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The best music for children from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s

LPs are practically museum pieces, and in a few years your tots might not even remember CDs. But we predict that these albums (these what?) will endure.

Ages 3 and under | Ages 4 to 9 | Ages 10 and up | More expert picks

Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma, Hush
(Sony, 1992)
Whether the track you choose is a Bach piece or one by McFerrin, this odd-couple collaboration between the jazz vocalist and the master cellist “captures the simple beauty of a lullaby,” Misty Tolle says.

Hayes Greenfield, Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz
(Baby Music Boom, 1998)
Christine Timm recommends this disc for budding musical sophisticates. “Jazz stimulates kids’ brains in unique and wonderful ways,” she says. “[Saxophonist] Greenfield makes jazz tasty for young kids with his very hip versions of tunes like 'Twinkle’ and 'The Muffin Man.'"

Lead Belly Sings for Children
(Smithsonian Folkways, 1999)
Probably no one who’s recorded for children has pandered less to them than Huddie Ledbetter, who laid down these tracks more than a half-century ago. Alongside work songs and traditional blues are intimate, refreshingly unadorned takes on “Skip to My Lou,” “Red Bird” and “The Blue Tailed Fly (Jimmie Crack Corn).” Hear his “Ha Ha This A-Way” and you won’t want to go that a-way with any other.

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World
(Apple-Eye Productions, 2007)
Morgan Taylor’s irresistible rock-pop CD/DVD has drawn plenty of raves, but it’s Gustafer, the singer-illustrator’s animated yellow alter ego, who’s the real star (he’s actually from a star, as he sings on “I’m from the Sun”). We’ve found little in kids’ music that’s as big a blast.

Putumayo Kids
Since 1999, Putumayo has introduced our children to exceptional music from far-flung corners, language barriers be damned. Elmo singing in Portuguese (on Sesame Street Playground?) gets little Yankee heads bobbing, while the “Dreamland” series starts them—hallelujah!—nodding off.

NEXT: Ages 4 to 9 >>

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Incredulous because we overlooked your faves? Don’t get mad; set us straight! Email kids@timeoutny.com with your new classic picks.

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