Tag: kids music

Sing the Bible: Family Christmas | Slugs & Bugs

Remember two weeks ago, when I told you we wouldn’t listen to Christmas music until the first day of Advent?

We made it until the day after Thanksgiving. Here is why:

Slugs and Bugs: Family Christmas CD | Little Book, Big Story

My very favorite Christmas album is A Charlie Brown Christmas. No matter how many times I hear it played in my home, your home, my parents’ home, Starbucks, and the department store, I still love everything about it. If anything brings back warm, fuzzy Christmas memories for me, it’s that album. If any Christmas song consistently makes me weepy, it’s Vince Guaraldi’s rendition of “What Child is This?” If any CD calms me down when I have more to do than time to do it in, it’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. I play that album more or less on repeat for all of Advent.

My second favorite Christmas album is A Slugs & Bugs Christmas. It’s funny and touching and quirky at once and gets the blend of humor and wonder and just right. The affection for this one in our home is corporate—we all love it equally and, unlike A Charlie Brown Christmas, no one person is making everyone else listen to it all the time against their will.

Slugs and Bugs: Family Christmas CD | Little Book, Big Story

The only thing better than those two albums would be one that somehow combined the cozy jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi with the clever energy of Slugs & Bugs. Seasoning the whole mix liberally with lyrics pulled straight from Scripture would take this hypothetical album from good to great.

That is exactly the album that Slugs & Bugs just released.

Slugs and Bugs: Family Christmas CD | Little Book, Big Story

Randall Goodgame is, it turns out, not just a stellar songwriter but also a stellar jazz pianist, and he anchors the whole album with piano pieces that elicit of the warmth and nostalgia of A Charlie Brown Christmas. But the songs are decidedly his, with songs ranging in tone from charming to beautiful. Within the first four songs, I had laughed helplessly once, cried twice, and said “I love this album so much” to Mitch more times than I can count.

“Mary’s Song,” sung by Goodgame’s daughter Livi, is stunning. “Joseph’s Dream” is wonderfully peppy (“I didn’t know he could sing that fast!” said Lydia from the backseat). The rest of the album is good, too, I’m sure, and I’ll have listened to it all before this post goes up*. But I knew within the first song that I wanted to share Sing the Bible: Family Christmas with you, and so here I am, having listened to only seven songs before writing a review.

I’ll send you off with a little foretaste of that first song:

May these songs fill your Advent with light and warmth and joy (and jazz).

Footnote

I have listened to the whole album now, many times. The entire thing (and especially the last song, but also many others) is a thing of beauty.


Sing the Bible: A Family Christmas
Slugs & Bugs; Randall Goodgame (2017)

Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible | A Kickstarter Campaign

What could be better than news that Slugs & Bugs is currently fundraising for the release of their third Sing the Bible album?

Reading that news while eating a donut would be nice. Reading that news while eating a donut and drinking a cup of coffee would be nice, too. But better than both of those is the news that Slugs & Bugs is fundraising for both Sing the Bible Vol. 3 and for a Vince Guaraldi-seasoned Sing the Bible Christmas album!

You can read more about the project (and watch a behind-the-scenes video) here, at The Rabbit Room. And you can support this worthy project here, on Kickstarter. Happy Valentine’s Day to us!

Slugs and Bugs (Giveaway!) | Sing the Bible, Vol. 2

Around New Year’s the ground on our side of the state was still muddy and gray, so we went to the mountains in search of snow. On the way there we sang merrily, knowing that our road ended at a cabin in the mountains full of good friends, a woodstove, and steaming mugs of hot cocoa. No matter how long the day or how red our cheeks from the cold, there would at least be good company and hot cocoa.

And sledding.

Sledding! | Little Book, Big Story

The road home was less magical: traffic slowed to a crawl for most of the journey (we were not the only ones snow-hunting that weekend), and the trip that took six hours going was a grueling nine-and-a-half hour ordeal coming home. What saved our sanity, in the end, was pineapple pizza, a ball of play foam, a roll of paper towels, and Slugs and Bugs.

We had given the girls Sing the Bible, Vol. 1 and Under Where? for Christmas, and while we savored them on our way to the cabin, we depended upon them on the way home. The antics of Randall Goodgame, Andrew Peterson, Sally Lloyd-Jones and others kept us laughing when little else seemed funny—when the snacks ran low, when the toddler got loud, when the continued presence of seatbelts began to oppress us all—and reminded us to rejoice in the Lord always.

Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible 2 (Giveaway!) | Little Book, Big Story

These albums have hardly left our CD player since that trip. I listen to them when I’m in the car alone, delighting in the stellar musicianship (that harmonica in “New Testament Song“!) and brilliant lyrics, and I make sure to queue up a favorite like “The Wagon Song” for the girls when I pick them up from school. Mitch and I can’t resist singing “I Wanna Help” to Phoebe when she thoughtfully dumps all the hardware on the floor for Mitch while he’s trying to assemble her toddler bed. These songs have already become part of the collective, musical culture of our family.

Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible 2 (Giveaway!) | Little Book, Big Story

But we’re ready for more. How timely, then, that Slugs and Bugs’ Sing the Bible, Vol. 2 released this month! This album has a different sound from Vol. 1, featuring as it does a gospel choir rather than the African Children’s Choir, but it still offers a glorious mix of songs that appeal to kids and to parents: my husband loves “The Ten Commandments”; my daughters love “Stars.” I can’t listen to “Raisins” without laughing so hard I cry or to “You Forgave Me” without crying because it’s so beautiful (or perhaps because I’m eight months pregnant, but I’m leaning toward “it’s so beautiful”).

Slugs and Bugs | Little Book, Big Story

Randall Goodgame and his posse clearly delight in what they do, and that delight is infectious. They pull jokes in from other albums and create completely new jokes for this album, while still treating Scripture as something living and active, to be handled with a sense of reverence and awe. I am most grateful for them in the moments when I hear our daughters (even the littlest one) singing Scripture to one another as they play.

But though I could go on at even greater length about how wonderful this new album is in the hope that you’ll go purchase a copy of your own, I get to do something a little different today: I get to give one copy of Slugs and Bugs Sing the Bible, Vol. 2 away to one of you instead! How lovely is that? Details on how to enter the giveaway are below.

Enter to win a free copy of Slugs and Bugs' new album, Sing the Bible 2! | Little Book, Big Story

How to Enter the Giveaway

Enter your info into the form below and complete as many of the possible options as you like: share, follow, or comment away! On March 17, a winner will be randomly chosen and notified by email (and if you aren’t notified promptly, please allow me a little extra grace: our baby is due that weekend). Best of luck to you!

 


Sing the Bible, Vol. 2
Slugs & Bugs (2016)

An Interview (and Giveaway) with Dana Dirksen of Songs for Saplings

I have gone on and on at length here about Dana Dirksen and Songs for Saplings, and now I’ve been given the opportunity to go on at length about her music somewhere else: today on the Deeply Rooted blog, you can read my interview with Dana and find out more about how Songs for Saplings began and what they’re doing now.

You can also enter to win a Songs for Saplings Family Journal, as well as one of six full sets of the Questions With Answers physical CDs! Even if you don’t win, Songs for Saplings has offered a special coupon code so you can download the first three albums in the series for free, just for reading the interview.

Questions With Answers, by Dana Dirksen: music and theology for families | Little Book, Big Story

Really, you have nothing to gain by sticking around here. Go read the interview.

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas

The first time we listened to A Slugs and Bugs Christmas, we were on our way to the pharmacy for flu vaccines. To give you an adult-to-child ratio, that was me to three small children, all destined to get shots in the next hour. We needed something light-hearted and peppy to boost morale.

The girls were immediately smitten with Slugs and Bugs—Randall Goodgame was speaking their language! I enjoyed the songs, I think, but was inwardly crafting my strategy for the pharmacy: three girls. Me. Narrow aisles; shelves of small things. Shots.

I don’t think I heard much of the album at all.

On our way home, though, I was in a state of elation: we’d done it! We survived! Nobody cried (much), not even me, though I felt like eating a whole pint of ice cream to celebrate and/or de-stress afterward. Instead, we did something better: we listened to “The Camel Song.”

And I fell head-over-heels for Slugs and Bugs.

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas | Little Book, Big Story

To tell you that “The Camel Song” was just the things for girls whose arms still smarted was one thing, but to tell you that it had me laughing out loud is another. The next morning, I kept listening to the albumwhen it was just Phoebe and me in the van and I could have listened to whatever I wanted. I reached “The Camel Song Conversation” at the end of the album and really lost it, laughing so hard my eyes watered while I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store, waiting for the song to end so I could get out of the car and behave like an adult.

What could be a better endorsement for a children’s album than that? I listened to it on my own, just because I wanted to. And it made me laugh.

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas | Little Book, Big Story

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas somehow hits all the markers for a good Christmas album for kidsthere are silly and nostalgic songs at the start, and the end of the album is full of beautifully arranged Christmas carols old and new. A six-year-old friend put it this way: “It’s funny, because there are Santa songs and then God songs and then some songs that are just silly!”

Randall Goodgame, Andrew Peterson and others made an album that is a joy to listen to (and to have stuck in your head throughout the day). But when I read about their vision for children’s music, I loved them even more:

We believe songs are one of God’s powerful tools for building strong relationships. When songs inspire laughter or deep spiritual thought, they can transform a routine car ride into a sweet family experience. Over time, that influence can profoundly impact the culture of the home. . . . Our small hope is that the joyful creativity of Slugs & Bugs music will delight your whole family.  Our grand hope is that Slugs & Bugs kids would find it natural to remember Jesus in their homework, in their friendships, and one day, in the parenting of our grandchildren.

That paragraph makes me glad that I have their other album Under Where? ready to tuck into someone’s stocking on Christmas Eve.


