Most people only think of nursery rhymes when they think of children’s songs. So, it might seem tough to find love songs that are both appropriate and interesting to children.
However, scores of musicians have written songs for kids centered on one of the most universal themes: love. Here are the ten best children’s songs about love and friendship, and everything in between.
“And Oh I Love You So” – Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton’s books are popular with kids as young as infants and as old as Pre-K. She wrote The Going to Bed Book, Pajama Time!, Barnyard Dance, and Snuggle Puppy. Even if Sandra Boynton is not on your family’s shelves, you will recognize her books from the fluffy, cuddly animals that grace the covers.
Boynton also produces compilation CDs of kids’ music, oftentimes featuring famous performers or singers. Actors Raul Esparza and Madeleine Lodge performed “And Oh I Love You So.” It is an upbeat, sweet song, with a beautiful message of unconditional love.
“All of You” by Lin – Manuel Miranda
“All of You” from the Encanto soundtrack is a beautiful “I love you” song for kids that will get the whole family singing. The finale track from Encanto features all the members of the Madrigal family reconciling with each other and themselves after decades of dysfunction. Mirabel sings that everyone, no matter what their contributions are to the family, is worthy of love.
Encanto dominated television screens after being released in 2021. The movie was particularly resonant for immigrant families, who understood the internal pressures facing the Madrigals.
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Randy Newman
One of the best songs about friendship for kids, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is familiar to fans of Toy Story. At the heart of the Pixar movie is a tale of two unlikely friends coming together. It makes sense that the theme song captures the simple love of sincere, child-like friendship.
The singer-songwriter behind this great song is Randy Newman, an American musician who grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. Newman was a solo pianist-singer for mostly adult audiences before he began composing for children’s movies.
“Magic Penny” – Malvina Reynolds
“Magic Penny” by Malvina Reynolds is a popular children’s folk song released on the 1975 album Held Over. Reynolds was a socialist organizer from California. Most of her songs are political, and you can hear Reynold’s core beliefs in equity and abundance in “Magic Penny.”
When it comes to “I love you” kid song lyrics, “Magic Penny” teaches that love is not a finite resource. That the more you give, the more you will feel and have. Similar to a “magic penny,” you have less the less you spend. This song is simple and an ideal option for long car rides.
“All Will Be Dancing” – Ella Jenkins
Ella Jenkins was a prolific children’s musician, informed by the folk and African American spiritual music communities in her city of Chicago. The Smithsonian Institution included Jenkins and her work in their Folkways Recording catalog, which preserves the work of the best and most influential folk musicians.
“All Will Be Dancing” has gentle lyrics, where the singer invites her friends to join her at her birthday party. The song is a kind and sweet melody about friendship, with a comforting guitar perfect for lulling any child to sleep.
“The Cheese Song” – Anonymous
People know “The Cheese Song” as a camp song to sing around the fire. Yet, very little information is available about the origins of “The Cheese Song.”
“The Cheese Song” suggests that cheese makes the world go round because it makes mice go round, which makes cats go round. Its lyrics eventually remind the listener that because cheese makes love go round, it also makes the world go round!
“Rainbow Connection” – Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns
“Rainbow Connection” first appeared on The Muppet Show. Creator Jim Hensen conceived the show and often performed many of the lovable characters.
One of the most serene children’s songs about love, this track features Kermit the Frog playing the banjo and singing wistfully about a time in the future when love abounds as magical as a rainbow’s spell. The lyrics display a sweet warmth and tenderness toward the world.
“Nighty Noodles” – Bill Harley
Bill Harley is a Grammy award-winning children’s musician who creates concept albums for kids to sing along to. “Nighty Noodles” comes from his album titled The Town Around the Bend, which is full of night-time stories and lullabies.
“Nighty Noodles” is a different kind of lullaby; full of horn instruments and an upbeat, invigorating style. This song is from the perspective of a parent singing their child to sleep. They share how much they love their child as they tell them goodnight.
“I’ll Sing You a Love Song” – Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger was a world-famous folk musician. Deeply influenced by progressive political movements in the early 20th Century in the United States, Seeger wrote music for adults and children.
“I’ll Sing You a Love Song” features Seeger’s trademark banjo plucking. It’s a gentle love song just as much for children and their families as it is for the sky and the trees. With a distinct blues feel, it is easy to sing and hard to forget.
“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
One of the more famous songs on this list, jazz maestro Louis Armstrong first performed “What a Wonderful World” in 1967. It’s a sweet love song not only between people but for the whole world. Contrary to popular belief, Armstrong did not compose the track. Bob Thiele and George David Weiss wrote the song, though they did write it for Armstrong’s voice.
“What a Wonderful World” is a great song for children about love because it captures the simplicity of child-like wonder. Several artists have covered the iconic record, including Aloe Blacc, making it one of the best r&b songs about love for a child.
Communicating your love for your children is so important, as they need to feel supported, loved, and cherished to grow into healthy adults. These children’s songs about love communicate nurturing emotions while also being fun to listen to! Play them for the whole family and sing along.
Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.