10 Favorite Folk Children's Albums: Must-Have Children's Albums

Are you guilty of a few slightly ridiculous motherhood philosophies? Like only buying classic books with beautiful hardcovers? Or only dressing your kids in clothing without cartoon characters? Or only buying organic, even if it's a packaging nightmare?  And do you follow these philosophies because you believe somehow your children's life will be more rich/beautiful/healthy? I'm guilty. Here's another one of mine:

I used to think it was my motherly duty to teach my kids all the classic children's folk songs. I took it sooo seriously. As if their childhood would be lost if they didn't learn all the words to Oh My Darling Clementine. Simply put, I thought it was sweet to hear them sing classic folk songs. But in a larger sense, I thought those songs were giving my kids a solid start to music. This, of course, was without doing a single shred of research. Just my gut feelings. These music lessons started in my minivan years ago in San Francisco. It was my favorite part about owning a car. 

Since moving to the city and getting rid of my car, my music lessons have stopped and my kids brains have slowly began to rot. That is, until we saw the Imagination Movers last week thanks to The Moms. While Imagination Movers songs aren't exactly folksy, they did a good job at getting the kids to dance, sing, and enjoy live music. The event made me want to bring back some of my old favorite albums and reintroduce them to my family. I'm sure my kid's eyes are rolling even as I type this. 

I've written my top 10 favorite children's albums before, but I'm including it again today. This time in a simple list format. After the jump. Also, some more pictures of the concert.

1. The Johnny Cash Children's Album 
An unlikely favorite for the kids. I knew I was going to like it, because I love anything Johnny Cash sings. I was surprised that my kids favorite song off the album was Grandfather's Clock. I don't know why they love it so much. It might be because it's a repetitive song and easy to learn the words. The usually response from my kids after this song is over is, "Play it again! Again!" I like it enough that I usually say yes.

2. Ella Jenkins: You'll Sing a Song and I'll Sing a Song
My daughter sang the title song from this album for her pre-k graduation two years ago. I thought it was a perfect choice and bought the album for sentimental reasons. The other songs are just as sweet and noteworthy.

3. Jack Johnson and Friends: Curious George Soundtrack
This album is on heavy rotation at my house and I'm not even a huge Jack Johnson fan. However, I think he nailed it with this album. Tip: This album makes a great Pandora Radio Station.

4. Timmy Abell: Little Red Wagon
This album was a surprise favorite. I wasn't familiar with Timmy Abell before I checked this album out from the library, but he was an instant hit with me and the kids. They especially like Track 2: Going to Grandmas. All the transportation sound effects won them over.

5. Frances England: Fascinating Creatures
This album is great from start to finish. It doesn't have a boring song. The songs are really easy to learn the words and has topics my kids can relate to like blueberry pancakes and tricycles. It makes me feel peaceful and happy.

6. Various Artists: Bright Spaces 2
I'm surprised to see that this album is so hard to find. I love it. I used the song When You're Smilin' in the background for one of my iMovies. I also used the song Soy del Pueblo for the back ground music for a different iMovie about our trip to Mexico. All the songs on this album would be the perfect background music for you home movies.

7. Lisa Loeb: Camp Lisa
I love this album for teaching my daughter all the words to Home Home on the Range! It such an ironic song for a city child to love. After awhile, I found myself belting out the last three songs on the album (alone!). I'm always sad when it it's over.

8. Pete Seeger: Children's Concert At Town Hall
This is by far my favorite album on the list. It has the best songs. Nothing is more fun than belting out "Oh Shenandoah" with Pete Seeger backing my vocals. I shut my eyes and let it all out. I'm a horrible singer but during this song, I've got all the talent in the world.

 9. Dan Zanes: Catch That Train
This album is only 10 years old, and it's already a classic in my book. Every time I'm in Brooklyn I keep my eye out for him.

10. Elizabeth Mitchell: You Are My Sunshine
If you like Frances England, you'll like this album too. Sweet songs about childhood. Can't go wrong.


  1. I am guilty of all of the ridiculousness you cite. Which must be more of a reflection on me than on my kids. What can I say, I am afraid of blending in as just another soccer mom and losing my identity, haha.

    1. "blending in as just another soccer mom and losing my identity, haha." haha so true

    2. You make a great point, Stefania! Those silly rules we have our kids do are more of a reflection of us than our kids. Sharon, if they had their choice, you know they would be reading books with wild covers, wearing Angry Birds shirts and having McDonalds for dinner! lol I think you're a great mom and your quest to make things nice for your kids is sweet.

  2. NO video games period! Unless they are over at a friends and they can’t be very violent, and no television, (movies yes). Giving them only a few toys and the toys they do have promote imagination (building blocks, shovels, toy boats etc)
    What is most crazy about all these is I don’t even have kids yet. One time at a party I was telling some friends about these odd philosophies and they told me that I would an awful mom! Then later I read a few articles that stated that all of my, “boring/odd mom” philosophies were actually better parenting practices. I still feel rather vindicated ha ha. I think that all of yours are great too.

    1. The only pre-baby rule I haven't broken is no "Barney" and I'm sticking fast to it!

  3. Awe Curious George! At least the classics never die and will always remind them of you (being crazy or not) =]

  4. Thanks! I pinned this list for future reference!

  5. Currently obsessed with "The Muppets" soundtrack from the recent movie. The songs get stuck in my head, but I don't mind. "Life's a happy song when there's someone by your side to sing along" brilliant. I didn't know there were any verses to "Home on the Range" I will have to check that out. I can't believe I didn't know a bout the Cash album either, and I thought I was so cool. Good recommendations, lots of children's music is so terrible, and the stuff my husband plays sometimes scares our little Estrella.

  6. i can't believe you don't list Tom Chapin (Harry's brother) all albums are just awesome and include one song that is an adaptation of a classical piece. when my kids were young, i found myself leaving the cd on in the car when they weren't with me, the music is that good. please spread the word.

  7. Love Ella Jenkins, Pete Seeger, Elizabeth Mitchell and The Beatles for kids. I like Jose Luis Orozco for Spanish. I'll have to check out the rest of your list. I like that having kids gives you an excuse to sing anytime you want (walking down the street, driving in the car, changing a diaper, shopping) w/o anyone thinking you're dreaming of being on American Idol.

  8. I'm so with you on clothing with no character except Marvel and DC classics. And I tried sticking to organic food but sometimes it can be expensive. I try to buy locally grown produce every once in a while.

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