter
Fanny Crosby poet hymnwriter

3. Colin Buchanan

Another Australian specialty, we love Colin’s crazy sense of humour. Who else could come up with kid-focused parodies of reality shows such as “Survivor Man” and “Super Chef” or turn the gallop from the William Tell Overture into the “Ping Pong National Anthem” (you can find this one on his Nicky Nacky Nocky Noo album). Colin’s Christian songs are just as wacky, and they’re great ways for your little ones to memorize scripture (“Baa baa doo baa baa” was an instant hit in our house—I’ll let you guess what Bible verse it’s based on). What really hooked me about Colin was how, in the midst of all the craziness, he pops in a soul-sweet song like “Press on Mums” or “Real Hope” to remind the parents in the room why we do what we do, and that we don’t have to do it alone.

4. Brent Holmes

Fun songs with animal and environmental themes, Brent’s “Moose Toones,” “Bear tunes,” and, okay, “Cow Tunes,” all vibe to my Canadian upbringing. But his Island Tunes (ie. “The Kooky Little Coconut”) gets played more than anything else in our house and car (maybe because my sis had recently moved to Hawaii when we discovered these songs). My daughter and I still argue over whether “I Left my Boat out in the Bay” or “Volcano Juice” is the best track on the album, but either way, we both sing along. 

Fanny Crosby poet hymnwriter
Fanny Crosby poet hymnwriter

5. Emily Arrow

Emily Arrow plays a mean ukulele (among other things), and her sweet, engaging vocals always set a happy tone. We first found Emily Arrow through her youtube channel, but quickly added her songs to our playlist. Emily has a couple albums of favourite picture books put to music (including my daughter’s fav Narwhal & Jelly!) But we also love her original songs, especially “Follow Your Arrow” and “Put a Poem in Your Pocket,” and the sweet night-time sounds of Ukulele Moon.    

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