Introduction

To Parents

To Teachers

Why Classic Stories Matter

History of the Project

Resources

History of the Project

Educational research constantly reminds us that regularly hearing stories and rhymes is crucial for preparing young children to succeed in school and later in life. Television, even children’s educational programs, can’t fill the void. To enable children to hear stories even when there is no adult to read to them, I had a dream of creating audio CDs of fairy tales and nursery rhymes to distribute free. In 2006 we began recording fairy tales in the office of Edgar LaMotte, then the Manager of Augusta State University’s Media Center. We had no studio, but Edgar’s talent and resourcefulness as audio engineer gave us an excellent start on an ambitious project. I had no budget, however, and no realistic prospects for acquiring one.

Service on a 2007-2008 University System of Georgia committee to study the core curriculum earned me a salary supplement of $3000. This supplement funded an extremely successful October 2008 production of Sophocles’ Antigone, directed by Rick Davis, aimed primarily at high school and college students. The production earned nearly $5000, which, with the help of Dr. Lillie Johnson (who provided endless guidance and assistance), I was able to spend on this project. I rented time in the university Communications Lab’s audio studio and began recording with student audio engineers Lindsey Hart and Chris Pope, who quickly developed superb editing skills. Through the years Augusta State University faculty, students, staff, and community members performed as readers. (You can find their names in the Acknowledgments section.) Their hard work culminated in the more than two hours of nursery rhymes and more than eight hours of stories, plus longer children’s works like Alice and Wonderland and the Brer Rabbit stories gathered on this site.

I originally intended to create a few purely audio CDs, each limited to a little more than an hour of audio. By May 2010, I had planned to create sets of ten: six audio CDs of stories, two audio CDs of mixed stories and rhymes, one audio CD of pure rhymes, and one DVD of rhymes with pictures. Anna Kisting had already designed beautiful multi-colored labels, employing different patterns of images for each of the ten discs. In 2010, working with the Richmond County School System (RCSS) we won an Improving Teacher Quality state grant to work with kindergarten teachers: “Using Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales to Promote Literacy and Pre-Literacy." (Discussed in the Introduction above; I served as Director of the grant and Dr. Paulette Harris as Co-Director.) The teachers, however, immediately, unambiguously, and unanimously redefined the audio project. (You may remember from school how bossy kindergarten teachers can be!) They whole-heartedly supported the goal of encouraging children to listen to more classic rhymes and stories, but demanded that every rhyme and story be accompanied with both pictures and text. The audio project had roughly 4 months to turn into an audio-visual project.

I had planned on images to accompany 60 minutes of audio, relying on about 100 black and white drawings by Charles Robinson (from Walter Jerrold’s The Big Book of Nursery Rhymes) scanned and refined by Amy Richerson, and about 100 more Frederick Richardson color pictures from the Volland Mother Goose, many of these digitally colorized by Joey Hart to make the faces more socially diverse. I now needed images—and text—to accompany another hour of rhymes and eight hours of audio. The ITQ grant administrator in Athens, GA (now Dean of Education at Georgia Southern University), Dr. Thomas Koballa, authorized us to redirect some of the grant funds to create a master from which to copy discs for the kindergarten teachers to use in their classrooms.

Chris Pope agreed to do the technical work of creating the disc. His sister Catie agreed to colorize even more of the Volland nursery rhyme pictures, to locate and coordinate new images for the Mother Goose and Father Gander rhyme sections, and to find and arrange pictures for all fifty stories, creating new illustrations when necessary. On a bare-bones budget, these siblings did extraordinary work.

Money ran out with the creation of the prototype master disc—I couldn’t pay to duplicate all the copies necessary. Under the guidance of Helen Hendee, Victoria Hann of ASU’s Development Office met with representatives of PotashCorp who in 2010 generously donated enough money to provide a free DVD—a ten-hour audio-visual library—to kindergarten and pre-K students in the Richmond County school system, with additional copies for each kindergarten and pre-K classroom and each elementary school media center. An anonymous donor allowed us to provide discs to kindergarten students in Madison County. An even larger donation by PotashCorp in 2011, sizeable commitment from the Richmond County School Board, and an anonymous donor allowed us in Fall 2011 to provide 30,000 discs individual students and to classrooms in eleven Georgia counties (Burke, Columbia, Harris, Jefferson, Jenkins, Madison, McDuffie, Richmond, Warrenton, Washington, Wilkes) and four in South Carolina (Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Williston).

