One thing that has proven extremely frustrating for me while pursuing information about Waldorf-inspired education, is the inability to see previews of Waldorf books before I order them. My library system carries very few of the books, so I can’t peruse them that way, unless I want to deal with an interlibrary loan, which may or may not get filled and even if it does get filled, usually takes months to receive. Then, many of the stores that sell Waldorf books have a “no refund” policy on books or charge restocking fees or only give store credit. So I’ve ended up purchasing several books that I have regretted. In an effort to help other people avoid the same pitfalls, I thought I would try to give you all the previews and information that the online Waldorf stores do not provide. I do want to note that many books were written many years ago, before computers were available, and had to be self-published. Also, some books were written by Waldorf pioneers, who have since passed on. I am going to be honest and tell you if the typography on such books leaves something to be desired, but I mean no disrespect to the authors’ hard work.
Today I am only going to be discussing the books of songs and poetry, which often form the very foundation of a Waldorf-inspired preschool or kindergarten education. The three things that I have found most lacking in these books are good typography, indexes, and accompanying CD’s (I can read music, but I prefer, whenever possible, to listen to someone else sing a song before I sing it to Dora).
To go directly to a particular book review, click on the title below:
- Acorn Hills’ Dancing as We Sing and Let Us Form a Ring
- A Child’s Seasonal Treasury
- Clump-a-Dump and Snickle-Snack
- A Day Full of Song
- Gesture Games for Spring and Summer/Gesture Games for Autumn and Winter
- Golden Beetle Books
- Let’s Dance and Sing
- A Lifetime of Joy
- Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures
- Naturally You Can Sing Books
- Pentatonic Songs
- The Singing Year
- Wynstones Press Books
For a list of online merchants that sell these books, click here or scroll to the end of the page.
Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery has released two anthologies, which are distributed by The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). Dancing As We Sing and Let Us Form a Ring were written with the Waldorf teacher very much in mind and are more appropriate for larger groups of children than are available in most homeschools. They both provide a variety of seasonal and other circle plays and singing games. Each circle play/singing game is comprised of several poems and songs put together, tied by a theme. There are some movement directions provided for the teacher. It so happens that Dora and I are very good at improvising with circle games, so these work very well for us and I have a soft spot in my heart for these two books. At the same time, I must acknowledge that the print quality of these books is not great. The music and lyrics are handwritten and the poems are typed. The tables of contents leave much to be desired. There are no indexes. I am unable to find a copyright date or ISBN number for either book. Each is spiral bound, with a cardstock-like cover. The books are not illustrated. They measure 8.5” x 11” and are 70 pages each. Each book does have a companion CD available. These sample pages are from Let Us Form a Ring: Go back to the top of the list of books
A Child’s Seasonal Treasury (ISBN #978-1-300-11492-5), by Betty Jones is a 2nd edition book, with a 2012 copyright. It is a softback book, that measures 11” x 8.5”, and is 139 pages long. It has beautiful, color illustrations and very professional typography (a cheaper black and white version is also available). It has a complete table of contents, and “Subject and Title Index”, as well as an “Index of First Lines”. The poems, songs, riddles, and activities are grouped by season (there is also one category for all year round) and then sub-categorized by “verses and poems”, “fingerplays and riddles”, etc. The crafts are good for inspiration, but I don’t consider the directions to be sufficient to consider this a craft book. The recipes are well-written. Unfortunately, there is no companion CD available, that I am aware of. Here are some sample pages from this book: Go back to the top of the list of books
Clump-a-Dump and Snickle-Snack (ISBN #978-0-936132-23-5), by Johanne Russ, is a 8” x 5.5” booklet of 47 pages of songs. There is no companion CD offered. The copyright is from 1966. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. It is a black and white collection of pentatonic songs, with a couple of basic illustrations. The music and lyrics appear to be done by hand. While the lyrics are neatly done, the music is a bit hard on the eyes. Here is a sample page: Go back to the top of the list of books
A Day Full of Song (ISBN #978-0-9816159-7-4), is a book from The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). It has a 2009 copyright. It is spiral-bound, measures 8.5” x 7”, and is 64 pages long. It contains a collection of 42 original work songs in the mood of the fifth from a Waldorf kindergarten. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. A companion CD is available. The entire book is done in black and white, with some cute illustrations throughout. The music and lyrics, though very neatly done and easily legible, do appear to be done by hand. Here is a sample page: Go back to the top of the list of books
Gesture Games for Spring and Summer (ISBN #978-0-972223-80-5) and Gesture Games for Autumn and Winter (ISBN #978-0-972223-89-8) are both written by Wilma Ellersiek. They are translated and edited versions from The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) and were published in 2005 and 2007, respectively. They are 8.5” x 11” softbound books with spiral ring covers and are about 140 pages each. They are printed in black and white, with illustrations showing the gestures. The text is professionally printed, but the music looks suspiciously like it may have been done by hand, though it is easily readable. Companion CD’s are available. They have complete table of contents and due to the nature of the books, indexes are unnecessary. Wilma Ellersiek has also written two other books of note. The first, Dancing Hand, Trotting Pony (ISBN #978-0-979623-28-8), is a collection of gesture games, songs, and movement games. Unfortunately there is no CD to accompany Dancing Hand, Trotting Pony. Giving Love, Bringing Joy (ISBN #978-0-979623-26-4) has an accompanying CD, but the book is comprised mostly of lullabies. Here are some sample pages from the Gesture Games for Spring and Summer book: Go back to the top of the list of books
