Various Artists

Smithsonian Folkways Children's Music Collection

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There are over 200 children's recordings in the Folkways catalog. This is not just a smart collection of 26 of the best items from that body of work; it's also folk music that adults might actually listen to for pleasure, at least for part of the time. There are kids' songs, or at least songs that are fun for kids to sing, from such folk giants as Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Cisco Houston, and Woody Guthrie; Guthrie's "Riding in My Car (Car Song)" is a particular hoot. But there are also tracks from far lesser-known performers, such as children's music specialist Ella Jenkins, and, most importantly, a smattering of cuts from singers of several different continents. There's calypso from Lord Invader, African folk from W.K. Amoaku, Yiddish folk from Ruth Rubin, and selections from Puerto Rican and Mexican artists, not to mention poems by Langston Hughes. It's a fine way to help give kids a multicultural musical grounding without being doctrinaire in the least.

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