Top Ten Tuesday -Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Singable Picture Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the book lovers over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of X Genre, and seeing as I’m a children’s librarian I’m going to share a few of my favourite singable picture books! These books are always on my story time shelf, and they’re some of my go-to books for pretty much any story time.

Singing has been shown to support the development of early literacy skills in young children:

Singing breaks up words into syllables, slowing down the sounds that words make and allowing your child to understand how to pronounce words they might not even know the meaning of. For instance, “Lon-don bridge is fall-ing down, fall-ing down, fall-ing down,” splits up the words into smaller, slower pieces, allowing your child to really understand how to mimic those sounds. Before children can learn to read, they need to be able to identify the different sounds that words make, and singing is a great way to introduce this, even if you’re off-key! 🙂 Herrick District Library

My story times are very high energy – I love getting kids moving, interacting, participating and having fun in my programs, and singable picture books are great way to get kids engaged in a story. They’re also a lot of fun!

So, in no particular order,


 I Love My White Shoes


You cannot go wrong with this jazzy story about a positive cat who doesn’t seem to pay much attention to where he’s going… I absolutely love jamming with Pete as he introduces children to basic colours.

The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort


Kids loving singing The Wheels on the Bus (over and over and over…) and kids love making animal noises. Put them both together and you’ve got a fun new take on a beloved children’s song.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More


I love this book SO MUCH. The tune is ridiculously catchy, the protagonist is a cheeky little performance artist, and there’s a funny little line that will have adults in the audience cracking up. I LOVE singing this one with a bit of a country drawl for added effect (and extra ridiculousness).

Old Mikamba Had a Farm


I love being able to shake up a classic and  give it a fresh spin, and this African retelling of Old MacDonald Had a Farm does just that!  Old Mikamba has quite the exciting farm, filled with new and wonderful animals to explore and imitate.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs


Besides having a really fun tune, Five Green and Speckled Frogs can be shared as a finger play, a felt story and a picture book – learn it once, share it in multiple ways to engage different learners in different ways.

There was a Tree


Rachel Isadora is back with another beautiful take on a classic children’s song. This time in the prettiest little tree that you ever did see is actually beautiful acacia tree growing in a beautiful African setting.

If You’re Happy and You Know It


Jane Cabrera is a master of the illustrated nursery rhyme, and pretty much any of her books is guaranteed story time gold, but this animal-themed take on If You’re Happy and You Know It is one of my favourites. Kids can roar like a lion, squeak like a little mouse, and have lots of fun expressing their happiness in all sorts of active ways.

If You’re a Monster and You Know It

If You're a Monster and You Know It...

This spin on the traditional children’s song is so much fun! Kids roar, stomp, wiggle and more. If you’ve got a particularly wiggly group of kidlits, this delightfully silly story is the perfect way to harness that energy in a fun and interactuve way.Rebecca Emberley is the daughter of Ed Emberley, the creator of the beloved children’s classic, Go Away Big Green Monster.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons


Like I Love My White ShoesFour Groovy Buttons is perfect for people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable singing in front of others, including nervous or reluctant caregivers. Most of the text can simply be read aloud, with only the insanely catchy refrain sung or chanted. It’s a great gateway book that can ease storytellers into singing with their audiences, as well as a fun introduction to the concept of subtraction.

Sing, sing, sing!


Family Story Time – March 27, 2015

So, after the brief interlude that was spring break, we’re back to massive story times again. We ended up having to turn almost 20 people away from our story time because we were just too full. Thank goodness for my voice amplifier, I don’t think I’d be able to continually make myself heard over the crowd, week after week.

I tried out a new-to-me story this week, Two Little Monkeys by Mem Fox, and the kids seamed to enjoy it. I might suggest that it’s a good choice for early on in the program, when the kids are at their most attentive and least wiggly. I don’t think this would have flown quite as well later in the program, as there aren’t as many opportunities for audience participation. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty using Pete the Cat in story times, it feels like a bit of a librarian cop out, but when you have a large group of wiggly toddlers and preschoolers, the simple story, catchy, repetitive refrain and opportunities for participation really come in handy. We had a lot of excited counters in the audience today, and they loved helping me with each POP!

I also had some requests from the gallery today. I wasn’t planning on doing The Wheels on the Bus, but several of the kids asked for it, and I was happy to oblige. Sometimes it’s better to just go with the flow! We also added dinosaurs to our repertoire of animals who wake up in the morning, thanks to an enthusiastic audience request, which was a lot of fun!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Two Little Monkeys / Mem Fox


Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons / Eric Litwin


Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • The wheels on the bus
  • The elevator song

Soothing songs:

  • Mm-ahh went the little green frog (with puppet!)
  • Orca whale

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I’m also embracing puppets, slowly but surely. I’ve been introducing a different puppet friend and related song each week (I’ll start repeating them soon, we don’t have a huge puppet collection at the branch), and it’s been a lot of fun! I don’t think I’m brave enough for felt stories yet though…..!

Preschool visit and story time – March 19, 2015

One of the things I love so much about being a children’s librarian is the variety that comes with the position – no two days are ever quite the same! We get to do so much outreach in our positions, and I for one am pretty passionate about getting out into the community, meeting our neighbors and being involved in what’s going on around us.

Today I had the opportunity to visit a local preschool and participate in their circle time. It was a bit of a last-minute arrangement, and due to scheduling constraints I didn’t have my usual thirty minute story time allowance, so I had to be a little creative with my program. As I’ve said before, that’s one of the things I love about doing on-call or drop-in story times – they’re perfect opportunities to spread my wings a little, branch out and try new things!

We had a small group – only 16 kids, but they were so engaged in the stories and so excited to participate.

Here’s what I did with the lovely little preschoolers I met on this super soggy spring day:

Book 1: Little Owl Lost / Chris Haughton


Song: Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons /  James Dean, Eric Litwin


Songs: I wake up my hands

The itsy bitsy spider

Book 3: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur /  Janeen Brian & Ann James


And just for fun: Here I am sitting in the neighborhood house with my books, waiting to make my grand entrance into the preschool –  a little bedraggled from the terrible rain, but ready to get this story time started!


Family Story Time – November 7, 2014

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Down on the Farm / Merrily Kutner


Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly
  • Mm-ah went the little green frog one day

Book 2: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons


Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle little star
  • Head and shoulders
  • Tick tock tick tock
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!


Down on the Farm is such a fun book! I adore rhythmic texts that I can turn into jazz chants, and this one has a great, simple refrain that is repeated on every page – “down on the farm, down on the farm.” The book is a little long for my squirrely little ones, even with lots of animal noises thrown in for good measure, so I skipped a few pages (a trick I learned as I was a student is to fasten pages together with paper clips to adapt books for different audiences), but no one seemed to mind.

Just a side note – “roof” and “woof” don’t rhyme well unless you have an American accent….

Holy smokes we had a big crowd today, this biggest I’ve ever had at this branch. It was a bit zany, to say the least!!