Artist: Emily Arrow
Album: Storytime Singalong Vol. 1
Age Range: 4 through 8
Description: While she isn't the first artist to make an kids' album based on children's literature -- and not even the hundredth to make a kids' album about reading -- the Los Angeles-based Arrow might be the first to blend the two relatively seamlessly. Most of the first half of the album are based on individual books, such as The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. The songs generally work even if you've never read the book. In fact, the songs based on the books above are, respectively, inspirational and gorgeous in a way that might remind the parental listeners of someone like Vanessa Carlton.
The second half of the album, while not entirely book-less, deals less with stories and more with the structures of stories. "One Day, The End Song," based on a book, talks about filling in the gap, story-wise, between "One day" and "The End." "Poem In Your Pocket Song" is a groovy song with lots of fill-in-the-blank singalong rhymes -- it's not the first time I've heard such a song structure, but it's probably the most ear-wormy one. Even "Peanut to My Butter," in its simple citing of common colloquial phrases, requires a certain bit of reading comprehension.
The 29-minute album floats by quickly and pleasantly even without a book in a kid's hands. (If you want listen to some of the songs and hear more book-based songs, check out Arrow's music page.) Just as simply playing Mozart for your baby won't make your child smarter, merely playing Storytime Singalong Vol. 1 won't make your child a reader. But as part of a broader culture that celebrates literacy -- in school, in the library, or at home -- the album will fit in quite nicely. Recommended.
Note: I was provided a copy of the album for possible review.