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Classic Poetry and Stories for Children - The Best Things in Life are Free 

The Owl and the Pussycat


Wynken, Blyken and Nod


Mother Goose Rhymes and Riddles


The Adventures of Pinocchio


Project Gutenberg Books Online - Kate Greenaway Books with Illustrations


Rosetta Stone Books Online


Children's Story Prints 



The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear


Edward Lear was a 19th century English poet and illustrator.  He was playful with the English language, often coining new words and writing nonsensical poetry.  He was the Dr. Seuss of his time.


Some words you’ll need to know for when your children ask, “What does that mean?”:

  • Five-pound note, shilling - British money

  • Bong-tree - a plant invented by Lear, that grows in the imaginary Great Gromboolian Plain

  • Runcible spoon - coined by Lear, a three-pronged fork, curved like a spoon, with a cutting edge



The Owl and the Pussycat


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

            In a beautiful pea-green boat:

They took some honey, and plenty of money

            Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

            And sang to a small guitar,

“O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,

            What a beautiful Pussy you are,

                        You are,

                        Your are!

            What a beautiful Pussy you are!”


Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl,

            How charmingly sweet you sing!

Oh! Let us be married; too long we have tarried:

            But what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away, for a year and a day,

            To the land where the bong-tree grows;


And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,

            With a ring at the end of his nose,

                        His nose,

                        His nose,

            With a ring at the end of his nose.


“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

            Your ring?”  Said the Piggy, “I will.”

So they took it away, and were married next day

            By the turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince and slices of quince,

            Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sane,

            They danced by the light of the moon,

                        The moon,

                        The moon,

            They danced by the light of the moon.



Dutch Lullaby - Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene Field


Eugene Field was a late 19th century poet and journalist from St. Louis, Missouri.  He wrote a daily newspaper column and authored several books of verse.  He was especially good at writing verse for children. 


Wynken, Blynken and Nod is called a Dutch Lullaby because it’s supposed to be what a Dutch parent would sing to a child at bedtime.  Mr. Lear’s other famous children’s poem is Little Boy Blue.


These words are explained in the last stanza of the poem, but in case you can’t wait:

  • Wynken is Dutch for winking.

  • Blynken is Dutch for blinking.

  • Nod is Dutch and English for nod, as in nodding your head, or going to the Land of Nod (sleep).





Dutch Lullaby - Wynken Blynken and Nod


Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night

            Sailed off in a wooden shoe,--

Sailed on a river of crystal light

            Into a sea of dew.

“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”

            The old moon asked the three.

“We have come to fish for the herring fish

            That live in this beautiful sea;

            Nets of silver and gold have we!”

                        Said Wynken,


                        And Nod.


The old moon laughed and sang a song,

            As they rocked in the wooden shoe;

And the wind that sped them all night long

            Ruffled the waves of dew.

The little stars were the herring fish

            That lived in that beautiful sea--

“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,--

            Never afeard are we!”

            So cried the stars to the fishermen three,



                        And Nod.


All night long their nets they threw

            To the stars in the twinkling foam,--

Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,

            Bringing the fishermen home:

‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed

            As if it could not be;

And some folk thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed

            Of sailing that beautiful sea;

            But I shall name you the fishermen three:



                        And Nod.


Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,

            And Nod is a little head,

And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies

            Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;

So shut our eyes while Mother sings

            Of wonderful sights that be,

And you shall see the beautiful things

            As you rock in the misty sea

            Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:--



                        And Nod.





Mother Goose Rhymes and Riddles


Mother Goose is synonymous with nursery rhymes, and since no one is really sure where the name came from, it can be used loosely.  However, the rhymes and riddles printed in England back in the 1700s are usually considered the classics.


You can read them all on-line at Amherst’s website.  Here are a few for fun.


This Little Pig Went to Market

This little pig went to market;
This little pig stayed at home;
This little pig had roast beef;
And this little pig had none;
This little pig said, "Wee, wee, wee!
I can't find my way home."



Peter Piper

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?



As I Was Going to St. Ives

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives;
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits;
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?

(One, only the one telling the story was ‘going to St. Ives’)



I Saw a Ship A-Sailing

I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea;
And oh, it was all laden
With pretty things for thee!

There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold;
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold.

The four and twenty sailors,
That stood between the decks,
Were four and twenty white mice,
With chains about their necks.

The captain was a duck,
With a packet on his back;
And when the ship began to move,
The captain said, "Quack, Quack!"



Monday’s Child…

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.



The Adventures of Pinocchio by Collodi


Pinocchio is the third most popular book ever written.  It’s been printed in over 200 languages, and it has never been out of print since it’s original publication in 1883.  It’s been made into countless plays and films.


