A recent gathering of the library’s storytime presenters made one thing apparent--oldies really are goodies! When staff shared our preschool participant’s favorite songs and interactive activities, I was struck by how many of them revolved around beloved classics. Games I played as a child--and bet you did too--like “Simon Says” and “Red Light, Green Light” are regularly incorporated much to the delight of children and their caregivers!
Nursery rhymes, the most time-honored tradition in children’s literature, are also tremendously popular. Nina Crews’ photographs of children in her neighborhood, accompany a variety of songs and rhymes in her book, “The Neighborhood Sing-Along.” The title offers an enjoyable mix of old traditional songs, slightly more recent classics and newer tunes and like “La Bamba.” A great benefit of a book like this, is that it will remind you of long forgotten favorites that your young ones are sure to enjoy!
The classic song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is always boisterous fun, but our presenters provide an element of surprise by mixing it up a little. “If You’re a Monster and You Know It” by Rebecca Emberley and her Caldecott Award winning father, Ed, includes the strikingly colored illustrations you expect from this father/daughter team. Children will love pretending to be monsters while snorting and growling, smacking their claws and stomping their paws. A “Jungle edition” of the song, comes from another author/illustrator with famous connections, James Warhola nephew of Andy Warhol. This rip-roaring version begins with children in a typical suburban setting--a jungle-themed playground--when suddenly, something magical happens and the animals come to life, transporting them to an exciting place. The lyrics are enhanced with new actions-- flapping wings, scratching fur and the beating of chests. A final rendition that deserves mention is “If You’re Hoppy” by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic which is also designed for guessing game entertainment throughout. The illustration accompanying the line, “if you’re growly and you know it, you’re a dog” includes a humorous illustration of a growling dog and a growling frog with the word “OR” followed by ellipses. Readers should pause a moment and allow time for the children to guess what else would growl. There’s no wrong answer, but the book suggests a bear and a tummy!
Annie Kubler’s illustrated board books of traditional songs are very popular in our Mother Goose Times for infants through 2 year olds. Her most frequently mentioned title was “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in which babies are shown joyfully partnering with each other while making rowing actions. The illustrations begin to incorporate stuffed animals and Kubler spices up the rhyme, “If you see a lion, Don’t forget to roar!” This one was declared a huge hit by presenters from every branch!
Do you remember the playground song “Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree?” Author Eileen Christelow has turned it into a delightful picture book that children love to hear. While reading, count the monkeys on every page and turn your hand into a crocodile, playfully snapping at little fingers. Don’t worry, the monkeys in the book don’t meet the permanently grim fate of those in the song; it turns out they have been hiding in the tree the entire time!
Originally published in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.