I've been putting together mix tapes for different Early Childhood occasions: naptime, playtime, and (coming soon) dance time.
I believe that we can all listen to the same music. Kids are not born wired to listen to Old McDonald Had a Farm, and I have not met an adult who listens to any version of that song on their own. Children and adults can listen to music together and enjoy it - neither party needs to suffer!
That said, there is great music out there that is technically for kids, but adults can actually enjoy. Read on for a few suggestions.
I grew up in a household where Original Cast Recordings from Broadway shows were always playing in the car and in the house. So, I think I have a soft spot for the sound that John Lithgow tackles on his first album. Its funny, its upbeat, and it is for kids. And, underwear songs are great.
In college, I worked at Books of Wonder, an independent children's bookstore in Manhattan. This CD was displayed on the counter, played on the stereo, and made its way into my student teaching placements. Dan Zanes and a cast of wonderful musicians play "kid songs" without making you want to rip your hair out, and he peppers his albums with interesting songs and sounds, from hip-hop to original compositions.
Lullatone is a prolific group, recording albums with interesting instruments and sounds in Japan. Their work is all instrumental, which I prefer as background music. The music is playful and bright; it makes you feel like you're in a movie. Try taking a walk while listening to it on headphones - its cinematic.
Woody Guthrie recorded this album in 1958. All of his songwriting is storytelling, but he has an extra special ability to write from a child's point of view. I've sang some of these songs with preschoolers, and danced around to even more of them!
I have to include Free To Be...You and Me in this list because it was my absolute favorite as a kid. So I am partial, but the skits are absolutely timeless. And I sang the title song in my bedroom. A lot.