British Columbia Kodály Society of Canada

Kodály Resources

Kodály Resources

Songs as Storybooks


Adams, Pam. This Old Man. Purton Wilts, England: Child’s Play Ltd., 1974. Size and illustrations are very appropriate for early years children. Song not included.

Bogart, Jo Ellen & Barbara Reid (illus). Gifts. Toronto: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1994. While not based on a folk song, this tuneful story with its AMAZING plasticine illustrations by artist Barbara Reid is a wonderful addition to any collection of storybooks. The story traces the relationship of a grandmother and granddaughter through the years. There is also a tape available for purchase from Scholastic. While the tape is a tad ‘cheesy’, the students enjoy the synthesized accompaniment with the children singing on the tape. A lively addition to any collection. Song not included.

Brandenburg, Aliki. Hush Little Baby. Englewood Cliffs, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968. Works very well. Interesting illustrations. Song included.

Carter, David A. If You’re Happy and You Know It. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1997. The bright and cheery appearance of this pop-up book makes it a favourite of all students. Song included.

Christella, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree. New York: Clarion Books, 1991. Students enjoy the humour in this presentation of the traditional chant. We use this choral speaking opportunity to tell the story with great drama and expression in our voices. Rhythm not included.

De Paola, Tomie. The Friendly Beasts.(an old English Christmas carol) New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981. Works well. Composition of the illustration explained. Song included.

Duke, Kate. Tingalayo.New York: Crown, 1993. My grade one students love to sing this song. Best use is in the early years and early primary years. Song included.

Hill, Eric. Nursery Rhymes Peek-a-Book. London, England: Puffin Books, 1982. The large print and use of primary colours in the illustrations makes this a useful collection of rhymes for use with early years students. They can read along with you and enjoy discovering what is under the flap.

Hale, Sarah Josepha & Tomie dePaola (illus.). Mary Had a Little Lamb. New York: Holiday House, 1984. This famous 19th Century rhyme, with all its 7 verses, is illustrated by Tomie dePaola in usual attractive fashion. The history of the rhyme and its author given. Song included.

Halpern, Shari. What Shall We Do When We All Go Out? New York: North-South Books, 1995. The large size of the book and the use of collages of different types of paper painted with acrylics and watercolours, and colour photocopies of pieces of fabric, catch the eye of the early years student. The repetitive melody has the children singing along in no time. Song included.

Harrison, Ted. O Canada. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1992. A work of art! Each region of Canada is profiled, in text and art, in this bilingual presentation of our national anthem. I use this book every autumn to review the musical singing of ‘O Canada’, in English and French. Then, each of the school choirs record a performance of the anthem for use during opening exercises. Piano accompaniment (in Eb) included.

Hays, Michael. (text by Pete Seeger) Abiyoyo. New York: Aladdin Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1994. Based on an African-American folk story. Pete Seeger also tells and sings this story on the CD "Abiyoyo and Other Story Songs for Children", Smithsonian/Folkways SF 45001. Seeger is very credible and tells the story in a charming manner. Song included.

Jeffers, Susan. Silent Night. USA: Dutton Children’s Books, 1984. Charming illustrations accompany the retelling of the classic hymn telling the story of the Nativity. The large size of the book is a plus. Song included.


Keats, Ezra Jack. Over in the Meadow. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1971. Wonderful illustrations. Works very well. Song not included.

Kovalski, Maryann. Jingle Bells. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd., 1998. This is a reissue under the ‘First Flight’ reading series umbrella. The original text has been altered for young readers and, although sometimes plodding for classroom use, is a wonderful addition to any seasonal collection. The smallish size of the book can also be a concern, but my students enjoy the antics of Grandma and her two granddaughters. (These charming characters are also featured in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "The Wheels on the Bus") Song not included.

Kovalski, Maryann. Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Toronto: Scholastic Canada Inc., 1992. A very Canadian take on an old favourite. Grandma and her two granddaughters attend a baseball game and root for the home team, which looks an awful lot like the Blue Jays! A favourite, especially with young Blue Jays fans. Song included.

Kovalski, Maryann. The Wheels on the Bus.Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1987. A charming presentation of the traditional song featuring Grandma and her granddaughters on a shopping spree. A favourite of the early years and early primary students. Song included in the middle of the book.

Langstaff, John & Nancy Winslow Parker (illlus.). Oh, A-Hunting We Will Go. New York: Aladdin Books, 1991. Charming and humorous illustrations and clever additional verses make this one of the oft-requested books of primary and early junior classes. Students also enjoy making up their own verses and creating the illustrations. Song included.

