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Recommended Resources: The Quirky Work of Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton You may not know her name, but I bet you’ve seen her wide-eyed cartoon animals on popular greeting cards and children’s books. In fact, Sandra Boynton has apparently created more than 4,000 greeting cards, which have sold over 200 million copies, as well as more than 40 books that have sold over 30 million copies.

In addition to her work as a humorist and children’s author-illustrator, Boynton is a songwriter who has produced four albums of distinctive, offbeat music.

If English is the target language for your baby or toddler, and you don’t yet have any of her board books in your home library, I recommend them highly. We had about ten of her appealing titles when my kids were younger and they were constant favorites. (For more on the importance of reading aloud to children, see The Secret to Raising a Bilingual Child.)

For older kids, her music is a lot of fun. We have three of her book-and-CD sets, and the songs are quite clever and amusing. (See How the Power of Music Nurtures Bilingual Ability for the rationale behind making music an integral part of your efforts.)

Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

The cute characters and goofy humor of Sandra Boynton’s board books appeal to many babies and toddlers (and their parents). The books that my kids and I have particularly enjoyed include:

Barnyard Dance!
Told in lively rhyme, farm animals engage in a spirited dance around the barnyard.

Blue Hat, Green Hat
Wonderfully absurd, my kids would giggle and giggle at this book. (Even my wife got into a giggle-fit over it once.)

But Not the Hippopotamus
A silly, funny book, with a nod to phonics, starring a shy hippo.

Belly Button Book
More cute hippos, this time showing off their belly buttons. The book-and-CD set Philadelphia Chickens has a catchy, danceable song called “Belly Button.”

Snuggle Puppy
A sweet book for the parent-child bond, the words are actually the lyrics to the “Snuggle Puppy” song found on Philadelphia Chickens. If you know the tune, you can then sing it to your child.

Fifteen Animals!
This board book is also based on a great song from Philadelphia Chickens. That song, “Fifteen Animals,” about a boy who has 14 animals named “Bob” and one named something else (I don’t want to spoil the joke), is very catchy, very funny.

You can listen to the whole song—and even freely download it as an MP3 file—from this page on the publisher’s site.

Music for Preschool and Elementary School Kids

Philadelphia ChickensSandra Boynton’s unique sensibility shines through in her music, too. The book-and-CD sets feature plenty of fun songs, each with a cute full-page illustration, as well as the sheet music and lyrics. The songs are performed by a wide range of people, including such well-known entertainers as Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Alison Krauss, and B.B. King.

Philadelphia Chickens
This album, billed as an “Imaginary Musical Revue,” includes some of our favorite Sandra Boynton songs, so we play it more often than the other two. Along with “Snuggle Puppy,” “Belly Button,” and “Fifteen Animals,” we particularly like “Pig Island” and “Pajama Time.” Some of the other songs lack kid-appeal, I think, but the best of her work is in a special class of its own.

You can sample all the songs right here.

Blue Moo
Subtitled “17 Jukebox Hits from Way Back Never,” this CD features some fun “oldies” with a 50s and 60s feel, including “One Shoe Blues,” performed by B.B. King, “Singing in the Shower,” and the song that once had my kids marching around the house day after day, “The Uninvited Parade.”

You can sample all the songs right here.

And here’s the music video of “One Shoe Blues,” featuring B.B. King.

Dog Train
This CD (“A Wild Ride on the Rock-and-Roll Side”) has gotten less air time in our house compared to the other two. The lyrics continue to be clever, but perhaps the music itself isn’t as catchy. However, the love-lullaby “Evermore,” sung by Alison Krauss, is a gorgeous song and she sings like an angel.

You can sample all the songs right here.

Want more good children’s music in English? See Recommended Resources: Great Music for Kids (and Parents, too!).

How about you? Have you used any books or music by Sandra Boynton? Which ones are family favorites?
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Welcome to Bilingual Monkeys!

I’m Adam Beck, the founder of this blog and The Bilingual Zoo, a lively worldwide forum for parents raising bilingual or multilingual kids. I’m also the author of the widely-read book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability. I’ve been an educator and writer in this field for over 20 years as well as the parent of two bilingual children, now 16 and 13. I hope my work can help empower the success of your bilingual journey.

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