Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Picture books Based on Traditional Songs Day 18 of 30: Exploring the Free Resources

Nursery rhymes and folk songs come to life with traditional or new lyrics and a wide variety of illustrations. These are especially good for adults who aren't comfortable singing, as the tunes will be familiar. Also great for introducing ESL students to our folk songs and nursery rhymes. and when new words are put to familiar tunes, as is the case in so many of these, it taps in to the way we all learn best; by teaching new information to something familiar.

There are an infinite number of published titles!

Take, for example, The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. There must be fifty different illustrated versions of this song! Each version has a whole new set of words, and vocabulary explodes with each new story . We know the number of words a child knows when entering kindergarten is a leading indicator of success in reading. Illustrations define the words and they are accumulated and repeated with each new verse. Since children know the tune, they jump right in and sing- there is no teaching.

Because there are so many versions of these traditional songs, you can seek out topics that interest your child, In the picture above, you;ll see a version of the song, Baa, Baa, Black Sheep now Car, Car, Truck, Jeep. These books are always children's favorites; I think they think someone has personalized them just for them!

In a classroom situation, these books work magic on a restless group. As I visit preschools I always have a few tucked into my bag for a wiggly day emergency- and  they ALWAYS work!

The only tricky thing about these books is they can be difficult to find. Go to and look at the lists and suggestions. Ask your children's librarians to recommend their favorites. If you find one you love but it's out of print, go to It's an aggregate site, so it lists used and new books from all over the United States, Great Britain, and other places. I have been able to find every title I have looked for by checking frequently. New old books come up all the time, and used library books are constantly being weeded. 

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