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6 classic folk song collections for children

Collections from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, and more.

NURSERY DAYS

To hear Woody Guthrie imitate the “aah-OOO-gah” sound of a car horn in his “Riding in My Car (Car Song)” is worth the price of admission on this collection. Another standout is “Don’t You Push Me Down,” often called an anti-bullying anthem.

CHILDREN’S CONCERT AT TOWN HALL

This 1963 album is Pete Seeger at his best, seamlessly playing songs like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” between explanations and stories that hold a young audience’s attention. Moms and dads will especially like “Be Kind to Your Parents.”

LEAD BELLY SINGS FOR CHILDREN

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Huddie William Ledbetter was an American master who is often cited, along with Seeger and Guthrie, as a father of the folk revival of the 1950s and ’60s. This collection includes classics like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Skip to My Lou.”

ANIMAL FOLK SONGS FOR CHILDREN

Peggy Seeger, half sister to Pete and daughter of Ruth Crawford Seeger, calls this album “one of the best CDs for children that our family produced.” Its foot-stamping songs take wild things as their subject, ranging from gophers to bears to gators.

SONGS CHILDREN LOVE TO SING

Ella Jenkins, the “First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song,” created this album by choosing from among hundreds of recordings she’d made since the mid-1950s. Her arrangements will be familiar to anyone who’s ever sung at nursery school.

PETER, PAUL AND MOMMY

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Peter, Paul and Mary packed their sweet 1969 album with singalong songs for parents (the poignant “Day Is Done”) and children (“Going to the Zoo”) alike. You’ll find “Puff the Magic Dragon,” too, though you can debate its meaning later.

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