Original Songs

For the past few years, I’ve been playing around with writing my own songs to fit with storytime themes.  I’ve always tried to incorporate songs and rhymes as much as possible, mostly because I love to sing, but also because it breaks things up a bit, gives the kids a chance to interact and move around, and often pulls wandering toddlers back into the circle.  I was happy when singing also became a major focus of our library system, following the American Library Association’s promotion of the five easy ways to build early literacy skills: Talk, Sing, Read, Write, and Play.  There’s also a lot of research to suggest that learning songs helps build the neural pathways kids need for reading later on, and that kids who know at least eight songs or rhymes by the age of four, will be among the top readers in their class at the age of eight.

All that aside, writing songs is a fun challenge.  Mostly I play around with basic chord progressions on the ukulele until I find a melody, and then try to come up with lyrics. Admittedly both the songs and recordings are rough (it’s hard to find a quiet place to record with two kids in a tiny house).  But if you like them, feel free to use or adapt them.  If you have any storytime themes you’d like me to write a song for, feel free to ask in the comments.


A song based on the picture book, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, but told from the tree’s perspective:

I am the Giving Tree,
I once loved a boy
Who said he loved me.

I gave him my leaves
To make him a crown.
I lifted him up,
But he just cut me down.

Is this really love,
And is this really living?
His constantly taking,
My constant forgiving.

He took the best of me,
For his wants and his needs,
And his restless misery.

And then he abandoned me
With nothing but dreams
Of what I used to be.

Is this really love
And is this really living?
His constantly taking,
My constant forgiving.

Waiting silent in the snow,
With a tiny seed
Of hope I can regrow.

And that new life will come again,
This time for me
Not for some old broken man.

I will be all I can.
I won’t twist my life
Into someone else’s plan.
Because this isn’t love
And this isn’t living,
And I can be loving
Without always giving,
And I can be faithful
While still being free
And I am forgiving me.


A tribute to Calvin and Hobbes.

Me and the Tiger
We pack every day,
With questions and battles,
Adventures and play.

And all of of the grown-ups
They can’t understand,
That life’s so much more
Than the routines they’ve planned.

They just see a toy
And they think it’s pretend.
They don’t know the magic
You find with a friend.

But me and the Tiger
We make our own rules,
Our world’s more than homework,
And bedtime, and schools.

And when we don’t like things,
We simply defy them,
Or build new inventions
To transmogrify them.

My Mom and Dad think
That it’s all in my head,
They can’t see the monster
That’s under my bed.

But I will sleep soundly,
My best friend beside me,
To laugh with, and argue,
And comfort, and guide me

Through all the adventures
And wonders we’ll see,
When a new day arrives
For my Tiger and me.


I wrote this one in honor of Maurice Sendak.  It includes references to many of his books, including Outside Over There, We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy, and Where the Wild Things Are.

Darling, when you feel afraid,
For you can plainly see,
The world is full of monsters
Who look just like you and me.

Just jump aboard your tiny boat
Follow the falling star.
And sail away through night and day,
To where the wild things are.

And you will dance and then
Let the wild rumpus begin.
But I will love you best of all
When you come home again.

And darling, when the goblins come,
And no one seems to care,
Climb out your bedroom window
Into outside over there.

Bring your horn, and play a jig,
And charm them with a song.
They’ll set you free, and you will soon be
Home where you belong.

And you will dance and then,
Let the wild rumpus begin.
But I will love you best of all,
When you come home again.

When the moon is in a fit,
And you are in the dumps,
Lost in the rye with one black eye,
And diamonds are all trumps.

I will come and buy you bread,
One loaf or maybe two.
And I will bring you up
Cause happy endings can come true.

And we will dance and then,
Let the wild rumpus begin.
And I will love you best of all
Until the very end.

I AM A PENGUIN (written for a Penguin storytime.  I play this one on the dulcimer)

I am a penguin,
My wings cannot fly.
Not like the petrols
And gulls in the sky.

But put me in the water
And then you will see.
There’s no bird in the ocean,
Who flies as fast as me.

