Kidding Around: A Storytime for El Día de los Niños

This Friday (April 30) is El día de los niños/El día de los libros, also known as Día. Author Pat Mora was inspired by the Mexican holiday known as Children’s Day, to create a holiday celebrating children and literacy around the world.

For my Outdoor Musical Storytime, I wanted to combine the idea of celebrating books about different cultures and languages, with the idea of children around the world. I considered a wide range of books, but this was what I ended up with:


I’m Hungry! / ¡Tengo hambre! by Angela Dominguez

Super cute bilingual book about a hungry Spanish-speaking T-Rex, and the English-speaking blue bird who tries to help him. The bird offers him a wide range of foods, including bananas, sandwiches, and cake, but the T-Rex only wants to eat…un pájaro azul (blue bird)! Luckily, the bird is able to convince him to enjoy some galletas (cookies) instead. What’s nice about this book is that the bird translates the dinosaur’s words for the reader in a seamless way that makes it read like an actual conversation.

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal; illustrated by Jess Golden

Clever take on the classic song The Wheels on the Bus, featuring a three-wheeled taxi (Tuk Tuk) in India. People in the street jump on and off, the riders on the tuk tuk go bobble bobble bobble, and (my favorite) the tuk tuk stops for Moo Moo Cow. The kids enjoyed joining in on the motions and singing along.

Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Millow; illustrations by Patrice Barton

I included this one as a celebration of the uniqueness of every child. It’s a sweet rhyme about being proud of who you are, with beautiful illustrations.


Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

We sang this in English three times, getting faster each time. Then I taught them the Spanish words. We used “pies” (feet), since in Spanish “toes” is “dedos de los pies,” which is kind of a mouthful:

Here’s a video by Super Simple Español – Canciones Infantiles Y Más with the pronunciation:

Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies, rodillas y pies.
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies, rodillas y pies.
Ojos, orejas, boca y nariz,
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies, rodillas y pies.

Juanito Cuando Baila by José-Luis Orozco

This song is so catchy! The lyrics basically mean “When Juanito dances,/dances, dances, dances./When Juanito dances,/he dances with his little finger./With his finger, finger, finger,/That’s how Juanito dances.” Here’s a video by Elementary Music Fun with the tune.

Juanito cuando baila,
baila, baila, baila.
Juanito cuando baila,
Baila con el dedito. (wiggle little finger)
Con el dedito, ito, ito,
Así baila Juanito.

Juanito cuando baila,
baila, baila, baila.
Juanito cuando baila,
Baila con el pie, (move your foot)
Con el pie, pie, pie,
Con el dedito, ito, ito, (wiggle little finger)
Así baila Juanito.

Repeat, adding a new body part each time. We did rodilla (knee) and cabeza (head).

Wheels on the Bus

The natural follow-up to The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk. I played it on the ukulele (it only has two chords). I usually throw in a surprise at the end, like a dinosaur going “Roar, Roar, Roar!” and then we sing the first verse again, and make our wheels (and the song) go as fast as we can:

[C]The wheels on the bus go round and round.

[G7]Round and round, [C] Round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,

[G7]All over [C] town.

Freight Train


This is one of my favorite storytime songs, because I love hearing the kids’ suggestions for where they want to go, and it seemed to fit with both the transportation theme of Wheels on the Tuk Tuk and our celebration of kids around the world. The song (by Elizabeth Cotten) has an amazing history, although I do the more kid-friendly Elizabeth Mitchell version. Here are the lyrics and uke chords I use:

[C] Freight train, freight train, [G7] going so fast.

[G7] Freight train, freight train, [C] going so fast.

[E7]Please don’t tell what [F] train I’m on,

So they [C] won’t know [G7] where I’ve [C] gone.

Going to Mexico, going so fast!

Going to Mexico, going so fast!

Please don’t tell what train I’m on,

So they won’t know where I’ve gone.

No One Like You by Andrea Willis Muhoberac:

For years, my manager Thom Ball and I used this as an opening song for Musical Storytime, and we recorded it with two storytime volunteers (Ellen Ron and Sue Beckmeyer) on a CD we created to give away to families. It’s such a sweet and beautiful song.

I like your [C] eyes.

I like your [F] nose.

I like your [G] mouth.

Your ears, your hands, your [C] toes.

I like your face.

It’s really [F] you.

I [Dm] like the things you say and [G] do.

There’s not a [F] single [G] soul

Who [C] sees the [Am] skies

The [G] way you see them.

Through your [C] eyes.

[F] And aren’t you [G] glad.

[E]You should be [Am] glad.

There’s [C] no one, [G] no one

Exactly like [C] you.

