Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald
Children’s Librarian for 30 years. Author of 60 books on folklore and storytelling topics. Travels the world telling stories and offering her “Playing with Story” workshops.

website: www.margaretreadmacdonald.com


What role does music play in your work?
"My favorite folktales are those that include singing refrains. Many folk cultures take joy in pulling their audiences into a tale with song. My most fun performances are those with musician Richard Scholtz, who plays autoharp as I tell in a music & story duet. And recently Nancy Stewart has jumped in with the same kind of joyful musical counterpart when I am telling stories at Island Books on Mercer Island.  And of course the best way to help audiences stay in a calmed down listening mode is to get them on their feet between stories with a lively action song! "



What is the one thing you want people to know about singing with young children?
Just DO it! You don’t have to be “able to sing.” I sing totally off key but the children certainly don’t mind. We just sing out and have fun together."

1. Arabella Miller

About the Song Delightful action song with a twist. Excellent word play with the L sound…Arabella Miller…cater-pillar…

Personal Comment: I love songs which have a bit of story attached. This one has a delightfully wicked Arabella Miller who keeps putting caterpillars on her family members. Let the children pretend putting caterpillars on each other. Lots of squirming and yucking ensues.

2. Have You Ever Been A’fishin’

About the Song: Another of my favorite action story-songs. All about going fishing and getting bitten on the seat of the pants by an alligator! And ending with a hoochy koochy dance for everyone. What’s not to love!

Personal Comment: This provides a great get-up-and-stretch moment. Encourage everyone to wave their arms in the air and wiggle those hips in their final hoochy-koochy dances.

3. Bluebird Bluebird

About the Song: This gentle circle game has a soothing effect. We form a circle holding hands and let the chosen bluebird fly in and out of the windows we form with lifted arms. It is like the “Go in and out the window” song of my childhood, but I love the bluebird image even more.

Personal Comment: This story always calms everyone down. And it is sweet to make a little paper bluebird on a string to carry around afterward and remember the moment.

4. The Old Grey Cats

About the Song Another story song. This one is done in a circle with everyone miming the actions as the story progresses. Lots of opportunity for dramatic action in this one.

Personal Comment: This is a favorite of mine . I do it a little different from Nancy’s version. I end with “The old grey cat comes creeping.” And then “The little mice all scamper!” It makes a rather wild ending, but is fun. The only problem is getting the mice all back in the circle again.
Fun to do with a small gang of grandkids.

5. The Little Skunk’s Hole
About the Song: A wickedly stinky songlet.

Personal Comment: Such fun to see a song from my childhood here. My father used to sing this to me with such delight. It works best one on one, I think, as it is sort of a joke-song.