I was recently asked if I knew of any books for children that encouraged mindfulness and empathy. I was able to make some suggestions but only wish I’d thought to add music to the list! Earlier this year I reviewed Big Bully, part of the Recess Music Best Foot Forward Series. Now it’s time to show a little empathy through music with Someone Else’s Shoes.
Someone Else’s Shoes is a compilation of fifteen songs by different artists aimed at highlighting empathy. It has been described as a musical course in manners, but it is far more up-to-date and relevant than any etiquette lesson.
The album opens with the polished Swingset Mamas singing Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes. It’s a tight, feel-good song that sets the tone beautifully for the rest of the album.
The songs span themes of hurt feelings, self-esteem and celebrating differences between people. There are some stand-outs – Cliff Tetle delivers Everyone Can See A Different Me in a style inspired by late-night piano bars – it’s genius and a style of music I have not heard on a children’s album before (not withstanding the Muppets performing similar soliloquies).
I also love What a Difference by Cosima. It’s a simple song celebrating the obvious differences between people – “My friend likes cats and I like dogs, Oh what a difference…” The message is two-fold and clear – people can be very different and still be friends, and respect others’ choices. It’s particularly relevant for kids when they are going through a phase of choosing things that make them part of the crowd.
The songs that will have your kids singing are Team Work by The Uncle Brothers and Say Something Nice About Someone by The Happy Crowd – both have catchy clapping rhythms and choruses that you’ll find yourself quickly humming along to. I recommend breaking out Team Work when there’s housework to be done!
For an absolute show-stopper, the last song on the album takes the cake. Feel the World Dancing by Jim Papoulis has the tone of eighties power-ballards (think Do They Know it’s Christmas and Feed the World) with a delightful message about co-operation and differences between people.
As with the other Recess Music albums, Someone Else’s Shoes is not necessarily an album you would sit down and listen to from beginning to end. Instead, pick a couple of songs and add them to your children’s playlists – a nice way to inject some ‘social responsibility’ into the mix.
Someone Else’s Shoes is available online directly from Recess Music for US$12.99. For books about mindfulness, see our previous posts on Take the Time, An Awesome Book of Thanks! and the Zen Shorts series.