A Slugs and Bugs Christmas
Slugs and Bugs

The Ology | Marty Machowski

On one end of the children’s literature spectrum, we find what Charlotte Mason famously called “twaddle”: books with pat morals, flat characters, and no life. These are often books adapted from TV shows or toys, where the crisis involves fairies losing their sparkle or forgetting the secret of spring or something. They are the books we sneak back onto the shelves before leaving the library, the ones our kids enjoy for a while but ultimately forget. They don’t stick in the hearts and minds of our children because they assume that our kids need to be entertained by what they read, not shaped by it.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find The Ology. Marty Machowski is an already-beloved author in our home: his Gospel Story Bible has been a favorite among every one of every age here for years, and his family devotional Long Story Short (mentioned last week) gives us hope that one day we will study the Bible with our children. With The Ology, though, he’s departed from the tried-and-true forms of the story bible and the family devotional and written a systematic theology for children.

Yes, you read that right. The Ology is a systematic theology for children. It doesn’t get further from twaddle than that.

A systematic theology for children? Yes! Introducing The Ology, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

The Ology opens with an interesting premise: two children find an old book in a disused room of their church and discover that it was left there by “Jonathan E.” In a note accompanying the book, Jonathan E. writes,

Those who were helped [by the writings of the theologians] wanted to pass these truths on to their children. And so they wrote a book for children, entitled The Ology, so that they too might understand deep truths about God, drawn from the Bible. . . . But sadly, after many years, The Ology was forgotten. Parents and children began to think the truths of The Ology were old-fashioned and out of date. One by one these books vanished. The book you now hold may be the very last copy of The Ology in existence.

From there, we get to read the text of that last copy of The Ology in short chapters, each of which focuses on a specific doctrine. These are clear enough to read with preschoolers, but can be adapted to share with older children. I can see both Lydia (7) and Sarah (5) gleaning a lot from the readings, while Phoebe (just shy of 2) combs the illustrations for kitties.

A systematic theology for children? Yes! Introducing The Ology, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

Machowski is an author who clearly believes that children can and should have access to every part of Scripture. He believes they’re capable of understanding big concepts and so he doesn’t dilute truth for them, but lays it out in a methodical, accessible, interesting way. I am not pulling these beliefs from a parent’s note or introduction, though: it’s evident from the way he writes every page that Machowski respects his readers, no matter how small they are or how outlandish their questions.

A systematic theology for children? Yes! Introducing The Ology, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

The more we read of The Ology, the more deeply I love it. This is a book that strives to shape our children, to nourish them and help them grow in the rich soil of the gospel. It is not meant to entertain them (though it does), and its content will not be easily forgotten. Our daughters may not remember where they learned certain doctrine, but it will linger there, in their hearts, one of the means by which the Lord helped root and establish them in their faith.


Fun Fact!

Sovereign Grace Music has released an album to accompany this book. I have only listened closely to a few songs so far, but I loved this one (my daughters deemed it “too scary”):

If you have given the rest of the album a good listen, I’d love to hear what you think!


The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New
Marty Machowski, Andy McGuire (2015)

Questions With Answers | Songs for Saplings

This is not a review of a book. It is, instead, a review of some music written about a book—the book—and it is music that I think you and the little ones in your immediate vicinity would enjoy, so I am including it here, for your sake, for mine, and for the sake of those little ones.

Questions With Answers is a series of six albums by Dana Dirksen, who takes the Westminster Shorter Catechism and puts it to music. That means that while you run errands or cook dinner or take lengthy road trips, you and your children can memorize not only the catechism itself but various verses that relate to it (but will you ever be able to answer the catechism without singing? I don’t know. We certainly can’t).

Questions With Answers, by Dana Dirksen: music and theology for families | Little Book, Big Story

That is the good and wholesome answer to the question “Why should you listen to Questions with Answers?” But if you’d like an honest answer to why we have folded these into our family’s daily life and culture, here it is: they’re just really, really fun. You might be tempted to think—as I was—that six albums of any one musician could get old over time, but Dana Dirksen is a creative songwriter, and she pulls in just about every genre of music as she writes (just about: I haven’t heard hip hop in there yet, but then, we only have Volumes 1-4). And it doesn’t sound like she explores different genres because she’s trying to keep us listening: it just sounds like she’s having a great time. That joy produces the best music, I think.

These CDs have traveled with us halfway across the country and back. They have gone with us on the first day of kindergarten, down the Washington coast, over the Cascades, and across town. My daughter’s school used them as memorization tools last year; we have gifted them to missionary friends on the hunt for great preschool materials. We received them as a gift and love to give them to others.

That is the long answer to the question, “Why should you listen to Questions with Answers?” If you’re still on the fence, here is a short playlist of some of our favorite songs in the series:

 

And if you go to their website, Songs for Saplings, you can download all six albums for free! How compelling is that?


Questions With Answers, Volumes 1-6
Dana Dirksen, Songs for Saplings