The original text of the 300-plus page book is available to read on-line in PDF form, illustrated with photographs.  You can read it on-line or save the PDF book to your computer to read to your child, or for your child to read. 


If you prefer to just read the text only, on-line in html format, you can do that at the Free Library.


Here’s how the story begins.


The Adventures of Pinocchio


CHAPTER 1   How it happened that Master Cherry, carpenter, found a piece of wood that wept and laughed like a child


Centuries ago there lived…


"A king!" my little readers will say immediately.


No, children, you are mistaken.  Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.  It was not an expensive piece of wood.  Far from it.  Just a common block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm.


I do not know how this actually came to happen, yet the fact remains that one fine day this piece of wood found itself in the shop of an old carpenter.  His real name was Master Antonio, but everyone called him Master Cherry, for the tip of his nose was so round and red and shiny that it looked like a ripe cherry.


As soon as he saw that piece of wood, Master Cherry was filled with joy.  Rubbing his hands together happily, he mumbled half to himself:


"This has come in the nick of time.  I shall use it to make the leg of a table."

He grasped the hatchet quickly to peel off the bark and shape the wood.  But as he was about to give it the first blow, he stood still with arm uplifted, for he had heard a wee, little voice say in a beseeching tone: 


"Please be careful!  Do not hit me so hard!"


What a look of surprise shone on Master Cherry's face!  His funny face became still funnier.  He turned frightened eyes about the room to find out where that wee, little voice had come from and he saw no one!  He looked under the bench…no one!  He peeped inside the closet--no one!  He searched among the shavings… no one!  He opened the door to look up and down the street…and still no one!


"Oh, I see!" he then said, laughing and scratching his wig.  "It can easily be seen that I only thought I heard the tiny voice say the words!  Well, well, to work once more."

He struck a most solemn blow upon the piece of wood.


"Oh, oh!  You hurt!" cried the same far-away little voice.


Master Cherry grew dumb, his eyes popped out of his head, his mouth opened wide, and his tongue hung down on his chin.  As soon as he regained the use of his senses, he said, trembling and stuttering from fright…


"Where did that voice come from, when there is no one around?  Might it be that this piece of wood has learned to weep and cry like a child?  I can hardly believe it.  Here it is, a piece of common firewood, good only to burn in the stove, the same as any other.  Yet, might someone be hidden in it?  If so, the worse for him. I'll fix him!"


With these words, he grabbed the log with both hands and started to knock it about unmercifully.  He threw it to the floor, against the walls of the room, and even up to the ceiling.


He listened for the tiny voice to moan and cry. He waited two minutes…nothing; five minutes…nothing; ten minutes…nothing.


"Oh, I see," he said, trying bravely to laugh and ruffling up his wig with his hand.  "It can easily be seen I only imagined I heard the tiny voice!  Well, well, to work once more!"


The poor fellow was scared half to death, so he tried to sing a gay song in order to gain courage.


He set aside the hatchet and picked up the plane to make the wood smooth and even, but as he drew it to and fro, he heard the same tiny voice.  This time it giggled as it spoke:


"Stop it!  Oh, stop it!  Ha, ha, ha!  You tickle my stomach."


This time poor Master Cherry fell as if shot.  When he opened his eyes, he found himself sitting on the floor.


His face had changed; fright had turned even the tip of his nose from red to deepest purple.


End of Chapter 1 of The Adventures of Pinocchio



Read more online.

Pinocchio Coloring Pages





Project Gutenberg Books Online


This wonderful online library of books includes the texts of children's books to read online, with the original illustrations.  Here is just a sampling, but do a search of your own, and then click on the HTML version that is not zipped, so you can read it online.


Humpty Dumpty (a long version of the Mother Goose poem, with lots of colorful illustrations)


Aunt Friendly's Picture Book (classic children's stories with colorful illustrations)


Nursery Stories and Rhymes (lots of colorful images)


Kate Greenaway Books

A Apple Pie (an alphabet book with all the illustrations dealing with an apple pie - cute!)

Marigold Garden (full of delicate illustrations that accompany children's rhymes)

Mother Goose or Old Nursery Rhymes (each illustrated with one of Greenaway's delicate designs)

Robert Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin (fully illustrated story)

Bret Harte's Queen of Pirate Isle (longer text for older children, illustrations very cute for little girls)

Under the Window, Pictures and Rhymes for Children (charming illustrations of children at play)





Rosetta Project Books Online


Classic children’s poetry and stories are long out of copyright, which means they are available on-line for free.  The Rosetta Project is the best place to start.  It is the largest collection of antique children’s books in English on-line.




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Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site