To read aloud, that is what I need.
April 21, 2014 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I have an odd job interview coming up. I need advise on a children's book to read to a grown up audience and a two minute poem or "fun" monologue to recite. I think it'd be best if these related to the joy of learning or science. For the book, I might just read part of "Corduroy" because its beautiful and sweet, but what about the other requirement?

I have one of those creative interviews coming up, I have NO doubt I can do the job. I used to do this job eons ago, it'd be like a stage scientist type gig at a Science Museum. They are structuring the job like its for actors, but the lady in charge told me twice what they really really want is someone who is comfortable talking about science to kids and adults face to face. I can do that! The poems I have memorized already are a little dark (think Destruction of Sennacherib and The Bells) for this audience I think, plus they lack Science(!).

So what poems or passages would you suggest that I perform? Any particularly awesome kid's book you think would be an instant amazing crowd pleaser?
posted by stormygrey to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been in the education business for years and I'm always happily pleased at how many kids and adults love Shel Silverstein.


"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye. My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that?
What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?

G'bye, I'm going out to play!"
posted by kinetic at 9:16 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is a part of me that thinks it would be awesome to "read" Good Dog Carl to them. Only because it doesn't actually have any words, it is all pictures and you have to make up the story. I feel like I would be really impressed if I told someone to read a children's book and they did one like that.

But I absolutely say Shel Silverstein is great for this situation, easy to memorize and loved by all.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:20 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about Sid The Science Kid rhymes? For example the opening song here.
posted by rada at 9:22 AM on April 21, 2014

Absolutely narrate a book with no words. Brilliant idea, magnetsphere!
posted by thatone at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2014

Best answer: If you want to go science-y, They Might Be Giants has an AMAZING album called "Here Comes Science" with lovely (and accurate!) kids songs. The lyrics could make fun monologues/poems that fit your audience. They get special kudos from me on fixing one of their earlier songs:

Song 1 Why does the sun shine?

The Sun is a mass of Incandescent Gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace...

Song 2 Why does the sun REALLY shine?

The Sun is a miasma
Of Incandescent Plasma
The Sun's not merely made out of gas
No, no, no...
posted by synapse at 9:57 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about this edition of When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer.
posted by jbickers at 10:07 AM on April 21, 2014

Yakko's Universe Song? It's spoke-sung, I think it would be fine simply recited.
posted by Diablevert at 10:28 AM on April 21, 2014

Why not do an actual monologue from an actual play? I recommend checking out the plays on Plays for Young Audiences. It's a catalog of work produced by Seattle Children's Theatre and The Children's Theater of Minneapolis who are two of the absolutely best theatres around.
posted by brookeb at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2014

I think a good book might be Oh, The Places You'll Go.

And I know you said you needed a poem, but what would they think if you sang The Elements?
posted by Night_owl at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might find something in this book: The Blood-Hungry Spleen and Other Poems About Our Parts. Funny and educational at the same time.
posted by mogget at 11:24 AM on April 21, 2014

I really like Dr. Seuss, and One Fish, Two Fish has a general theme of biodiversity and asking questions that seems quite suitable for a science educator.

Otherwise, I'd suggest checking out your local libraries and/or book stores and talking to the fine folks in the children's sections, as they could probably reel off a list of suitable titles and poems.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2014

You could do a sequence of short Ogden Nash poems about animals. These are funny and short enough you could actually teach them to the audience in the space of time you're presenting and maybe walk them through coming up with more in the same vein. (Obviously, this would be best if the gig is for a biology/zoology related place.)

For somewhat more heavy-duty grown up science poetry, I'd look at A. R. Ammons maybe?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:35 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another author with a lot of nature-observation poems is Emily Dickinson. For example - A narrow fellow in the grass (snake), The mushroom is the elf of plants, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:42 AM on April 21, 2014

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer for the read-aloud. It's a beautiful book, flies well with adults as well as kids (I first heard it read aloud in an ecologically themed Unitarian church service!) and has a nice underlying message about responsible animal care and habitat.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:58 AM on April 21, 2014

Also for potential read-alouds, check out Steve Jenkins. He does wonderful animal picture books, and they can be good for interacting with kids (What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? immediately comes to mind, but you could have fun with Actual Size or Never Smile at a Monkey.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:07 PM on April 21, 2014

If you want a read-aloud with more science, I'd recommend Are you a Snail? by Judy Allen (Or others of that series.) It explains characteristics of a snail through a series of things to check and see if that fits you, which is a pretty entertaining and amusing way to do it. I've read this to classes of children with success.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:29 PM on April 21, 2014

What book you should read totally depends on what kind of book you think they want to hear. If you want something that adults might find funny, you could read "Monsters Eat Whiny Children" - lines like "sometimes it's hard to know whether you are in the mood for Indian food" crack me up every time I read this book to my daughter. Another book that might be fun to read is "The Gruffalo".
posted by Dansaman at 4:29 PM on April 21, 2014

Check out "Science Verse" by Jon Scieszka. It's all science-themed poems based on famous poems. Think "The Raven's" 'Nevermore' rendered "Dinosaur" or "Jabberwocky" becoming about astronomy. It's fantastic.
posted by Cloudberry Sky at 7:24 PM on April 21, 2014

If you want to do something wonderful but a little more grown-up, I'm a fan of "As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse" by Billy Collins.

If you wanted to go with a short monologue from a play, there are some great bits in Tom Stoppard plays, like Valentine's monologue on fractals, from Arcadia.
posted by kristi at 8:36 PM on April 21, 2014

You could do one of the extended poems from Calvin and Hobbes, though you obviously lose something without the art.

In particular, the dinosaur one, though I'm having the hardest time trying to find which book that's from.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:42 PM on April 21, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I read both Why Does the Sun Shine? and Why Does the Sun Really Shine, with a little exposition in between and it went over great! Thanks.
posted by stormygrey at 10:36 AM on April 25, 2014

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