In 2013 we received a second Improving Teacher Quality grant, “Using Rhymes, Stories, and Digital Dialogic Reading Games to Improve Literacy,“ which (1) allowed us to place online all the material from the DVD, plus a good bit of additional material. You’re able to access this site now thanks to Georgia’s ITQ program and its Director, Dr. Katherine Thompson.

(2) The grant also allowed us to conduct classroom seminars for kindergarten teachers and to create an online 20-hour course on using rhymes and stories to promote literacy and pre-literacy. Even now, teachers can take the course and earn two PLUs (professional learning units; interested teachers should email us at rhymeazoo@augusta.edu).

(3) The grant has also allowed us to create a digital game, Rhyme A Zoo, based on the Volland nursery rhymes. Children listen to 120 rhymes, answer four questions per rhyme, and earn gold and silver coins to purchase an animal for the child’s private zoo; four animals complete a level/zoo section, and a child can move through eight levels. The game is now available as an app for free download at the Apple Store. In 2015 Valerie Cato received our third Georgia Improving Teacher Quality grant, which has allowed us to

(4) add to the website several stories in English,

(5) add translations of about 18 stories in Spanish, plus a few stories in a variety of other languages including Mandarin, Igbo, Italian, and Ukrainian. (Native speakers of these or other languages willing to translate and/or voice record stories should contact us at rhymeazoo@augusta.edu.) This third grant allowed us

(6) to create the Rhyme A Zoo app, and

(7) to initiate creation of a new app featuring phonics games and an interactive picture-word glossary.

In 2016 we published a research article: “Empowering Young Children in Poverty by Improving Their Home Literacy Environments,” Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30 (2016): 211-225. DOI:10.1080/02568543.2016.1143894. Walter Evans, Paulette Harris, Sankara Sethuraman, Dharma Thiruvaiuyaru, Elizabeth Pendergraft, Karen Cliett & Valerie Cato. This article won the Distinguished Education Research Article Award for 2016, presented by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI). On July 5, 2017, at the 20th European Conference for Literacy, with Jenny Landrum and Betsy Thompson we conducted a workshop: “Free Digital Resources Empowering Young Children in Poverty to Improve Their Home Literacy Environments and Develop Bilingual Skills.”

In 2016 and 2017 an anonymous donor contributed funds which allowed us to complete the app Brainy Phonics (also featuring pre-K and kindergarten sight words), now available for free at the Apple Store, and the Android app Brainy Words 2000, also available for free online (find links to both, and to the Rhyme A Zoo app, toward the top left of our website’s home page).

Acknowledgements

Production

Walter Evans General Editor and Project Director
Cal Stephens Lead Developer and Webmaster Emeritus
Gisela Font Sayeras Webmaster Emerita
Gabriel dos Santos Webmaster
Chris Pope Disc Technical Director
Catie Pope Disc Art Director
Lindsey Hart Chief Audio Engineer
Edgar LaMotte Audio Engineer
Chris Pope Audio Engineer
Emily Lambert Audio Engineer
Nate Thompson Audio Engineer
Amy Richerson Digital Text Jerrold (and B&W Images)
Kamila Wodecka Digital Art Jerrold (colored Jerrold B&W images)
Ruth Lent Wiebe Digital Art
Joey Hart Digital Art
Catie Pope Digital Art
Felix Sosa-Rivera Digital Art
Tracie Grace Riesgo Digital Art
Anna Thompson Parchem Digital Art
Jacob Wall Digital Art
Anna Kisting Disc Label Design
Onyeka Ezenwoye Computer Science Consultant
Davin Miller Website Designer
Karington Turner Website Designer
Neea Rusch Highlighting Software
Jane Millward Business Manager

