5 Songs For International Children's Literature Day

Founded in 1967 and meant to coincide with the April 2 birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, the legendary Danish author of classic children's tales like The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and the Ugly Duckling, International Children's Literature Day is a celebration of books meant to encourage young people to read.

The International Board on Books for Young People, a Swiss non-profit group which hands out the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Awards to luminaries like Scott O'Dell and Katherine Paterson, is behind the event. Activities often include writing competitions and author meet-ups.

Since all musicians were once children, it's easy to see how they might take the love of their favorite tale into their adult career, and some of the results have been truly spectacular. Andersen himself has an interesting, and probably apocryphal, anecdote related to music.

Allegedly, he commissioned a funeral march shortly before he died, telling the composer, "Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps."

Whether it's true or not, his work has echoed down the years inspiring countless works of brilliant children's literature, and at least five great tunes.

5. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Yertle the Turtle": The two most important Dr. Seuss books you can give your kid are The Sneetches and Yertle the Turtle. The first teaches you the ridiculousness of racism, and the second warns you of what to do when a douchebag is trying to convince everyone why he should have everything and you should have nothing.

This cut off 1985's Freaky Styley lifts whole passages from Seuss' tale. By the by, the man saying, "Look at that turtle go, bro?" That's George Clinton's drug dealer. Clinton was producing the album, and rather than pay off his tab he offered the dealer a spot on the album... on a song based on a children's story.

4. Rasputina, "This Little Piggy": Everything Rasputina does is unspeakably awesome. You may not recognize some of the verses from Melora's rendition of this classic nursery rhyme, but we've been combing through some old copies inherited from a relative and sure enough they're there.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner