My Favorite Read-Aloud

Posted by Kathryn Brunner on

By Kathryn Brunner, Founder of Musik at Home, LLC

It was Monday morning. I’ll admit I was dragging a little. It didn’t take long, though, for me catch a fresh breath of earthy-library-air when I saw my three year old daughter’s excitement for all the books surrounding her. Her energy was contagious! But, I still hadn't had my coffee. 

After attending story time together, we meandered into the main hall of the library to find some fun books to check out and take home.

At first sight, my daughter bounded for all the books on display. She took almost every book off the display tables.

Trying to avoid making eye contact with the librarians, I neatly put them back. Oh the disappointment I could see in her little face... 

On the bookshelves we soon found plenty of wonderful titles to fill our backpack. Then, as we were checking out, I SAW IT!

I saw the very book of rhymes I had read to my older daughter (now six years old) when SHE was three years old.

It was on display.

I quickly grabbed it and asked the librarian if it was ok to check out a book on display.

She said, “Of course! That’s what they’re there for!”

I was overjoyed to be able to check it out, but at the same time, I was feeling pretty sheepish for hampering my daughter’s excitement about the display books earlier.

Oh the things we mamas do… How often can an adult lens dampen a child’s joy?

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I needed to follow my daughter’s excitement and get inside of it. Yes, it’s possible. Once that same excitement reached my own heart, I immediately found a winning solution to gratify it. I wished I had done that for her when her joy was overflowing! 

Anyway…setting that thought aside, now I was the one who was totally thrilled about our library visit! I couldn’t wait to get home to read our newfound gem.

It’s called Hot Potato Mealtime Rhymes. It’s a book full of captivating, rhythmical and free verse poems for children.

Three years ago, I must have spent so much time buried in its pages with my older daughter, that I had forgotten the actual title… until I saw it on the shelf that Monday morning at the library.

Now, having read it to both of my daughters together, I can safely say it is a book that reaches across ages. Both my six year old and three year old love it!


Why Poetry? 

Read-aloud poetry is music without a melody. It’s rhythmical. It’s lyrical. It’s captivating for a child’s memory. Rhymes embody the very essence of song.

Read-aloud poetry helps to sky-rocket a child’s vocabulary. Because poems are so memorable, children easily soak in new words they have never heard. Poetry provides an automatic reference point for understanding new vocabulary words in the context of a story.

What's in the Book?  

The book contains 18 poems selected by Neil Philip. The endearing illustrations are by artists Claire Henley. We enjoy most of the poems spoken in our best British accents. My girls get a kick out of it!

What makes this book stand out?

It’s relatable. All children eat several times a day. They can automatically understand the context of each mealtime poem.

The book begins with “The Old Man of the Coast” by Edward Lear. It is a poem about a placid old man who sits in the water next to a buoy and doesn’t move until he gets hungry…calling for some “hot buttered toast.” We can all imagine the luring smell of hot, buttered toast. We can picture what it was like for the old man to sink his teeth into the crunchy slices of bread.

“Cake Mistake” by Douglas Florian is a curious poem. It’s the story of a mother who used glue as icing on her cake so the children might stay quiet as they “chewandchewandchew.” 

My daughters’ favorite is “Rice Pudding” by A.A. Milne. It tells the story of little Mary Jane who is “crying with all her might and main.” She is throwing one giant temper tantrum on the floor. (Hmmm.. I wonder why my girls like it so much? Relatable, possibly?) Despite all of the wonderful things Mary Jane has to keep her content including rice pudding for dinner, the tantrum continues. It’s a great way to show children how truly silly it is to throw a temper tantrum.

My personal favorite is the rhythmical rhyme “Baby’s Drinking Song” by James Kirkup. It’s in a lovely duple meter with a repetitive sixteenth note pattern. It begins this way:

“Sip a little

Sup a little

From your little

Cup a little

Sup a little

Sip a little

Put it to your

Lip a little….”

The poem goes on to encourage the child not to "tip" or "tap" the cup into the lap or it will "drip," "drop" or topple onto the table.

Last but not least there is the fun, silly poem called “Hot Food” by Michael Rosen. It’s just a guess, but I think this poem is responsible for the title of the book. It’s all about a hot potato.


As a family of four sit around their dinner table, the story is told from the perspective of the older sister. She describes what it’s like to find out her potato is piping hot. She then describes how to blow on it, “whoop whoop until it’s cool, just cool, then into the mouth nice.” She sees her brother and mother do the same thing then “into the mouth nice.”

But what does her father do? He puts a huge piece of piping hot potato into his mouth. Can you guess what happens next? Snag the book at your library or here to find out!

How long is the book? 

It takes about 10-15 minutes to read through all 22 pages, depending on how many times your child wants you to repeat the poems. My girls ask for several of them again and again. Ok, for us, maybe it’s a 25 minute read. I love every minute of it.

Overall here’s the sum of my review!

Clever content. Memorable rhymes and rhythms. Fun ideas that make children laugh. What more could I ask for in a mealtime poetry book?

Have you read this book? Share your thoughts about it below. Do you have another book of poetry that your children love? Share it below!


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