Best Kids' Music of the 1970s

Great Children's Music from Pop Stars and Children's Shows of the '70s

Kids' music really came into its own in the 1970s as a separate, distinct, and financially viable entity. During the decade of the '70s artists from Donovan to Anne Murray, children's shows like Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rock, and independent musicians such as Barry Louis Polisar and Raffi changed the face of kids' music as we know it. Here are some of our favorite kids' music albums of the 1970s, listed in chronological order.

Original Cast - The Sesame Street Book and Record

The Sesame Street Book and Record. Courtesy Columbia Records

You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the United States who wouldn't recognize the theme song to Sesame Street, or even songs like "Bein' Green" and "Rubber Duckie." The Sesame Street Book and Record contains these and a load more musical memory ticklers plus lots of amusing and cute dialogue, making the LP one of our favorite kids' music albums of the 1970s. What else can you say about an album like this than...classic.​

Released 1970

The Free Design - ...Sing for Very Important People

The Free Design - Sing for Very Important People. Courtesy Light in the Attic Records

Inspired by the release of Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter, Paul and Mommy, The Free Design produced a batch of new songs specifically for younger listeners, combined those tunes with a few the band had already released, and came up with their fifth album, Sing for Very Important People.

The Free Design's influence on indie pop is evidenced by the output of current bands like The High Llamas, Cornelius, Stereolab, and Belle and Sebastian, and Sing for Very Important People is a great example of The Free Design's musical strengths and aural appeal.

Released 1970

Donovan - HMS Donovan

Donovan - HMS Donovan. Courtesy Dawn Records

Donovan's pop tunes are some of the most recognizable on the radio, but lots of fans and listeners aren't as familiar with one of the most original and quirky albums ever released by a major artist.

HMS Donovan was recorded specifically for the younger crowd, a double album full of lyrics by major poets like Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and W.B. Yeats. Those words were set to Donovan's own music which had a definite Scottish and English folk music bent, resulting in an unforgettable combination of imagination, wistful tunes, fantasy, and sing-alongs.

Released 1971

Harry Nilsson - The Point! Soundtrack

Harry Nilsson - The Point Soundtrack. Courtesy RCA

The Point! began as an endearing and much beloved animated television special, and the accompanying soundtrack became another project in Nilsson's unique recording catalogue.

From afar, The Point! Soundtrack seems like a cute distraction for young music fans, but upon deeper listening, there's a lot more going on here, enough to entertain the entire family. For lovers of pure pop, for aficionados of imaginative narratives, and for those who admire timeless art, Harry Nilsson's The Point! Soundtrack is a must listen.

Released 1971

Johnny Cash - The Johnny Cash Children's Album

Johnny Cash - The Johnny Cash Children's Album. Image Courtesy Columbia Records

Anyone familiar with Johnny Cash's outer persona might find this record a little unusual. Cash eases up a little on The Johnny Cash Children's Album, as his collection of tunes for young listeners contains songs about questionable characters, familial love, beloved pets, tall tales, and sentimental remembrances.

The Johnny Cash Children's Album was released on Columbia Records in 1975 and, although it failed to make any of the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts, the LP is a must-have for fans of Johnny Cash or for kids' music listeners who welcome a deviation from the norm

Released 1975

Carole King - Really Rosie Soundtrack

Carole King - Really Rosie Soundtrack. Courtesy Ode / Epic / Legacy

What do you get when you combine the witty wordplay of a Caldecott-winning author and the music of a Grammy-winning composer? One of the best kids' music albums of all time, of course!

The Really Rosie Soundtrack was released almost forty years ago, but the words of Maurice Sendak and the tunes of Carole King have not lost any of their appeal. This musical and lyrical celebration of King's and Sendak's imaginative childhoods in Brooklyn will win over listeners from all around the world.

Released 1975

Barry Louis Polisar - I Eat Kids and Other Songs for Rebellious Children

Barry Louis Polisar - I Eat Kids and Other Songs for Rebellious Children. Courtesy Rainbow Morning Music Alternatives

Polished? No. Unfailingly in tune? No. Session musician-grade instrumentation? No. But Barry Louis Polisar and his acoustic guitar pack more power in their unadorned glory than most studio-produced music projects.

Polisar is irreverent, sarcastic, funny, and knows what kids like to hear. Above all, Barry Louis Polisar is an intelligent, opinionated guy who has the ability to get his message across via seemingly silly kids' tunes.

Released 1975

Anne Murray - There's a Hippo in My Tub

Anne Murray - There's a Hippo in My Tub. Courtesy Capitol Records

Anne Murray is probably best known in the United States for her 1970s hits "Snowbird" and "You Needed Me," but she had tons of singles and albums top the Canadian record charts. However, one of her albums, the children's record There's a Hippo in My Tub, failed to make a dent in any chart, only reaching Number 55 on the Canadian album chart in 1977.

Although somewhat obscure, it's a gem well worth digging up, showcasing Murray's expertise at country pop smoothness. If you're a fan of Murray's music or late-70s soft rock, you and your young listeners will certainly dig her venture into the children's music arena.

Released 1977