Administrative Oversight and Support

Lillie Johnson Chair, Department of English and Foreign Languages
Carol Rychly Vice- President for Academic and Faculty Affairs
Sam Sullivan Vice-President for Academic Affairs
Jack Evans Vice-President of Communications and Marketing

Funding

Helen Hendee Vice President for Development
Victoria Hann ASU Development Office
Kevin Hyman Director of Human Resources, PotashCorp
Ceil Polk Human Resources Specialist, PotashCorp
Kimberly Gray Director, Grants Administration
Rita Patel Grants Coordinator
Thomas Koballa Dean of Education, Georgia State University
Kathy Thompson Director, Improving Teacher Quality Program
Clarice Thompson Administrator, Improving Teacher Quality Program

Readers: Nursery Rhymes

Cindy Wilkinson Mother Goose Visit
Jim Garvey Father Goose Visit
Patti Myers (Volland) Mother Goose
Linda Banister Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Rebekah Bearden Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Rich Davis Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Walter Evans Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Jim Garvey Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Martha Ginn Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Greg Hatfield Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Bill Hobbins Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Patti Myers Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Cowboy Mike Searles Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Sea Stachura Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Katherine Sweeney Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Debbie Van Tuyll Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Betty Walpert Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Seretha Williams Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Leza Witherington Nursery Rhymes (Jerrold)
Megan Heredia Alice in Wonderland
Edward McCoy Brer Rabbit Tales
Melanie O’Meara Poems
Elizabeth Walpert Poems
Lauryn Robertson Poems

Readers: Stories

Joseph Cornelison
Rick Davis
Walter Evans
Jim Garvey
Brett Hall
Rachel Harmon
Christina Heckman
Megan Heredia
Raheema Johnson
Patti Myers
Mike Searles
Kelly Thomas
Tom Turner
Rose-Anna Thompson
Seretha Williams
Cindy Wilkinson
Elizabeth Walpert
Karen Novak

Readers: Books for Older Kids

Megan Heredia Alice in Wonderland
Edward McCoy Brer Rabbit Tales
Tom Turner Uncle Remus Stories

Readers: Foreign Language Stories

Chinese (Mandarin)
Qiaoping Cai
Nai-Cheng Kuo
Meng Li
Fang Zhao
Jun Zhao
Xiaoxin Zhang
Xin White
French
Anais J.
German
Silvia Leanhart
Igbo (Nigerian)
Eronini Egbujor
Italian
Giada Biasetti
Korean
Sangmi Kim
Kanai Kumai
Polish
Gabriela Pacholczyk
Portuguese
Joao Gabriel Freitas da Silva
Arthur Almeida de Andrade
Merye Gobernate
Gabriel Benetti Pansera
Russian
Anastasia Zolotova
Serbo-Croatian
Marco Randjelovic
Spanish
Ed Acevedo
Maria Branyan
Javier Capriles
Sonia Puerta-Quinn
William Salazar
Gisela Font-Sayeras
Lucia Takacs
Johanna Walters
Turkish
Duygu Minton
Ukranian
Veronika Maliborska

Translators: Foreign Language Stories

Chinese (Mandarin)
Qiaoping Cai
Fang Zhao
French
Vincent de l’Epine
Italian
Giada Biasetti
Korean
Ailee Cho
Moon Soon Kang
Sangmi Kim
Takumi Kumai
Jong Seong Park
Hyangsoon Yi
Jung Wha You
Portuguese
Joao Gabriel Freitas da Silva
Gabriela Carvalho de Sousa
Russian
Anastasia Zolotova
Serbo-Croatian
Marco Randjelovic
Spanish
Malory Bodie
Brian Edwards
Jasmine Griffin
Ruben Harris
Nora Johnson
Rico Lane
Ebony Miller
Dana Ortiz
Jesus Ramos
Gisela Font-Sayeras
Taylor Thompson
Johanna Walters
Dani Westerman
Ukranian
Veronika Maliborska

