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.