While on vacation, I found myself in a store trying to pick out a movie that my sister, brother-in-law, and I would watch. Since I’ll watch pretty much anything once, I left them in the movie aisle arguing. I walked away only to discover The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Collection on the shelves of the store. I had tried to pre-order the CD a few months ago using our vendor and it wasn’t available. I immediately snatched up it up and tucked it in my basket. It was the best souvenir of my trip!
It took me a long time to enjoy and use children’s music. There are so many benefits to using music, but I have a half-decent voice and got through many years just singing a capella. It took starting my Music & Movement program — Shake, Shimmy, & Dance — to really start investigating recorded music.
Since I’ve passed thirty, I consider classic artists anyone that I listened to as a child. These include: Raffi, Sharon Lois & Bram, Ella Jenkins, Hap Palmer, and Greg & Steve. These are great core artists to be familiar with as you start learning about children’s music. I don’t incorporate a lot of their music into my programs because my programs tend to be a bit more high energy and my patrons prefer a more contemporary sound.
These are the fifteen artists (in no particular order) that I absolutely adore. I recommend checking out their entire catalogs and listening to them immediately. I did include my favorite album in case you’re pressed for time!
- Jim Gill (Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Songs & Other Contagious Tunes)
- Laurie Berkner (Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
- Caspar Babypants (More, Please!)
- Elizabeth Mitchell (Sunny Day)
- The Learning Groove (Rockin’ Red)
- Mr. Jon & Friends (Get Your Move On)
- Wiggleworms (Songs for Wiggleworms & Wiggleworms Love You — I can’t choose one!)
- Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights (I’m a Rock Star!)
- Bari Koral Family Rock Band (Rock and Roll Garden)
- The Wiggles (Hot Poppin’ Popcorn)
- Laura Doherty (Heartbeat)
- Aaron Nigel Smith (Let’s Pretend)
- Carole Peterson Stephens (Polka Dots!)
- Dreamtree Shakers (Come On a Picnic)
- Ralph Covert (Welcome to Ralph’s World)
And my top three tips for finding good recorded music:
- Fellow librarians. It seems like a cop-out to say that, but Ally Watkins gave me Joanie Leeds. Storytime Underground introduced me to Mr. Jon & Friends. Jennifer Wharton is the first person I saw using Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day. Ask on Twitter. Read Angie’s M&M post. Read my lists. Check out Kelsey & Heather’s blog Song Catchers’ Library which is open for contributions.
- ILL. Put titles on hold that sound interesting before investing your library’s money. I know budgets are tight. I have a fabulous library with a healthy budget, but I still want to spend our money in the wisest way that I can. I preview another library’s copy before purchasing our own. If you can’t do this, use Amazon’s song preview or check the artist’s website for YouTube clips.
- Reviews & sales. School Library Journal will often have children’s music reviews. I also use our vendor Midwest Tapes for reviews/sale ranks. In addition to their magazine, they allow me to sort by what’s selling in the area. I’m able to see if I missed a big released from a familiar artist. I’m also able to see what new artists are selling at high numbers.
So that’s my quick primer about recorded music. Did I miss anything or any favorite artist? Let me know in the comments!
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library