Un-Forgettable Friday: Happy Birthday to You! by Margot Theis Raven; Illustrations by Chris Soentpiet
February 26, 2010 in Anderson, Laurie Halse, McCloskey, Robert, Munoz, Claudio, Obed Ellen Bryan, Personal Connections, Shared Writing, Silverstein, Shel, Writing Skills, Young Adult Novels Tags: Birthday song histroy, Chris Soentpiet, Happy Birthday to You!, Margot Theis Raven, nonfiction picture books
*Nonfiction picture book for preschoolers through second graders (historical)
*Sisters who wrote the song “Happy Birthday to You!”
*Rating: Happy Birthday to You! is a great nonfiction picture book to share with kids about a subject near and dear to their hearts AND with wonderful illustrations!
Short, short summary: Happy Birthday to You! by Margot Theis Raven tells the story of Patty and Mildred Hill and how they composed the music and wrote the words to a song they named, “Good Morning to All” in 1889 for their kindergarten students. While teaching, they started adding other words to the melody such as “Happy Journey to You!” “Happy Christmas to You!” and of course, “Happy Birthday to You!” That’s where the picture book ends–there are some author notes for teachers and parents at the end of the book that talk about how the Hill sisters didn’t have the copyright for their song at first and how they eventually got it.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Either as a shared writing activity or a small group activity, ask your students to compose a new birthday song (or any other holiday song). Have fun with this. You can even use another tune that’s familiar to students and change the words. This will help students go through a similar process to what the Hill sisters did.
2. Young students love to talk, write, and draw about their birthdays. Ask students to draw or write (depending on their age) a journal entry to go with this book about their own birthday.
3. Talk with your young students about the time period when this book was written. Ask them to notice things that are similar or different to their lives. How are the people in the illustrations dressed? What are they doing? What do their homes look like? How does kindergarten look the same or different than their classroom? You can make a Venn diagram with students comparing and contrasting the past and the present.