November 16, 1990 at 05:00 AM EST

The sing-along videos your kids will love

Two things that you can count on to rivet kids’ attention, practically from day one, are songs and TV. The sing-along videotape puts the two together in one neat 5-by-8 (or so) package. The best of this musical breed are truly magical: They seem instantly to double a child’s attention span (is it a scientific fact that sights + sounds = holding power x 2?), they won’t drive adults nuts after 10,000 replays, and, maybe best of all, they will give you and your kids a song repertoire you can share even when there’s no VCR in sight. Some of the best sing-along videos:

Raffi in Concert With the Rise and Shine Band
(1988, A&M Video, 50 minutes; Ages 2 to 6)
This tape was like a dream come true for my 3-year-old daughter, who goes to sleep every night to one of Raffi’s terrific audio tapes: Now she could actually see her idol in action. The Canadian singer/songwriter and his backup band perform a assics (”Everything Grows,” ”Tingalayo”) and soon-to-be classics (”Baby Beluga,” ”Shake My Sillies Out”) for a rapt concert hall audience. His singing style is as straightforward as the stage sets (there are no fancy props or snazzy special effects), but children obviously don’t need hype to respond-just good music. A

Wee Sing in Sillyville
(1989, Price Stern Sloan, 60 minutes; Ages 2 to 8)
Unlike most sing-along tapes, this one has a story line: Two kids are magically transported to Sillyville, a coloring-book world come to life, to help its feuding inhabitants become friends again. (The green-garbed Jingleheimers won’t talk to the red-costumed Bitty Booties, who won’t visit Pasha since she wears purple.) Each color-coded clan sings a few silly songs (along the lines of ”John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” and ”There Were Five | in a Bed”) that don’t advance the plot but are lots of fun. The Halloween-like costumes, fast pace, word play, and nonsense rhymes (”Irried my wife in the month of June, I carried her off in a silver spoon”) made it an instant favorite of a 5-year-old reviewer, although younger ones were a bit lost: ”What did they say, Mommy?” asked my 3-year-old after one particularly tongue-twisting song. A-

Even More Baby Songs
(1989, Hi-Tops Video, 32 minutes; Ages 1 to 4)
The original tunes and lyrics on this tape are simple but beguiling. They focus on things that are important to small children, as in the boppy ”I Can Put My Clothes on By Myself.” The visuals that bring the voice-over songs to life are charming, too. Reassuringly normal parent and kid types (as opposed to actor types) do familiar stuff (mom takes snapshots of dad and baby) in around-the-house settings. But overall the songs are not as catchy as those on this tape’s predecessors — the terrific Baby Songs and More Baby Songs. B

My Sesame Street Home Video: Sing Along
(1987, Random House Home Video, 30 minutes; Ages 2 to 6)
For little kids, familiarity often breeds contentment, and what toddler isn’t steeped in Sesame Street lore? This tape features the gang (Big Bird, Oscar, Bert, Ernie) gathered around a piano with a few humans (large and small) belting out lots of familiar, but not terribly innovative, tunes, including ”Rubber Duckie” and ”Sing.” B

Disney’s Sing-Along Songs: The Bare Necessities
(1987, Walt Disney Home Video, 27 minutes; Ages 2 to 6)
This is the fourth in a series of six (so far) sing-along tapes from Disney, all of which start out with one enormous advantage: an archive of children’s classics to choose from. But the sheer diversity of the material also makes for something of a mish-mash: We’re bounced from animation (The Jungle Book) to live-action clips (Old Yeller) and back again. Older children may also be frustrated by the lack of continuity. Five-year-old Michelle protested, ”Where’s the rest of the story?” after one truncated clip from Dumbo. B-

You May Like