- Rebecca Purdy
I like to sing. I don’t do it terribly well, but I don’t let that stop me! Especially, when it comes to books that are songs. They are fun to share with preschoolers who love to hear them. Even if you read them instead, they will enjoy the rhythm of the words. Here are some favorites.
When his mother catches him painting the floor, ceiling, walls, curtains and doors, the young man swears, “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!” in this book by Karen Beaumont. But his creativity cannot be contained so he picks a new surface—himself! David Catrow’s illustrations perfectly capture the child’s creative joy. Sung to the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More!” this book is great, giggle-inducing fun!
“Fiddle-I-Fee: A Farmyard Song for the Very Young” is illustrated by Melissa Sweet. A young boy journeys around the farm, feeding the various animals. Fun sounds are added with each encounter. The “Goose went swishy-swashy, Duck went quack, quack, Hen went chipsy-chopsy, Cat went fiddle-i-fee.” Before there were the Wiggles there was Raffi. The singer, songwriter and author has a series entitled “Songs to Read.” His hits “Down by the Bay,” “Five Little Ducks” and “Baby Beluga” are vibrantly colored and ready to sing.
“Little White Duck,” illustrated by Joan Paley, is a perfect read aloud. Boldly colored animals are set against a beautiful blue pond. The song itself celebrates animals happily doing what they do. The duck takes a bite off the lily pad, the frog jumps off and the snake frightens everyone. “Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!”
The classic “Down by the Station” has been brought to life by Will Hillenbrand. Starting with the original lyrics, new ones are added as the train stops for a variety of animal families. “Down by the elephants early in the morning. See the little calf waiting to go.” The elephant calf comes aboard and the train is off for the flamingo chick, the tiger cub and others until it reaches its destination, a fun day at the zoo!
Children love repetition and they’ll get plenty in “There’s a Hole in the Bucket” illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. This very silly song is humorously illustrated. Henry executes every bit of his wife Liza’s instructions a little too literally; like attempting to cut straw one piece at a time with an ax. The animals follow Henry’s trials while his wife becomes increasingly annoyed. The song ends as it begins. After being told, to wet the dry stone with water from a bucket, Henry reminds Liza, “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza. A Hole.”
Kadir Nelson’s realistic paintings are wonderfully paired with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” A young boy’s everyday experiences are expanded by the lyrics. Looking at the night sky with his father, “He’s got the moon and the stars in His hands” and a trip to the beach? “He’s got the oceans and the seas in His hands.”
I can’t resist one book for elementary school students who can easily be convinced to sing to you instead! “Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs” by Alan Katz and illustrated by David Catrow takes familiar tunes and puts a new spin on them. The title song is sung to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and lyrics include “I used one, two, three bars of soap Take me out…I’m clean!” Another that’s sure to be a favorite is “Stinky Stinky Diaper Change” sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I’ll spare you the grisly details, but assure you your child won’t!