Y is for Why?


We’re at the home stretch for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and that means I have to get a little creative when it comes to my alpha-relevant rhyming picture book titles. So speaking of stretches, here’s today’s selection:


“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.

I don’t know why she swallowed the fly – Perhaps she’ll die!”

Get it? Why? Y?

Until the blogging referee calls, “Foul!” I’ll tell you a little more about this classic nursery rhyme. While I couldn’t track down the precise origin, the song version and lyrics are credited to Rose Bonne. A version sung by Burl Ives was released in 1953 (source: Wikipedia).

The poem and song has a cumulative structure in which the verses grow each time the narrator introduces a new animal. In the absurd tale, the old lady swallows a series of increasingly larger creatures in order to catch the one that came before it. The silly spectacle and memory challenge is appealing to young children. And that memorization and recitation element is an important pre-literacy skill.

For a semi-recent picture book edition of this classic, check out the one written and illustrated by Pam Adams. I was tickled by Adams’ visual take on the old lady’s digestive process (think nesting dolls).



  1. How clever! Using Y for WHY? Our kids loved the repetition and silliness of this poem when they were little. I love teaching my kids to play with words.

  2. She swallowed to catch a spider that wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her (she swallowed the spider to catch the fly…)…OMG you just sent me back HALF A CENTURY to something I haven’t thought of since then!!! WOW – thanks for that, and congrats on finishing the A-to-Z!!

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