On land I may waddle,
And look quite absurd.
A flightless and clumsy,
Black-and-white bird.


My home is the ice
Where we huddle for heat.
I carry my egg
On the top of my feet.


I am a penguin,
My wings cannot fly.
But the ice is my home,
And the sea is my sky.


CANDY CORN FOR DINNER (written for an Ice Cream storytime)

This one was also on an album we made to distribute to storytime families at the Millbrae Library. Here’s a link to that version on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ashley-larsen-1/sets/musical-storytime-2016

C                                                                     G7                   C
My mom and dad put me in charge of our dinner tonight.
C                                                                                G7
They said I could make anything as long as we ate right.
C                                                        G7                   C
I had to serve some vegetables, a salad, and a stew.
C                                                                        G7               C
I thought a while and cooked a bit, and here is my menu.

F                                                     C
We’re having candy corn for dinner
G7                             C
With a side of chocolate stew.
F                               C
A three jelly bean salad,
G7                                                C
And an ice cream sandwich too.

I don’t know why Mom and Dad say cooking’s such a chore,
‘Cause I had such a great time going to the grocery store.
My mom said we were out of milk, so I bought a big milkshake,
And since my dad likes cheese so much, I got him a cheesecake.

We’re having candy corn for dinner
With a side of chocolate stew.
A three jelly bean salad,
And an ice cream sandwich too.


I wrote this one to go along with the book The Adventures of Beekle the year it won the Caldecott Award.

I have a little monster (C)
No larger than a tear. (F, C)
He climbs up on my shoulder (C)
And whispers in my ear. (G7, C)

He’s my friend, my friend, (C)
My imaginary friend. (F, C)
Nobody else can see him. (C)
They say he’s just pretend. (G7, C)


My monster’s always hungry.
He likes to eat my peas.
He brings me little treasures,
Like shiny coins and keys.


My monster sleeps beside me
In a matchbox filled with hay.
He tells me funny stories,
And scares bad dreams away.


If you find a monster,
I hope you’ll let him stay,
To chase away your nightmares
And play throughout the day.

He’ll be your friend, your friend,
Your imaginary friend.
And though no one else can see him,
He’ll be with you till the end.

ABRACADABRA (written for a Magic Storytime)

One day I found a magic wand (C G)
Out floating in a stream. (F C)
I waved it at my dinner plate, (C G)
And my beets became ice cream! (F G C)

I said, “Abracadabra! (C G)
Alakazaam! (F G)
Abracadabra!” (C G)
And my peas turned into jam. (F G C)

So then I took my magic wand
To school with me one day.
When Teacher said, “It’s time to work.”
I said, “I’d rather play.”

I said, “Abracadabra!
Hocus pocus!” too.
And my class was at the zoo!
Being taught by a kangaroo.

So if you find a magic wand
Out floating in a stream.
I hope that it will bring to you
Whatever you may dream.

You’ll say, “Abracadabra!
Presto chango!” too.
Many things will come to you.
Like a treehouse with a view,
And a unicorn or two,
And a chocolate mansion too.
May your every dream come true.


My most recent song, which I wrote for a Thanksgiving storytime.  After months and months of doing storytimes over Zoom, I’ve finally gotten used to seeing myself on video, so here’s a recording of the song I put up on YouTube:

[C] I am thankful for

The [F] colors that I see,

For [C] friends who play with me,

And for my [G7] loving family.

[C] I am thankful for [F] rainbows in the sky,

For the [C] taste of pumpkin pie,

And for a [G7] warm hug when I cry.

I’m thankful [F] for the sky above

I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,

[D] My cozy bed at night,

And for [G] the summer sun so bright.

[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo

But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!

[C] I am thankful for [F] bubbles in the air,

For a [C] cool breeze in my hair,

And for my [G7] snuggly teddy bear.

[C] I am thankful for [F] yummy things to eat,

For [C] ice cream cones so sweet,

And for a [G7] special birthday treat.

I’m thankful [F] for the sky above

I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,

[D] My cozy bed at night,

And for [G] the summer sun so bright.

[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo

But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful,

[C] I am so very [F] thankful!

[C] Most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!