Tag: kids music (page 2 of 2)

A Slugs & 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

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!


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

Songs For Saplings: Questions With Answers

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 16
Dana Dirksen, Songs for Saplings