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Christmas Music for Kids

Deck the Halls with These Holiday Tunes!

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Looking for great Christmas music for kids? There are literally hundreds of Christmas-related CDs and albums out there, so I've narrowed the list to holiday collections that feature "back-to-basics" renditions of wintry fireside classics, plus a couple of "essential listening" soundtracks. Take a look:

The Vince Guaraldi Trio - 'A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack'

Courtesy Fantasy Records

The classic soundtrack from the classic holiday television program. More a Christmas mood piece than a collection of carols, this 1965 soundtrack includes the timeless "Linus and Lucy," the introspective "Christmas Time is Here," and Guaraldi's unique take on "The Christmas Song," "Greensleeves," and "My Little Drum" (or, "The Little Drummer Boy").

Released 1965, Fantasy Records

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Raffi - 'Raffi's Christmas Album'

Courtesy Rounder Records

Originally released in 1983, this CD features Raffi's warm, everyman voice crooning a collection of familiar holiday songs, along with harder-to-find tunes like Roger Miller's "Old Toy Trains," Arnold Sundgaard & Alec Wilder's "Douglas Mountain," and Tex Logan's "Christmas Time's A-Coming." Also included are several Raffi originals like "Every Little Wish," "A Child's Gift of Love," and "On Christmas Morning."

Released 1983, Shoreline

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Mitch Miller and the Gang - 'Holiday Sing Along with Mitch'

Courtesy Sony

Miller's 1961 album is one of the best for learning carols. Kids (and families) will enjoy the enthusiastic, clearly-enunciated singing, and pretty much every great Christmas song is here!

Released 1961, Columbia Records

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Various Artists - 'A Holly Jolly Kids Christmas'

Courtesy Hip-O Records/Universal Music Enterprises

Similar to Christmas Classics (see below), but with an emphasis on newer tunes. Overlapping songs include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Burl Ives here, Bing Crosby on Classics), "Frosty the Snowman" (Jimmy Durante here, Gene Autry on Classics), and "Jingle Bells" (Ella Fitzgerald here, Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters on Classics). Both include Spike Jones' "All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)." Includes Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock," The Jackson 5's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," The Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late," and Raul Malo's "Marshmallow World," most famously heard on Phil Spector's 1963 masterpiece A Christmas Gift for You.

Released 2007, Hip-O Records

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The Chipmunks - 'Christmas with the Chipmunks'

Courtesy Capitol Records

Crank up the Chipmunks and let Christmas begin! Ross Bagdasarian and his Chipmunks gleefully sing their way through 20 Christmas classics, adding their own brand of humor along the way. Tunes include "Deck the Halls," "Silver Bells," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," and, of course, "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)."

Released 1962, Capitol Records

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Various Artists - 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas Soundtrack'

Courtesy MGM Records

Another great Christmas soundtrack, but for a different reason: Boris Karloff narrates the entire Dr. Seuss-authored story, and it may just be possible that it's more fun to listen to Karloff's reading than to watch the animated classic. The album features the music of Albert Hague and includes the unforgettable "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," sung by Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of Tony the Tiger!), as well as two tunes sung by the townspeople of Whoville, "Welcome Christmas" and "Trim Up the Tree."

Released 1966, Leo the Lion Records/MGM

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Fisher-Price - 'The First Noel: Christmas Carol Lullabies'

Courtesy Fisher-Price

Quiet, tender versions of 13 Christmas classics, featuring the vocals of Tara MacLean. Tunes are kept simple by using the very basic of musical accompaniment, including piano, acoustic guitar, and acoustic bass. Equally great for sing-alongs or naptimes.

Released 2005, Fisher-Price

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Various Artists - 'Children's Christmas Classics'

Courtesy Lifestyles Music

Similar to A Holly Jolly Kids Christmas, but with an emphasis on older classics. Overlapping songs include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Bing Crosby here, Burl Ives on Holly Jolly), "Frosty the Snowman" (Gene Autry here, Jimmy Durante on Holly Jolly), and "Jingle Bells" (a particularly swingin' version by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters here, Ella Fitzgerald on Holly Jolly). Both include Spike Jones' "All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)." Here you also get Nat "King" Cole's "The Christmas Song," Crosby & Fitzgerald's "Silver Bells," and Crosby & The Andrews Sisters' "Twelve Days of Christmas."

Released 2001, Lifestyles

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John Denver & The Muppets - 'A Christmas Together Soundtrack'

Courtesy RCA Records

The soundtrack that accompanied the 1979 television special. Make sure you find the 13-track version (available as an mp3 download on iTunes and Amazon) that includes "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem's version of "Little Saint Nick," and the introspective "When the River Meets the Sea," a song originally written by Paul Williams for the 1977 HBO special Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.

Released 1979, RCA Records

Various Artists - 'Elf Soundtrack'

Courtesy New Line Records

You just have to include the soundtrack to what will prove to be a modern holiday film classic. Director John Favreau's song selection makes this CD one of the most fun Christmas collections around, even if it does include non-holiday tunes like Louis Prima's "Pennies from Heaven" and Billy Preston's "Nothing from Nothing." But you do get awesome songs like Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone's "Baby It's Cold Outside," Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby," and two songs from Leon Redbone's 1987 album Christmas Island, "Winter Wonderland" and "Christmas Island."

Released 2003, New Line Records

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Susie Tallman - 'A Child's Christmas: Holiday Songs & Carols'

Courtesy Rock Me Baby Records

More E Street Band than community choir, Tallman's collection features a sort of Memphis R&R-meets-rockabilly sound. The CD contains a staggering 42 tracks, including songs, jokes, Merry Christmas greetings in several languages, and holiday stories. You get particularly rockin' versions of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "We Need a Little Christmas," a Billy Preston-like "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen," and a great Celtic-flavored version of "I Saw Three Ships." The album contains lots of familiar holiday hits, but also contains harder-to-find songs like Christina Rossetti's 19th-Century tunes "Love Came Down at Christmas" and "In the Bleak Midwinter."

Released 2008, Rock Me Baby Records

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