20 Greatest Albums Ever to Share With Your Kid

Albums by The Beatles, Talking Heads, Prince, and Paul Simon are among our favorites.
Angela Zimmerman Manager, Editorial Partnerships Categories: We Recommend
Manager, Editorial Partnerships

Does your kid think One Direction's newest pop offering "Best Song Ever" is really the best song ever? While plenty of current kids' music is great to listen to with your kids, and even adult bands are making cool music for kids, there comes a time when young teens want something more. Why not introduce them to some of the albums you grew up listening to?

Sharing your music with your kids (and listening to theirs) is more than a bonding experience. It also lets you talk about the history, culture, and sensibilities of the time that the music was recorded.

These 20 classics from early Beatles through the dawning days of Nirvana can bridge the generation gap. Some of these albums have mature lyrical content or serious political commentary. And some are just plain fun. Always check the "Explore, discuss, enjoy" section of each album review for ideas on how this music can spark conversations with your kids.

  • A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles, released 1964
    The brilliance of the Beatles' entire catalog is uncontested, and this early record has served as many kids' intro to the Fab Four.
  • Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released 1967
    Hendrix's incendiary guitar playing and legendary charisma have captivated millions of music lovers over the years.
  • American Beauty, Grateful Dead, released 1970
    This enduring folk-rock collection is a wonderful introduction to the music of the Dead.
  • Sticky Fingers, Rolling Stones, released 1971
    This decadent rock record has been a teen favorite for decades -- and the fully-functioning zipper on the original vinyl cover is a fun feature, too.
  • Who's Next?The Who, released 1971
    Kids can learn to air guitar to one of rock 'n' roll's finest bands in their heyday.
  • Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin, released 1971
    From blistering hard rock to melancholic ballads, this album proves why Zeppelin is considered one of the best bands of all time.
  • Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd, released 1973
    This ambitious, best-selling concept album has been on heavy rotation for teens around the world since its release.
  • Innervisions, Stevie Wonder, released 1973
    Kids (and parents) will love to sing and dance to this universally lauded soul album.
  • Ramones, Ramones, released 1976
    Breakneck tempos and rock 'n' roll hooks make these pioneers of punk ever popular with kids.
  • This Year's Model, Elvis Costello, released 1978
    Clever wordplay and Costello's sneering vocals make this punk classic still sound vital -- and cool. 
  • London Calling, The Clash, released 1980
    This album is a testament to The Clash's powerful political leanings, and kids will love the snappy songs and riotous punk energy.
  • Beauty and the Beat, The Go-Go's, released 1981
    This all-female new-wave group remains an empowering representation of girl power for music fans young and old.
  • Greatest Hits, Queen, released 1981
    "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" are just two of Queen's sing-along anthems kids will love.
  • Legend, Bob Marley, released 1984
    This best-of reggae compilation captures Marley's most popular and accessible songs.
  • Music from the Motion Picture Purple Rain, Prince, released 1984
    The Purple One's fusion of funk, R&B, and synth-rock still sounds compelling, inventive, and timeless.
  • Little CreaturesTalking Heads, released 1985
    David Byrne and crew's signature wackiness on this pop-punk masterpiece is an immediate hit with kids.
  • Graceland, Paul Simon, released 1986
    Listeners around the world have been charmed by Simon's inspired collaboration with South African, zydeco, and Latin musicians.
  • The Immaculate Collection, Madonna, released 1990
    Kids have been in love with The Material Girl's pop perfection since she first hit the music scene in the early '80s.
  • Nevermind, Nirvana, released 1991
    Nirvana may have defined the grunge era, but Kurt Cobain's potent lyrics will resonate with teens for generations.
  • The Essential Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan, released 2000
    This rich, career-spanning collection is a perfect introduction to Dylan's songwriting genius and the turbulent times he chronicled. 

Music has always pushed the envelope. Do you think it's OK to let kids listen to songs that express mature thoughts and concepts? Tell us below.

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About Angela Zimmerman

As manager of editorial partnerships, Angela is responsible for packaging and distributing articles and reviews to Common Sense's many content partners, helping people far and wide access advice and information around... Read more

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Comments (6)

Parent written by AnthonyFantano

Good list. But it could really use some better music. I'd recommend 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea' by 'Neutral Milk Hotel' for Jewish families interested in religious music. I also recommend the bands Chvrches, Crystal Castles, and Grimes for young male teenagers who have trouble finding a girlfriend. Tell me what you guys think! Anthony Fantano. Recommendations. Forever.
Parent written by Kbarchitect

Albums I recommend Frank Zappa "the grand wazoo", Talking Heads "Remain in Light", Pink Floyd "Wish you were here", Loscil "Sketches from new Brighton", Steve Tibbetts "Yr", Brian Eno "Here come the warm jets"
Teen, 14 years old written by brandonneo6425

You forgot the albums "Slippery When Wet"(1986) by Bon Jovi and "Appetite for Destruction"(1987) by Guns N' Roses! AFD is the best album ever!At least you listed a Queen album.Sorry for nitpicking!
Teen, 15 years old written by kuzronk

To add on what moestavern said track 3 titled "Nighttrain" is a tribute to a cheap wine called "Night Train Express" which had high alcohol content.
Parent of a 13 and 19 year old written by moestavern

"Appetite" may be one of the greatest albums of all time, but that doesn't change the fact that lyrics are not entirely kid friendly. Take a listen to "Out Ta Get Me" and "You're Crazy" and you'll probably want to change your thoughts as to whether it belongs on THIS list.