Monday, June 2, 2014

Picture Books We Love :: Favorite Folk Songs, Part One

My children started piano lessons this past year and have been playing simple folk tunes from their music books.  Hearing those melodies reminded me of the wonderful folk-song-turned-picture-books that I used to read day after day to my two oldest when they were small but had completely forgotten with my current littles.  Considering how much my kids love sing-along books, I decided to remedy this right away and grabbed a bunch of our old favorites from the library and our own picture book collection--and I thought I'd share them with you too.  Here's the first batch:

John Langstaff is a folk song legend.  He collaborated with Caldecott-winning Russian illustrator Feodor Rojanovsky on two titles that we particularly enjoy: Frog Went a-Courtin' and Over in the Meadow.

And Anita Lobel provided fittingly charming drawings for Langstaff's version of Soldier, Soldier, Won't You Marry Me?

I usually don't prefer cartoonish selections, but Ed Emberley has a winner with his quirky London Bridge is Falling Down.

It's hard to go wrong pairing Normal Rockwell prints with one of our favorite patriotic tunes. George M. Cohan and Norman Rockwell's You're a Grand Old Flag is in constant rotation at our home.

Robert Quackenbush's Pop! Goes the Weasel and Yankee Doodle is actually a recent discovery for me.  My youngers love the colorful but simple illustrations and my olders are enchanted with the historical background provided on each page.  Plus: two songs in one!

Carol Jones' Old McDonald Had a Farm and This Old Man remind me of the Ahlbergs' work, with the peek-a-boo cutouts on each page and the detailed drawings.  Perfect books for reading to little ones.

I have two favorites for "The Farmer in the Dell": Ilse Plume's (bottom) and Alexandra Wallner's (top).  Usually I'm pretty opinionated when it comes to picture books and have no trouble deciding which version I like best, but both of these are just so good.

More coming soon!  (Do you have any favorites to share?  I'd love to know!)

(Edited to add: You can read Part 2 here!)


  1. That looks like a nice collection of books! I know we've checked many of these out of the library over the years, but I haven't done so recently.

    Do you read them or sing them when you look at these with your kids? I will never forget sitting with one of my kids and singing it to him, only to have him respond, "no, mommy, I asked you to read me a book, not sing it to me!" I tried to explain that the book had the lyrics to a song, but he was not mollified. Perhaps I should try again with my current toddler!

    1. Haha! We usually sing them, and that is definitely part of their appeal. ;) Actually, my husband really enjoys reading/singing these to the kids, so they usually sit on "Daddy's shelf," which is a little area full of books Daddy likes to read aloud and which the toddlers pull from and bring to him. And they are also a favorite for my big kids to read to my youngers--since my 5yo knows all the songs, she's able to sing these to the little ones, which makes her feel very grown up. :)