Stay and Play: Paper People

I was happy to find these templates of people with different skin colors from Picklebums. They were designed so that kids could make clothes out of playdough, but I just had the kids use markers and stickers instead. It was a really simple project, but the kids were very engaged.

What are your favorite picture books or songs about different cultures? Please share them in the comments.

¡Viva! Books in English and Spanish

Tissue Paper Flowers

Tissue Paper Flowers

I had a whole family storytime planned for Cinco de Mayo, with tissue paper flowers as the craft.  But Wednesday night was unexpectedly and unusually hot.  Most of my usual group was at a special event, and everyone else was probably at the beach or hiding out indoors.  It ended up being just me and Olivia, one of the kindergarten girls who’s been coming for several years.  So instead of the storytime I had planned, we read Elephant and Piggie books together for half and hour.  She would read Gerald and I would read Piggie, and then we would switch.  Her dad read all of the additional characters.  She read amazingly well, with lots of expression and even different voices!  Afterwards, we made tissue paper flowers.  It was a fun and peaceful evening, the perfect antidote to a long, hot day where everyone (including my own kids) seemed cranky and unhappy.

So here is the storytime I planned to do (to be honest, I was a little relieved because, although I took Spanish in college, and have studied it on my own a bit, I’m still nervous about my pronunciation, especially those tricky rr‘s).  There are some wonderful bilingual books though.  Here are a few:


Oh No, Gotta Go!  by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by G. Brian Karas ( link)

My daughter loves this book, and I read it to her preschool class the other day.  Rhymed verse tells the story of a little girl who is out for a drive with her family when she realizes she desperately needs “un bano!”  Unfortunately, it is Sunday, and all the shops are closed.  A construction worker gives her parents directions to a restaurant.  The family rushes in, only to find an enormous line leading out of the women’s bathroom.  This book seamlessly blends Spanish words into the text in a way that makes it easy for kids to decipher the meaning.  The story is funny and definitely something kids (and parents!) can relate to.  There is also a sequel called Oh No, Gotta Go #2, which is about exactly what you might think.


Perros! Perros! Dogs! Dogs! by Ginger Foglesong Guy; illustrated by Sharon Glick ( link)

This is a fun, simple book in English and Spanish, with lots of repetition.  I read it to my daughter’s class as well, and had the kids yell out “Espera!” (“Wait!”), whenever we got to those parts.  They liked the illustrations of dogs getting muddy, having a bath, and going down the slide.  Lots of rr‘s for me to butcher in this one, but I love it anyway.


Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by Melissa Sweet ( link)

Another book by the author of Oh No, Gotta Go!  This is a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, again in rhymed verse with Spanish words scattered throughout the text.  My daughter (who has always had a kind of disturbing fondness for the Goldilocks story) loves this one as well.  In this version, Goldilocks runs away, but feeling badly for all of her naughtiness, comes back to the bears’ house with some homemade sopa (soup) and tries to set things right.  Another book I like by this author is Bebé Goes to the Beach (illustrated by Steven Salerno).  I’ve been impressed by her ability to blend Spanish words and phrases into the text of funny stories that kids enjoy.


Faster! Faster! Más Rápido! Más Rápido! by Leslie Patricelli ( link)

I read this one for Toddler Time this week.  It’s a bilingual version of a board book about a girl playing “horsey” with her father.  As she begs him to go “Faster! Faster!” she imagines him transforming into a dog, a rabbit, a horse, a dolphin, and finally…a turtle.  The text consists almost entirely of the phrase “Faster! Faster!” so it’s easy to get the kids and families to learn and repeat it in Spanish: “Más Rápido!” Patricelli has a similar book that I also love for baby and toddler storytimes called Higher! Higher! (there’s a bilingual version of that one too).


Uno, Dos, Tres Deditos (One Little, Two Little, Three Little Fingers)

I did this song both with my daughter’s class, and at Toddler Time.  I sing it first in English and then in Spanish:

One little, two little, three little fingers,
Four little, five little, six little fingers,
Seven little, eight little, nine little fingers,
Ten little fingers on your hands.

Uno, dos, tres deditos,
Quatro, cinco, seis deditos,
Siete, ocho, nueve deditos,
Diez deditos son.

El Chocolate

I did this one for my daughter’s class and for Toddler Time too.  It’s about making hot chocolate. It’s fun to repeat it, going faster and faster each time.  At the end, I have the kids mime blowing on their hot chocolate and sipping it loudly.  Click here to see a short Youtube video with the tune.

Uno, dos, tres, CHO (hold up three fingers, one at a time)
Uno, dos, tres, CO
Uno, dos, tres, LA
Uno, dos, tres, TE
Chocolate, Chocolate,
Bate, Bate, el chocolate! (Mime stirring with your hands).

What are your favorite books and songs in English and Spanish?