For the youngest listeners there is a special genre called Nursery Tales. Not Mother Goose rhymes, not fingerplays, but fully story, these tales amuse, frighten or satisfy tots and stimulate cognitive play in ways that are quite visible and exciting to the storyteller. Classics for two- and three-year olds are “Three Little Pigs,” “Goldilocks,” “The Gunniwolf,” “Little Red Hen,” “Gingerbread Man,” “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” and others.
Unlike nursery rhymes and fingerplays, which are important and wonderful, Nursery Tales lay the groundwork for the concept of story, and—preaching to the choir, here!—story is what makes us human.
One of these will be “just right!”: a wonderful small collection with a CD, a collection by one of America’s favorite illustrators, and a worldwide collection.
Lupton, Hugh, The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud, illustrated by Sophie Fatus. (Includes CD of the tales told by Hugh Lupton.) Barefoot Books 2009.
Scarry, Richard, Richard Scarry’s Best Nursery Tales Ever. Golden Books 2014.
Sierra, Judy, Nursery Tales Around the World, Illustrated by Stefano Vitale. Clarion, 1996.