October 8, 2012

Sing Me a Story (More Quick Ideas for Getting Started with Signing)

If you've seen me read any of my books, you know I like to sing them to kids, not just read them. Many of my signing stories came to me as songs that grew into stories. It's nearly impossible for me to  just read them!

When I'm invited for guest appearances at conferences and book signings, I'm often asked, "What tune were you singing to when you read us that story?" This post is for those of you who are wondering just that! Beware, some of the tunes are loose fits...you have to be creative and embellish as you read and sing. Here goes:

Series One:

The Best Day in Room A:  The Twelve Days of Christmas. This one works best if you skip the rhythm/pattern change that typically happens in the fifth verse in this song. 

The Big Blue Bowl:  This was originally written to fit to the tune of "The Green Grass Grows All Around," but that tie-in was lost as the story changed during the editorial process. I find that this one works best when I simply read it--but I like to add to the fun by inviting participants to chant along with the "fill it up, fill it up, fill it up" refrain, which kids REALLY get into.

Famous Fenton Has a Farm:  This one fits nicely to "Old MacDonald." Invite participants to chant, "Yee Ha Hee Ha Ho!" with you (instead of the more traditional E-I-E-I-O) and they will have a grand time!

The Nest Where I Like to Rest:  This story fits the structure of "The House That Jack Built," so it does not go with any particular song that I know of.  I invite children to "sniff" like the rat, "honk" with the goose, and say "Hey!" with the boy when I read this one. I also wear my silly chicken hat when I read this story. 

See the Colors:  This one fits beautifully to "Oh My Darlin, Clementine." I CANNOT just read this story. I wrote and revised the verses for this one while my own kids were still small enough to hold in my arms. I have very fond memories of sitting with my then preschool-aged daughter while holding my then infant son, singing various "under construction" verses of this story for nightly tuck-ins.  This book still holds a very special place in my heart. Here is a clip of me singing this story.   

Silly Sue:  This one fits nicely to the tune of "Skip to My Lu." I embellish some of the words when I read it to get into the song (i.e. I tend to chant, "And I say...." right before I read the pages such as "Slide, slide, slide Silly Sue....").  I also invite the kids to chant along and sign "Silly" with the refrain, "That Silly Sue." This one is really fun to sing and sign. Try it! 

Watch Me Go:  This one fits with the tune, "She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain."  I invite kids to echo "Watch me Go!" "Don't you know?" and "Here I go!" for extra fun!  I sang this story at my very first book launch event. One of my favorite memories is of my local library's meeting room full of loving friends and supporters, singing and signing along with me.  

Wear a Silly Hat:  This story originally fit loosely to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" but the text of the story doesn't include the full level of repetition of that song.  I usually read the first line of each page, then I sing the remaining lines to the "Happy and You Know It" tune.  I use hats for props to add to the fun. I love using hats to dress up my stories!

Series Two:

A to Z Sign With Me: I had the tune of the Alphabet Song (aka: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) in my head when I wrote this book. It fits loosely...very loosely. Also, you have to repeat the melody as you proceed through the story, because the story is longer than the song. I find that I don't usually sing this story because I like to read it with a pace that enables me to really emphasize each featured alphabet word. 

Four Season! Five Senses!: This story is a series of four poems. They were not written with a particular melody in mind. (Interesting tidbit: I wrote these poems while sitting in a hotel room near Disneyland. I stayed back in the hotel to tend to my son, who was sick with the flu, while my daughter and husband spent the day at the California Adventure theme park. My son slept most of the day. I stayed by his side and wrote poetry). This continues to be one of my favorite books. I especially adore the artwork. 

Hip, Hip, Hooray! It's Family Day!, Opposites Everywhere, and Shape Detective: These stories do not fit to a particular song, but each have a strong rhythm, and they are fun to chant!  

One Trick for One Treat: This story does not fit to a particular melody, but in the early stages of development, it did. The story originally began, "The first time the bell chimed..." and it fit with the rhythm of the Twelve Days of Christmas. After many, many revisions, the original structure was set aside and the current, chant-able rhythm prevailed.

So Many Feelings: I LOVE to sing this story. You can sing this story to the tune of "On Top of Spaghetti." Kids catch on within a few pages and they start to sing or hum along. FUN!

There's a Story in My Head: This story is all rhythm and no melody. I remember distinctly when the rhythm for this story came to me. I was on the airplane (flying back home from the above mentioned trip to Disneyland). I felt the rhythm of the story tapping out of my fingers before I had the words. 

So there you have it. I hope you have fun singing the singable stories and chanting the chantable stories!  Do you know what I would LOVE? I would love it if readers would capture digital video footage of themselves reading, singing (or chanting) and signing these stories. Any takers? How cool would it be to have a bunch of videos of people reading/singing/chanting my stories on my YouTube channel? Think about it...Give it a try...I can't wait... 

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