Our top twelve picks in Christian kids' audio products makes for an eclectic dozen, with some discs containing songs only, some with stories and songs, and some that might hold a few surprises.
We concentrated on releases that focus mainly on the pre-'tween set, with a couple of notable exceptions that are designed for kids but can be lots of fun for the whole family. We scanned store shelves to determine what released in 2006 that kept kids (and moms) happy and singing together at the top of their lungs, especially in the car.
Many children's album stick to the tried-and-true formula of getting kids to sing their own versions of the most popular contemporary Christian songs and modern worship songs. However, some branched beyond the norm and came up with their own catchy tunes we love! Here is our Top Twelve list for 2006:
Kids Praise! Company
It's always fun to bring back the songs you listened to when you were a kid, and Sunday School Songs 2 serves up a heaping helping. Old favorites include "His Banner Over Me Is Love," "Zaccheus Was a Wee Little Man," "Give Me Oil in My Lamp," "The Wise Man Built His House," and the classic "Jesus Loves Me." The 15-song collection goes a step further and introduces children to some of the best-loved hymns, too, with "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," "Blessed Assurance," and "This Is My Father's World." Adults and children can enjoy this one together, and the old songs will hopefully inspire parents to share stories with their kids of their own spiritual heritage.
Cedarmont, the original name in Christian kids' music, continues to deliver with Cedarmont Worship for Kids V3, a collection of modern worship songs performed by kids and set to upbeat tracks. The projects are always recorded in split-track for use by choirs or karaoke fun, and V3 contains songs that are familiar but not overdone like "Rise Up and Praise Him," "Holy Is The Lord," "Friend of God," and "Indescribable." Cedarmont offerings are always reliable for their familiar songs and upbeat but not over-the-top musical arrangements, and you've gotta love the $7.99 retail price.
Christian music has become super diverse, with every musical genre represented. It's only fair that kids' offerings should do the same. Favorite Gospel Songs for Kids gives urban kids (and anyone else) great gospel-flavored versions of favorite church and modern worship songs. The eclectic song mix includes old kid favorites like "This Little Light of Mine," classic hymns such as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," and gospel church music like "Shake the Devil Off" and "Near the Cross." The disc is recorded in split track, so choirs can use it to sing with, and the price tag is just $5.98. Good stuff!
Buena Vista Records
Baby Einstein combines classical music and biblical themes for mental and spiritual growth for tiny tots on Baby Noah, which takes infants on a "musical voyage around the globe" (according to the record label) with arrangements inspired by animals from around the world. Musical offerings include pieces from Beethoven, Bizet, and Mozart, like "The Elephant, the Giraffe, and the Butterfly" (Beethoven's Piano Sonata 15, Op. 28, 4th Movement). The orchestrations are designed just for babies, and the music is beautiful.
It wouldn't be a favorite kids' list without a generous serving of animated vegetables, and Bob and Larry are here with the first-ever Veggie worship album. The project features guest artist and worship leader Matt Redman and includes modern praise songs that Christian kids probably already love, like "Come, Now Is the Time to Worship," "God of Wonders," and "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," plus some classic worship songs from the 1970s Jesus Movement like "I Am a Promise" and "Seek Ye First," that parents can reminisce to while their kids sing along. It's interesting to hear the popular veggies lift their voices in praise, but if even the rocks can cry out, why not cucumbers?
God Rocks! Living Stones gets an "A" for originality, as the God Rocks! characters rock 'n' roll through all new songs, including a funky retelling of the parable of "the house built upon the rock," the story of the Prodigal Son, and a fresh musical version of "Our Father." You need the God Rocks! videos to get the whole effect, but kids familiar with the series will love hearing the all-new songs even without the video. There are kid-favorite rockers like "Rock Steady," "A Little Bit of Faith" and "Sonrise," and even creates a "silly song" with "Church Granny Rock."
The Absolute series has collected popular songs and put them all in one place for adults and kids, and children of all ages can rock out to both of these "absolute" albums that tie for our No. 6 spot. It's nice to see albums reach beyond the same ten songs you see everywhere, and the Yellow album does that, with modern arrangements sung by kids of worship songs like "Famous One," "The Happy Song," "He Reigns" (originally by newsboys), and "The Wonderful Cross." As for Absolute All-Time Favorites, it offers kids singing their own versions of top radio hits from their favorite artists like "Big House" (originally by Audio Adrenaline), "Lean on Me" (dc Talk), "People Get Ready, Jesus Is Comin'" (Crystal Lewis), "Thy Word" (Amy Grant) and "Friends" (Michael W. Smith).
Worship Jamz 2 offers a double-disc collection of 30 modern worship songs arranged for kids and sung by kids. The arrangements are "cool" enough to keep the elementary set entertained, and the songs contain enough variety (and are long enough) to keep parents interested. Songs include a funky take on "Come, Now Is The Time To Worship (Mo' Jammin' Version)," "I Love You Lord," Agnus Dei," "Indescribable," "Days of Elijah," "Let It Rise," "I Give You My Heart," and lots more, plus a bonus track of the song that took the No. 1 spot on recent Christian music charts, "How Great Is Our God."
Integrity brings the iWorship series back for kids in this second volume of modern worship offerings for children. The songs are high-energy and danceable, and the album includes a free bonus DVD, which makes it extra fun. There are 15 songs on this project, including "Every Move I Make," "Better Than Life," "Friend of God," "I'm Not Ashamed," and "You Are My King." The bonus DVD contains three videos, including "Who Is Like the Lord," "I'm Not Ashamed," and "So Good to Me."
The Go Fish guys are so fun and so original that they have to be included on any kids' favorites list, and this lullaby collection is no exception. Snooze aims to make going to sleep fun, with tight, a capella harmonies of soothing original songs like the cute "Little Buckaroo" and "Awake," plus familiar Go Fish songs like "You're My Little Girl." The Go Fish guys can't be beat for the best a capella sounds around for kids of all ages.
Hillsong music is inspiring worshippers around the world, and their worship offerings for kids maintain their high musical standard. Super Strong God is the follow-up to the first live kids' album, Jesus Is My Superhero, which landed in our No. 5 spot in 2005. This year, Hillsong jumps to No. 2 for giving kids original modern worship songs that are exciting, authentic, and genuine fun. Puppets Max and Melody are back with the Hillsong Kids team, leading hundreds of kids in worship with 15 new songs like "One Way," "Royalty," "Heaven in My Heart," and "Jesus in My Life. As one song title says, "Let The Children Come."
Dance Praise Expansion Pack Vol 2: Hip Hop & Rap
Dance Praise Expansion Pack Vol 3: Pop & Rock Hits
Digital Praise, Inc.
Dance Praise, the best-selling interactive dance game with Christian music, takes our top spot again. Okay, so technically it isn't just an album, but it is full of top Christian songs that play on the computer with a dancepad that gives hours and hours of exercise and entertainment for all ages. For 2006, Dance Praise introduced rock and hip hop expansion packs that tie for No. 1, with hits on the rock set from BarlowGirl, Casting Crowns, Delirious, Jeremy Camp, Kutless, MercyMe, and ZOEgirl. The Hip Hop pack features songs from tobyMac, GRITS, John Reuben and more. Put these in the PC and get your jam on as you sing and dance to favorite tunes.
To see our lists of best children's albums from previous years, click here to visit our best-of archives.
Natalie Nichols Gillespie is a mom and stepmom of seven and author of seven books, including her most recent Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families. For more information, visit www.successfuladoption.com.
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