Archive for April, 2016

Sonia de Los Santos Debuts Chocolate Video

Friday, April 29th, 2016


Chocolate Spread_1 copy

Parents’ Choice: Sonia, what is Children’s Day in Mexico?

Sonia de Los Santos: In Mexico, children look forward every year to April 30th for their very own celebration we call Children’s Day. On this day, families unite to celebrate with many events and festivities that remind us all the importance of childhood and the joy they bring to our lives. It’s a day when kids get toys and treats, and of course, lots of chocolate!


Parents’ Choice: Where does the Chocolate song come from?

Sonia de Los Santos: The song is based on a Mexican Traditional Rhyme about making chocolate. There are many different versions -and probably each mom sings it slightly differently – but for some reason this is the way I sing it! I included this song in my album because it reminds me of the time when I used to make hot chocolate with my mom to warm us up on cold winter days… I remember helping her stir a big clay pot full of chocolate with a “molinillo”, a traditional wooden stick-  and drinking it with “pan dulce” (sweet bread).

Parents’ Choice: Why did you make a video for Chocolate?

In the last few months after Mi Viaje came out, I’ve been getting videos from parents where their kids are singing along to this song: in the car, in the kitchen and just a cappella doing their chores! There seem to be a calling for it and I thought it would be fun to share a video with them that they could singalong to … it’s my Children’s Day present for children everywhere! ¡Feliz Día del Niño!

Parents’ Choice: Thank you for debuting your Chocolate video with Parents’ Choice!

Sonia de Los Santos: You’re welcome! I couldn’t imagine a more delicious place to do so.


7 Games You Shouldn’t Keep in Your Closet

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Keep them on your table top, ready to be played.


Move & Groove™

Ages: 1+ (ThinkFun Inc.) $19.99

Players roll the plush cube, match the given color to a corresponding card, and then carry out the cards instructions. With moves such as, “hop like a kangaroo” and “play the air guitar”, lots of silly fun will be had.

frankie_food_truckFrankie’s Food Truck Fiasco Game

Ages: 4+ (Educational Insights)  $21.99

In this delicious matching game, players race to be the first to deliver a 5-course meal. Using an adorable kitty shaped “squeezer” kids pick and choose ingredients to fulfill the food truck orders.




Ages: 5+ (Marbles: The Brain Store) $29.99

Players take turns removing pieces from this Jenga-style tower. The player with the least fallen pieces at the end wins.




Creature Clash! Card Game creature_clash_card_game
Ages: 6+ (Chronicle Books) $14.99

This strategy game challenges players to create crazy creatures from a triptych of cards. Each card has a point value, so the player who creates the creature with the highest points, wins the game.






Ages: 6+ (Fat Brain Toys) $15.95

Players work to score points by using tiles to spell numbers. The goal is to spell out numbers one through ten, and the first player to 21 points wins the game. But watch out, players with tiles that spell “Woo” can take the win.





Ages: 8+ (Twizmo Games) $17.95

Think Checkers but with the spirit of Chess, you won’t be that far off.

Tak-tak is easy to learn and simple to play. It’s a game that mostly requires out-thinking your opponent.




Lost CitiesLost Cities: The Board Game

Ages: 10+ (Thames & Kosmos) $39.95

Players work to guide their team of explorers on a quest to find the locations of five lost cities. Drawing cards to advance their teams across the board, points are given to the teams who make it the farthest. The player with the most points at the end wins the game.







The Rise of Gen Z Stars

Monday, April 18th, 2016

gen-z-blogRemember the old TV show Star Search? Host Ed McMahon (and Arsenio Hall in a later revamped version) showcased young talented kids who hoped to win recording contracts. Among the child performers who went on to fame are Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Cristina Aguilera. Steve Harvey is doing something similar in his kids talent show, Little Big Shot.

But the most fertile ground for finding new stars these days is, of course, the Internet. Kids are not only rising to fame in a new way, they’re cashing in.

Disney-owned Maker Studios has launched a new program called Maker Studios Spark, designed to produce original content from kid creators found on all major social media platforms – YouTube, Vine, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. And Maker is funding more than 100 projects, reports Variety.

Spark’s first new series is called Intro To … It’s an unscripted comedy featuring Lola Holderness and her brother Penn. The Holderness family operates a vlogging channel that has more than 172,000 subscribers. The kids portray candidates Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. The parents, both of whom worked on local TV in Florida and now own their digital video business, are in on the act, too. A funny Christmas jammie family video went viral in 2014 and now they’re big stars.

