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Children's music doesn't have to be terrible, you know

The absolute best present I've received since I was about 12? Yeah, these speakers.

Why? Well, it's sort of obvious, but, to be clear, I can now listen to music WHILE I'M PLAYING/WORKING OUTSIDE IN THE BACKYARD. It's more than a little bit awesome. Yes, it's a pretty big pain to get the speaker wire outside (in fact, I actually bought a whole new receiver and built a space for it in the woodshed to make everything work right, but you're probably more handy than me), but it's well worth it.

The key, of course, is that you've got to pick music that will appeal both to the kids and the adults. These aren't your headphones. These are speakers that broadcast your music to the neighborhood. Do you want to put the Wiggles on? No. Your ears will start to bleed after roughly 15 seconds. Do you want to put Led Zeppelin on? No. The same thing might happen to the children. We're talking happy medium here, people.

So, my suggestions? Glad you asked.

First, you can start with the classics. And, yes, I do mean the Beatles. Always a solid choice as long as you don't put on anything after Revolver (that's when things get a little wonky for the kids).

But maybe you want something a little more contemporary. There are a bunch of bands that are putting out good music you can sing along with, but that the kids will love to death.

Hopefully you've already heard of the Laurie Berkner Band. That "Rocketship Run" song is ridiculously good. Catchy hook. Terrific chorus. Even a little counting backwards, which can't hurt. She also does the music for Jack's Big Music Show, which is one of the better shows for kids on TV (which isn't saying much).

I'm also a pretty big fan of the Flannery Brothers, who are local to us here in Maine, and whom my daughter loves. She particularly likes the "Hi 5 Dance," but says just about the whole disc is good because they sing about real stuff she can relate to.

You'd be surprised, too, how well the Schoolhouse Rock stuff stands up over time. Way catchy, and, of course, informative. Do you know what a conjunction's function is?

While we're going old school, I've also got to put in plugs for Free to Be You and Me and Really Rosie. Shockingly, some people don't know about either of these. Created by Marlo Thomas and Carol King, respectively, they are great, empowering, soundtracks to cool movies. You need to hear them and play them for your kids if you haven't already.

Even older school? Have you heard Peter, Paul, and Mommy? "Puff the Magic Dragon" is a little wonky, sure, but kids love it and it's pretty hard not to sing along without a smile on your face.

I could go on for a long time, but that's a start. What are you guys listening to? Leave us some great suggestions on the Facebook page.

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