a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

Bedtime stories, here there and everywhere… a U.S vs U.K perspective

While most nursery rhymes are the same on both sides of the pond, think Humpty Dumpty, Little Miss Muffet… popular bedtime stories and authors are different.

The bedtime classic


In Chicago, the bedtime classic is any Dr Seuss book. Take your pick – starting with The Cat in the Hat all the way through Fox in Socks, each of these books has become a go-to for parents in Chicago and throughout the U.S. Like the rhythm of the Iambic Pentameter of Shakespear’s sonnets – anyone who’s read one of Dr. Seuss’s books is familiar with the rhythm or beat that flows through the words as you read. Those of you who’ve read his books as a child or to your children wouldn’t be surprised to learn that when writing his books he said he was trying to copy the sound of a boat’s clanging engine. In fact, the idea for the book had come to him while he was traveling from Europe to America by boat and heard the ship’s noisy engine.

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Seuss or his books and career, definitely check out Seussville – it’s a fun website and treasure trove of Dr. Seuss info, videos, games, activities and more.


In the UK, the Mr Men series is a popular collection with kids and adults alike. Like the Dr. Seuss books once you see one bok you easily recognize the others and begin to enjoy the adventures of each new Mr Man you meet. As opposed to the Dr Seuss books, while the kids enjoy the silly pictures and stories, the words in the stories aren’t for early readers. Also, some of the words are maybe not those we’d expect to share with our kids at a young age (hello introduction of the word “nincompoop” to my kids vernacular)

The Mr Men series was written by Roger Hargreaves and includes 49 Mr Men books and later 42 Little Miss books with female characters – each book focused on one character and their personality traits. Mr. Tickle and Mr. Silly are favorites in our household.

The silly storytellers


For funny turns of phrase, tongue twisters and tinglers Shel Silverstein has been an American kid’s classic of poems, short stories and silly songs. Shel was a Renaissance man – not just an author and poet, he was also a singer-songwriter, Musician, composer, cartoonist, and screenwriter. Whether it’s a snail in your nose that will bite off your finger if you pick your nose, or what happens if you refuse to take the garbage out, Shel Silverstein has been nudging children into the path of good behavior for generations. Besides being a children’s author and poet, he was also a cartoonist for magazines including Playboy Magazine, and songwriter, creating hits like “A Boy Named Sue,” famously sung by Johnny Cash.


In the UK the storyteller who uses imagination and funny situations to turn kids onto the path of good behaviour is Roald Dahl. Sure, he’s known in the U.S. for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach – but there’s so much more to his oeuvre. was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screenwriter. If you appreciate dark humor and or Neil Gaimmon stories – you’ll love Roald Dahl’s children (and adult) stories. One of the traits of his books that makes it resonate so well with kids is that the stories are for the most part told from the children’s point of view. I think my personal favorite children’s story of his is Mathilda, it’s so satisfying when Mathilda discovers her powers and really lets the mean adults have their comeuppance! {For those of you in London – there’s currently a fantastic stage version of Mathilda being put on – you should go see it! }

It’s interesting to note that both Dr. Seuss ( aka Theodor Seuss Geisel ) and Shel Silverstein (Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein) were from Illinois, Springfield and Chicago respectively.  In honor of the 108th birthday of Dr Seuss – Chicago blogger Tailor Made Momma, will be giving away $50 worth of Dr. Seuss books. You can enter to win between March 2-9th. 2012. (details to follow shortly)

How about you? Who’d win in a contest at your house? Dr. Seuss vs. Mr Men? Shel Silverstein vs. Roald Dahl?

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book and how much of it can you recite from memory?

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