Posted by: Jamie Stamm | March 6, 2008

What we listen to

Nine times out of 10, when I start up my minivan, the music coming from my CD player will be something the kids have picked out. That’s because we have a killer commute (a total of an hour and a half each weekday), and while my daughter Cera is old enough to entertain herself by coloring or playing games on her Leapster, my son Anthony has only the CD player or Mommy’s voice to keep him entertained.

Wisely, he usually opts for the CDs.

Thus, I have amassed quite the collection of children’s music, both for my kids’ amusement and to maintain my own sanity because, let’s face it, there’s only so many times that you can listen to Elmo sing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” (in third person, mind you) before you start to consider driving your car (or, in my case, minivan) off a bridge.

So, today, for other parents out there, I’m sharing my top 5 kids’ performers (that moms and dads can tolerate, too).

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1. Justin Roberts: For my money, Justin Roberts is the best children’s singer out there today. His songs are witty, silly and oftentimes educational. And he has an AMAZING voice – he actually sounds a bit like James Taylor. We own four of his seven CDs (his newest CD, “Pop Fly,” will be released April 15) and have seen him perform live at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro (he’ll be back May 3, but tickets aren’t on sale yet) – don’t know who had more fun at that one – the kids or my husband and I. I plan to share my top Roberts’ songs in another blog, but in the meantime, learn more about him at his Web site, http://www.justinroberts.org/home.php. And go buy one of his CDs (they’re available on amazon.com) – you won’t regret it.

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2. Donna Washington: We were introduced to Donna Washington, a North Carolina-based storyteller, when former Herald correspondent Susan Farrington interviewed her after the release of her fifth CD, “Angels’ Laughter,” back in 2006. That recording, which features a mix of poetry, stories and songs, is my kids’ favorite “story” CD. Our top picks as a family include “The Prince and the Soccer Ball,” “Boo Stew” and “Tipingee,” but as a parent, I can’t help but tear up every time I hear the touching opening poem, “Play With Me Mommy.” We also enjoy Washington’s “Troubling Trouble,” a collection of African and African-American tales (tops on our list is “Brer Possum and the Snake” – my kids crack up when Brer Snake hisses, “Maybe I will … maybe I won’t … c’mon”). Learn more about Washington, or order one of her CDs, at her Web site, http://www.dlwstoryteller.com/.

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3. Laurie Berkner: Probably the most commercial of my picks (if you’ve watched Noggin or visited the Noggin Web site, there is no way you don’t know who she is), Laurie Berkner was our first introduction to children’s music. Her tunes are catchy as can be (and thus will get stuck in your head for days on end) and the lyrics are easy for kids to pick up (Cera and Anthony absolutely love “I Know a Chicken” from the CD “Whaddya Think of That?”). Find out more about Berkner at her Web site, http://www.twotomatoes.com/site/.

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4. Ralph’s World: We found out about Ralph’s World completely by accident. My sister Katie, who lives in Wilmington, found an MP3 player on the beach that had Ralph’s World’s “At the Bottom of the Sea” on it. We fell in love with this catchy tune and bought the CD of the same name, as well as Ralph’s World’s “Green Gorilla, Monster & Me.” Like Justin Roberts, his songs are witty, fun and educational (“Eighteen Wheels on a Big Rig” teaches kids how to count forward, backward, by even numbers and by odd, and my daughter learned how to spell “mommy” and “daddy” by listening to “The Coffee Song”). But one of my favorite Ralph’s World moments is when he explains that “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a song about existentialism. Learn more about Ralph’s World at http://www.ralphsworld.com/.

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5. John Lithgow: Yes, for those of you who didn’t know that the star of “3rd Rock from the Sun” and other TV shows and movies dating back to the 1970s is a children’s musician (and author, although that’s another blog), let me tell you that he’s a good one. We only own one of his three CDs (1999’s “Singin’ in the Bathtub”), but it is great. Though mainly remakes (my fave is his version of “The Hippopotamus Song”), there are some originals thrown in, including the Lithgow-penned “Big Kids.” My children (and myself) have lots of laughs listening to, and singing along with, “I Had a Rooster.” Visit Lithgow’s Web site at http://www.johnlithgow.com/home.html.

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Responses

  1. LOL, funny header image 😉

  2. Thanks for this list! I’ve never heard of any of these except for John Lithgow and Laurie. In addition to Laurie, we listen to Songs for Wiggleworms and Mr. Al. Mr. Al comes to Raleigh and Fay. each year and he is a lot of fun!


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