Preschool Verse by Gen Xers: Selections from The Folkstories of Children

A monkey
a dog
a book
a fish
–Adam, two-years-old

The Folkstories of ChildrenAdam, the pseudonymous author of this verse, is now facing middle age. Nearly forty years ago, psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith and a team of innovative researchers began collecting stories from Adam and hundreds of other New York City school children between the ages of two and ten years. These original tales were compiled in Sutton-Smith's The Folkstories of Children, which will be released in paperback this summer. Each week this month, we'll share selections from the ground-breaking collection. This week, we present tales from "Part One: Verse Stories Ages Two through Four Years."

In the introduction to the collection, Sutton-Smith wrote, "Part of the function of this book is to show that when given the opportunity, children are inveterate tale tellers, and the tales they tell have considerable similarity to traditional folktakes." Hence, the title.

"It's not just nonsense," said Sutton-Smith recently. Looking back on the collection, he admits many of the stories are "hilariously awful." Still, he advises readers not to be cynical about them. For all their scatological humor, pop culture references, and apparent lack of structure, these verses and narratives serve many of the same needs as stories told by adults. Sutton-Smith observes that the children used stories to entertain themselves and their friends, and to understand life's many uncertainties. To this day, he delights in their creativity.

Batman got crashed in the fence
him fall down
him walk home
and then he went to bed
him have a good sleep
I finished
–Cathy, two-years-old

and I go
and then my Daddy
and then I go and my Daddy
and then I go on an airplane
and I went on a horsey
and I get on a train
and go home
  and then go to sleep
then go home
–Clarence, two-years old

I got two stories to tell ya
about your body
you have a skeleton in your body
and you have bones
and the body keeps you going and going and going
when you fill up your body food comes out
then you go to the bathroom

How about two dragons
once upon a time was a dragon
and he danced with the clouds
and nobody could be near his mountain
the end

–Frank, three-years-old

Cookie Monster found a Cookie Monster
Boy fell cause he couldn't really see where he was going
[Ingbert was inside a costume of the Cookie Monster.]
the end

Once upon a time the once upon a time ate the once upon a time
  which ate the once upon a time
and then the once upon a time which ate the once upon a time
  ate the princes once upon a time with the kind
and the the once upon a times died
then the end ate the end
the end
the end
then the end died
then the end died
then the end died
then the end died
and then the end the end the end died
the end with a then end
the end
the end

–Ingbert, four-years-old