Readers: Copyright Notice

Jackson Evans
Nora Evans

Consultants

William Bloodworth President, Augusta State University
Dan Whitfield Business
Karl Munschy Business
Maureen Akins Digital Technology
Chip Matson Digital Technology
Rick Pukis Communications Lab
Paulette Harris Literacy and Pre-Literacy
Beth Prendergraft Literacy and Pre-Literacy
Cindy Beatty Educational Media
Nancy Sutherland Children’s Literature
Valerie Cato Children’s Literature

School Coordination

Jene Kinnett RCSS, English Language Arts Coordinator
Kim Stripling RCSS, Director of Media and Instructional Technology
Karen Davis RCSS, Coordinator of Instructional Coaches
Jenny Landrum RCSS, Lead Kindergarten Consultant
Geneva Stallings RCSS, Director of Title I
Jackie Hayes RCSS, Title I Coordinator
Robin Lee Myrick RCSS, Title I Consultant
Rick Pittman RCSS, Videographer
Michelle Sherman Columbia County School System, K-5 Coordinator
Donna Bulla Madison County Schools

Kindergarten Consultants

Jennifer Adams, Nelda Allen, Jana Booker, Mary Chavis, Catherine Draine, Christine Green, Joan Green, Debra Hall, Allison Hardy, Tiffany Harris, Debbie Hopkins, Jenny Landrum, Margie Maccario, Connie Mains, Amy McManus, Deborah Mobley, Ada Morgan, Ashley Pulaski, Karole Putnam, Joy Ricketts, Ann Rosado, Dawn Sanders, Tamera Saxon, Erin Shaw, Annette Simpson, Angenette Singfield, Lisa Sorrells, Cathy Spivey, Djoii Bing Steffer, Samantha Terry, Sandra Thomas, Rita Vasquez, Rhonda White, Andrea Yingling.

Copyright

All audio on this site and most of the artwork is under copyright by Augusta University, all rights reserved. Texts of many stories are primarily the work of unacknowledged translators of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Hans Christen Andersen, Charles Perrault, Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe, and others. “The Little Engine That Could" was taken from My Bookhouse. All these texts were in the public domain, though most of these have been edited by myself (Walter Evans), some more than others, to make them more accessible to contemporary children. (“The Tale of Peter Rabbit," of course, is absolutely perfect and no sane editor would dare alter a syllable of Beatrix Potter’s text.) This site’s versions of “Jack and the Beanstalk," “The Three Billy Goats Gruff," “The Gingerbread Man," “Molly Whuppie," “Anansi," and many other stories, including most of the fables, and the conversational texts for Mother Goose and Father Goose visits are my own and I claim full copyright protection for these. Rhymes identified simply as Mother Goose and Father Gander (or Father Goose) I have cobbled together from a variety of sources. The rhymes designated as Volland represent the whole of the classic collection edited by Eulalie Osgood Grover with illustrations by Frederick Richardson, though Catie Pope and Joey Hart have altered many of Richardson’s color images in the interest of diversity. The rhymes designated Jerrold comprise a selection from the classic Big Book of Nursery Rhymes edited by Walter Jerrold with original black and white illustrations by Charles Robinson, colored for us by Kamila Wodecka. Among the other classic illustrators: Edmund Dulac, Warwick Goble, Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter, etc. Some other alterations of color images, and some original pictures, are the work of Catie Pope: “How Fire Came to the Indians," “Tortoise, Elephant, and Hippo," and “Solomon Grundy" from Mother Goose; and from Father Goose “One, Two, Three, Four," “Eansy, Weensy Spider," and “Star Light, Star Bright." Tracie Grace Riesgo created art for the stories “Molly Whuppie," “The Lion and the Mouse," and “How Anansi the Spider Got His Long Legs." I also claim full copyright for the rhymes in Other Rhymes except for the traditional rhymes “The House that Jack Built” and “Three Little Kittens” and “Elizabeth, Lizzy, Betsy, and Bess” and “Swan Swam Over the Sea” and “The Tutor Who Tooted the Flute”.