Golden Beetle Books publishes a series of four handbooks, entitled Lono & Coco Boato, Snowdrop and Ulba Bulba, Silver Story of Silver Stork, and The Flower Flamers and The Earthy Men. The books are 5.5” x 4” and are about 100 pages long. They are bound in pretty, shiny cardstock and tied closed with pretty ribbons. They are obviously self-published, though lovingly so (there is even some glitter on some pages!). They have some cute illustrations, but the photographs are of poor quality. Unfortunately, the print borders on the microscopic at times, so the books can be a real strain on the eyes (I do have 20/20 vision, BTW). They have table of contents, but no indexes. No companion CD’s are available. These books are greatly loved by many Waldorfians, so I hate to disparage them, but I have not brought myself to use them yet, simply because of the hard-to-read print. I would love to see someone professionally re-edit and reprint them as the stories are quite cute and the books exude a deep love for children. Here are a couple of double-page spread samples: Go back to the top of the list of books
Let’s Dance and Sing (ISBN #978-0-936132-82-2), by Kundry Willwerth, is a spiral bound book, with a card stock-ish cover. It measures 8.5” x 11” and is 55 pages long. It contains 13 circle play/game types of arrangements with drama, music, and movement intertwined. It is has many beautiful and elaborate black and white illustrations. The music appears to be hand written, but most of the lyrics are printed.in a professional manner. There is a good table of contents and an index is unnecessary. The third printing copyright is from 2012. Go back to the top of the list of books
Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures, like the Acorn Hill anthologies, was written with the Waldorf teacher very much in mind and is more appropriate for larger groups of children than are available in most homeschools. It provides a variety of seasonal and other circle plays and singing games. Each circle play/singing game is comprised of several poems and songs put together, tied by a theme. There are many movement directions provided for the teacher. As I mentioned previously, I have a soft spot in my heart for circle games, but once again, I must admit that this book is not the most professionally printed book in the world. It is more professionally printed than the Acorn Hill anthologies, however, with all of the music and lyrics printed in a professional manner. The table of contents is fairly thorough, but no index is provided. There is an accompanying CD. It is a comb-bound book, with a cardstock-ish cover. It has a 2006 copyright, but no ISBN number that I can find. There are no illustrations. The book measures 8.5” x 11” and is 113 pages long. Go back to the top of the list of books
Naturally You Can Sing publishes song books that were arranged and sung by Mary Thienes-Schunemann. Each book has a an accompanying CD included. The book I refer to the most is Sing a Song of Seasons (ISBN #978-097083970-1). The books measure 8.5” x 11” and are spiral bound with stiff, semi-laminated-like, covers. The copyrights vary with each book, but are from the early 2000’s. Each book is about 60 pages long. The printing is very professional and the book includes adorable black and white drawings. The books have complete table of contents and some have an alphabetical-order list of the songs in the back of the book. Here is a sample page from Sing a Song of Seasons: Go back to the top of the list of books
Pentatonic Songs, by Elisabeth Lebret is a 38 page, 8.5” x 5.5” booklet of pentatonic songs. There is no companion CD offered. It has a 1985 copyright. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. It is a black and white collection of pentatonic songs, with a couple of basic illustrations. The lyrics were typed and the music appears to be done by hand. Unfortunately, the print quality seems more like the pages were photocopied, so overall, the book can be a strain on the eyes. Here is a sample page: Go back to the top of the list of books
****The Singing Year (ISBN #978-1-903458-39-6), by Candy Verney is a very thorough song book that includes a CD. Were I to have to choose one, and only one, book from this list, this book would be it. The songs are grouped by season, with an extra section devoted to “Anytime”. It is a black and white, softbound book with a 2006 copyright. It measures 8” x 10” and is 136 pages long. It has a thorough table of contents and an index of first lines. It is very professionally printed, with a scattering of illustrations throughout the book. The end of each section of the book contains a small nature study and seasonal craft section. Here are some sample pages from this book: Go back to the top of the list of books
Wynstone Press offers a 6 book set of poetry, songs, and stories. Four of the books are seasonal books. The books are softback and measure 8.5” x 6”. They all have original copyrights from 1978, with various revisions and final reprints in 2010 (except Gateways, which, at least for my copy, was reprinted in 2005). The books are all black and white, with professional typography, and no illustrations. They have good table of contents, which are in alphabetical order, rather than page order, so are kind of like indexes??? Though I do have one Seasonal Songs collection CD from Wynstones School, it does not appear to correlate whatsoever with the books.
Spring (ISBN #978-0-946206-46-9) – 88 pages longSummer (ISBN #978-0-946206-47-6) – 112 pages longAutumn (ISBN #978-0-946206-48-3) – 88 pages longWinter (ISBN #978-0-946206-49-0) – 96 pages longSpindrift (ISBN #978-0-946206-50-6) is the largest of the books, at 224 pages, and contains a very general collection of songs, poems, and stories.Gateways (ISBN #978-0-946206-51-3) is 96 pages long and offers songs and poems about mornings, evenings, and fairytales (not the full fairytale). Here is a sample two-page spread from the Spring book: Go back to the top of the list of books
Online Merchants That Sell These Books
- A Child’s Dream Come True
- A Toy Garden
- Bookstore at Rudolf Steiner College
- Golden Beetle Books
- Meadowsweet Naturals
- Mercurius USA
- Mercury Press
- Nova Natural
- Paper, Scissors, Stone
- Steiner Books
- Waldorf Books/Bob and Nancy’s Bookshop
- The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN)
- Why Waldorf Works Books and More (AWSNA)
- Wynstones Press
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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.