Music. I look for music that all of us can enjoy. I highly recommend all of the following:
1. John Lithgow, Singin' in the Bathtub
2. Maria Muldaur, Swingin' in the Rain
3. Sandra Boynton, Philadelphia Chickens
4. Sandra Boynton, Dog Train
5. Laurie Berkner.
John Lithgow was a particular surprise. He has started a second (or third?) career making children's music. Singin' in the Bathtub is a collection of covers and adaptations of songs from the 30's and 40's mostly. He sounds so classy. Big Mischief's favorite is The Codfish Ball and I like the Hippopotamus Song with its refrain of "Mud, mud, glorious mud/Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood/So follow me, follow/Down to the hollow/And there let us wallow in glorious mud." The inset for this CD says that these songs are meant for family sing-alongs.
Maria Muldaur is best known for Midnight at the Oasis. She has a couple CD's of music for children. Mostly she sings jazz or blue. Big Mischief particularly likes Three Little Fishes and If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake.
John Lithgow's site is here.
The Sandra Boynton's CD's are done as faux musicals. Philadelphia Chickens is arranged as if it were the soundtrack to a major Broadway musical. Dog Train is styled like a rock musical. To my ear the songs on these CD's scream middle school talent show material. Sandra Boynton is adept at creating and producing music that celebrates childhood without at the same time being saccharine, insipid, or condescending. Her website is here.
Laurie Berkner shows up on one of the Nickelodeon channels on Cable. She seems to be better known for this reason. She also likes making intelligent and witty children's music.
That is hardly the extent of the Mischiefs' exposure to music. We listen to different things in the car. Paul Simon, Republica, REM, blues, old blues especially. My hope is that by exposure to variety and encouraging them to develop their own taste and preferences they won't have the patience to listen to a lot of the mindless twaddle that passes for music: it will be too boring.
I fully admit that I am deficient with respect to classical music. I don't know much about it. I don't dislike most of it. But there's so much that I like so much more. I recently came into something called Beethoven's Wig. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.
Big Mischief figures more prominently in a discussion of music because she is articulate enough to make her preferences known. Little Mischief seems willing enough to listen and dance to whatever is playing.