Dr. Meg Lippert
Storyteller and writer 11 years preschool and elementary classroom teacher; 20 years professor of children’s literature and storytelling; author of 22 books of multicultural folktales; parent and grandparent; storyteller at schools, libraries, and Island Books, Mercer Island, WA
contact:  meg@Storypower.net
website: www.Storypower.net


What role does music play in your work?
"Music is woven throughout my life in many ways--I sing riding in the car, walking in the woods, and working in my garden. So of course I include music in every storytelling program, workshop, and class I teach. I open each program by playing an improvised tune on a bamboo flute that I made. This brings the group together in a shared hush, open to my stories. I include simple songs and chants in many stories I tell, so children can participate actively in the repeated refrains. Often children clap or finger-snap rhythms with me. If the story includes dancing, I invite the children to stand up and dance. I end every program with a song accompanied by my limberjack, a doll who dances on a bouncing board. Sometimes I return to the same school many years later. When children recognize me, they often run up to me and request to hear again the ballad I had sung with my limberjack. "



What is the one thing you want people to know about singing with young children?
It’s fun! It’s easy! And it’s the best gift you can give your children. The songs you sing with them will keep them company during times of stress and times of celebration as they grow. As well as giving them joy and comfort, songs introduce children to great new words and to traditions from all over the world. The rhythm of music is the heartbeat of life. "

You Sing A Song

About the Song: This catchy tune is easy to learn and sing. It’s a perfect way to celebrate all the ways we can make, and enjoy, music together.

Personal Comment: I heard first heard Ella Jenkins sing this song at the Clearwater Festival on the Hudson River 30 years ago. It became one of my children’s favorite bedtime songs, which is why I added the verse, “You give a hug.…”

Jenny Jenkins

About the Song: This is a great song about colors. Originally it was a courting song. A young man would sing the first two lines, and the young woman he liked would have to figure out a rhyme for the color. You can sing it as a puzzle song, with your child finding silly rhymes for the colors. It’s great for getting dressed in the morning, and it’s fun to sing the “fol-de-rol-dy” section together.

Personal Comment: I first heard this song from Jean Ritchie at Pinewoods Folk Dance Camp when I was a teenager many years ago. You can see her sing it with Pete Seeger here: I always loved the tongue-twisting chorus, which Pete teaches slowly on the video. Pete challenges Jean to find rhymes for tricky colors, like “orange” and “purple”! As the Director of Storytelling for Learn With Homer, an IPad literacy app for children ages 3 to 6, I recommended Jenny Jenkins. Canadian folk singer Kori Pop sings a delightful version, available on their website.  Here’s a video of Maggie enjoying Kori’s version of the song:.

3. Jim Along Josie

About the Song: This song was originally used as a dance tune. It probably has African-American roots--the word "Josey" is an African-American dance step. It’s fun to make up new verses with different movements—try leap, run, lurk, mosey—this song could go on forever!

Personal Comment: I use this song in many of my storytelling performances as a good “stand up and stretch” song in the middle of a program. Many of the verses can be done in place, and with a large group I leave out the ones (“walk along,” “skip along”) that require moving around the room. Of course it’s fun to add lots of moving verses with your own children or a small playgroup!

4. I Love My Rooster (variation on Sing With Our Kids is listed as "Had A Little Rooster".)

About the Song Can there ever be enough farm animal songs? Remembering the order of the animals as they are added is a fun challenge of this cumulative song.

Personal Comment: My dad used to sing this one to me when I was little. I often requested it before bedtime as I was very good at making it go on and on and forever!

5. Hush Little Baby
About the Song: This is a classic lullaby, but I changed the words from “Papa” to “Mama” when I sang it to my daughter.

Personal Comment: The original song has the word “buy” in every verse, but my daughter requested the change to “give,” which is much friendlier and less focused on a consumer culture! She requested it every night as her last “bedtime” song for years and years and years, so as time passed I changed the last line from “sweetest little baby” to “sweetest little girl” to “sweetest big girl” in town.