Separately, YouTube has been funding its own original programming, available initially on the YouTube Red subscription service. Maker is one of YouTube’s partners in the effort: It co-produced the “Scare PewDiePie” series, starring Swedish comedian Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie), one of YouTube’s biggest stars, with 40 million subscribers. Verizon’s Go90 mobile-video service also has made moves to sign digital talent to contracts.

It’s a lucrative and booming business.

More and more children are finding stardom on YouTube channels or other social media platforms, and it’s setting them up with nice college bank accounts. (Let’s hope that’s what they’re doing with the money.) According to, 1 million views can translate into $3,000 to $6,000.

By the early teen years, kids are learning to brand themselves into cross-platform, hashtag-bearing stars, leading to even bigger paychecks, including $10,000 to $20,000 per sponsored Instagram post and YouTube video.

A #BrandofMe study conducted by Canada’s Centennial College’s kidsmediacentre found that that an average of 200 young people sign with agents every day to be influencers.

With all of this social media fame comes the downside — pressure to perform and gain followers, cyber trolls and bullying and exploitive companies.

If your child wants to be a star, you need to be with them every step of the online way. Don’t just look over their shoulder; be there with every keystroke and posting made online. Parents who might be lured by the success need to police the privacy, as well as the self-esteem, of any budding child star.





Ready for a new playlist? We’ve got you covered!

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Musical Round Composition

The Spring 2016 Parents’ Choice Audio Awards are here!

We’ve got audio books where there’s this Thing About Jellyfish, a house where Robots Go Wild, and a clandestine summer camp where some kids have more Bad Luck than good. Storytelling takes listeners from Ancient Egypt to the California Gold Rush and from World War II to Andy’s Wild Amphibian Show. The children’s music category is filled with treasures. Here, listeners can begin exploring the world on a sidewalk stroll, take a ride on the Mitzvah Bus or travel with Sonia de Los Santos from Nuevo León, Mexico, to New York and points in between. Listeners who know they can be anything also believe in the little things. There are bugs to know, seeds to sow , and as Lynne Heffley writes, “Raffi, the original children’s music superstar, has never been better.”

There you have it.



7 Questions For … Raffi

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

RaffiIn the first of our series “7 Questions For … ” — a Parents’ Choice Award winning children’s musician — we begin, most fittingly, with children’s music pioneer and legend, Raffi.


Parents’ Choice:  What inspired you to make children’s music?

Raffi: While married to a compassionate kindergarten teacher, I came to understand that young children are whole people, worthy of respect. I learned that singable songs can offer both wonderful learning for kids and a valuable social experience. That inspired me to make children’s music that is playful, accessible, and respectful of young children—an important audience.

PC: How is writing a song for children different than writing for adults?

Raffi: Young children’s life experience is small, so you write to what appeals to young minds. Animals, sounds, humor, and rhymes are elements that are fun when served with a playful tone. Appealing to kids’ unlimited imagination is always smart.

PC: What’s the most important thing to remember when writing a song for kids?

Raffi: Respect.

PC: What sparked your interest in becoming a musician?

Raffi: First it was my father’s songs and accordion playing while I was a young boy. In my teens, it was singing in an Armenian church choir. Then I got my first guitar and started learning folk songs and singing with friends. I was hooked.

PC:  What was the first instrument you played?

Raffi: Guitar. When I first tried to sing and play at the same time, it felt almost impossible. And gradually what seemed impossible became doable, much to my relief and joy.

PC: You’ve been recording songs for children since the 1970s. What is different now in your approach to children’s music?

Raffi: My music keeps evolving along with how I record. On my recent album, Owl Singalong, for the first time I played a ukulele in shaping a number of the songs. And these days I do the bulk of the recording at home, in my living room. It’s good to find a fresh approach to writing and recording music for kids.

PC: What do children tell you about your songs?

Raffi: Back in the 1980s, when my music was on audiocassettes, a child came up to me and asked, “Raffi: how did you get out of my tape?”  And after one concert, when I walked onstage to do an encore, a young voice called out, “Why is he coming back?”

Read Lynne Heffley’s review of Owl Singalong, Raffi’s latest Parents’ Choice® Gold Award winning CD.