The Year In Music For Kids (And Parents) One of the best years for kids' music in recent memory includes releases from artists with feet firmly in both kid-friendly and adult-oriented worlds. Old favorites went in new directions, while emerging artists gave a glimpse of the future of a genre as diverse and unpredictable as kids themselves.

Hear Kathy O'Connell Discuss Her Top Pick

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(Soundbite of song "I Don't Care")


One of the reasons writing music for children is not easy is that ideally it has to appeal to parents, who'll have to listen to it over and over again. The best kids' music does that.

TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA: (Singing) Saturday and it's raining. I can't go outside and play. I can't find a friend to talk to. But I know just what to say. I don't care. I got books to take me flying...

MONTAGNE: As we continue our weeklong listen to some of the best recordings of 2008, Kathy O'Connell, host of Kids' Corner on member station WXPN, tips us off to her favorite children's record.

KATHY O'CONNELL: My favorite CD of the year is by my favorite band, which is Trout Fishing in America. "Big Round World" is the name of it, and it sums up everything that I love, because it's got a real variety of song themes and different beats, different approaches, and it works for what I think are actually now the three key audiences for kids' music. You've got, obviously, the kids; you've got the adults, who are most of the time a captive audience, listening to kids' music; but you've also got to throw something in there for educators.

(Soundbite of song "Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks")

TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA: (Singing) Martin Luther King was a great man. Started as a child with great big dreams. He found words to change people's lives So we could live together and we could be friends.

O'CONNELL: Trout Fishing in America is Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet, and they expanded their collaboration this year. They do a whole lot of songwriting workshops all over the country. And when kids are your collaborators, you're going to get some subjects in there that have an educational slant to them, because it's an in-school atmosphere. This specific song I'm thinking of is a song called "Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks."

TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA: (Singing) Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks Tried to bring us all together with their big, big hearts.

O'CONNELL: You've got the approach of today's kids for whom Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, frankly, are just names in history. And they've managed to connect those two great names in history to something that today's kids can relate to.

TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA: (Singing) So, what can you do to make it better? Hey, what can you do to make their dreams come true? It may look like a mountain that can't be moved, But you never know what a little push might do.

O'CONNELL: There's also a really great rock number called "There's a Rumor Going 'Round," about how gossip can grow, how a rumor can spread, and delivering it in this rocking way that teaches a lesson while you're enjoying listening to it, and that's, I think, the best of education.

(Soundbite of song "There's a Rumor Going 'Round")

TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA: (Singing) Well, it started out little, and it wasn't so bad. Then it got bigger every time it got said. The story grew teeth with big sharp claws, Turned into a monster running up and down the hall. Feelings got hurt, and that's a fact. When a rumor gets loose, it can bite you in the back.

O'CONNELL: To me Grimwood and Idlet are the Lennon and McCartney of kids' music. That being said, what I love about this CD is the real mix of musical styles, but they continue to put the harmonies and sometimes the just plain, stupid humor that makes Trout Fishing in America such a great band for kids, and for grownups as well.

MONTAGNE: To hear Kathy O'Connell's full list of the Best Kids' CDs of 2008, plus 25 other best-of-2008 lists in a variety of genres, go to

(Soundbite of song "There's a Rumor Going 'Round")

TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA: (Singing) Turned into a monster running up and down the halls. Feelings got hurt, and that's a fact. When a rumor gets loose, it can bite you in the back.

There's a rumor going 'round. There's a rumor going 'round. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no, no. There's a rumor going 'round, and you know it's a fact. There's a rumor going 'round...

MONTAGNE: This is Morning Edition from NPR News.

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