McCrae, John (poem), Linda Granfield (history) & Janet Wilson (illus.). In Flanders Fields. Toronto: Stoddart Kids, 1996. I use this wonderful resource in preparation for Remembrance Day. This historical information is excellent and the paintings are very moving. I use it in conjunction with Alexander Tilley’s melody of the poem. The performance I prefer is with the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario. (We often sing this song during our school Remembrance Day observance.) I do not use this book with any primary class and prepare my junior classes before we use it. The students are often very moved by the experience, by the illustrations, text and the music.

McCue, Lisa. Jingle Bell Mice. USA.: Troll Communications L.L.C., 1997. The illustrations of animals cavorting in the snow bring smiles to the faces of the children, especially the younger ones, who enjoy the humour of a squirrel pulling mice in a sleigh. Song included.

Muller, Robin & Suzanne Duranceau (illus.). Hickory, Dickory, Dock. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1992. Very clever adaptation of the traditional chant. Great for reinforcing 6/8 time.

Muller, Robin. Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Toronto: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1993. A clever adaptation of a camp-fire mainstay. The story is delightfully silly and the illustrations match the text! A favourite for all ages to enjoy - with a surprise ending! Song not included.

Peek, Merle. Mary Wore Her Red Dress. New York: Clarion Books, 1985. One of the absolute mainstays of my collection. Song included. A ‘must have’.

Rayner, Shoo. Hey Diddle Diddle and other Mother Goose Rhymes. London, England: Puffin Books, 1995. A bright and fun lift-the-flap book useful for reinforcing traditional rhymes with early years students.

Reid, Barbara. Two by Two. Toronto: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1992. Reid’s amazing plasticine pictures add a great deal to the retelling of the biblical story of Noah and the ark. The familiar call and response melody adds to the fun. In some school settings, the presentation of the book will need to be carefully set up. I think that a tape is available for purchase from Scholastic. Song included.

Rosen, Michael & Helen Oxenbury (illus.). We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. London, England: Walker Books Ltd., 1989. This presentation of the summer camp tale provides a wonderful opportunity for voice exploration. Late primary and all junior students enjoy this adventure.

Slavin, Bill. The Cat Came Back. Toronto: Kids Can Press Ltd., 1992. Song included. The all-time favourite of my junior classes. Song included. A ‘must have’. Older students will enjoy the National Film Board of Canada’s satirical, and award-winning animated ‘short’ of this song. (Use at your discretion.)

Spier, Peter. London Bridge is Falling Down. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967. Very clever illustrations. Works very well. A detailed history of this bridge is included. Song included.

Spier, Peter. The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1961. Wonderful illustrations. Works well. The children enjoy this song. Song included.

Sweet, Melissa. Fiddle-I-Fee. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1992. Colourful illustrations. Best for use in primary classes. Song included. (Notation is somewhat ‘straight’. I tend to liven it up a bit.)

Theobalds, Prue. The Teddy Bears’ Picnic. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Ltd., 1987. Charming for use in early years and early primary classes. Song not included.

Trapani, Iza. The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Boston: Whispering Coyote Press, 1993.Charming and humorous presentation of a favourite song with additional verses added. Song included.

Trapani, Iza. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Boston: Whispering Coyote Press, 1994. Verses are added to this traditional song to tell the story of a little girl who goes on a journey through space with a special star. Lovely illustrations. Song included.

Tyrrell, Frances. The Huron Carol. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1990. Breathtaking illustrations beautifully complement this important Canadian story. A ‘must-have’ for any school or personal collection. Includes a history of the song. Song included.

Tyrrell, Frances. Woodland Christmas. Richmond Hill, Ontario: North Winds Press, 1995. This retelling of the classic "The Twelve Days of Christmas"features the creatures of the northern woodlands in each of the twelve days. Tyrrell’s watercolours are truly exquisite and leave my students spellbound. This treasure is a wonderful gift for adults and children! Song included.

Westcott, Nadine Bernard. I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1980. Works well. Clever illustrations. The junior children especially enjoy the humour. Song included.

Whatley, Bruce. The Teddy Bears’ Picnic. USA: Harper Collins Pub., 1996. Light and entertaining performance of this song, arranged and performed by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. Banjo and guitar are featured, with other ‘Dixieland’ sounding accompaniment. Tape included.

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