Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

“Hey, Little Ant” a Singable Picture Book

Posted on: June 18, 2012

I saw this book in a couple of Kindergarten classes that did projects based on the book and was fascinated to learn that it is a SONG!


Hey, Little Ant
Sing to the Tune of “Five Little Ducks
Words by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
Illustrated by Debbie Tilley

This book is a conversation between a boy and an ant who is standing under the boy’s foot and it is surprisingly thought provoking, especially since the song ends with a question and leaves the answer to be made by the reader (singer).  The song (written to a familiar tune, “Five Little Ducks”) amounts to a kind of morality play that can be performed by adults for children or by the students themselves.  It’s really quite brilliant in its deceptive simplicity.  The illustrations by Debbie Tilley are terrific as they colorfully convey the story, creating a fantastic Singable Picture Book.

“Hey, Little Ant” blog:
This blog includes everything from song history and lyrics to educator resources and study guides for the book to a link for downloading the song sung by the authors.

Author’s blog post about the book and song:

Video of David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans of TWO OF A KIND (not the authors) singing the song,

John McCutcheon is one of my favorite folk singers and he recorded the song (with Catie Curtis singing the part of the ant) for his album, “Stand Up!  Broadsides for Our Time,”
Webpage for John McCutcheon’s recording of the song:

A few study guides associated with this book:

Author’s blog page of Educator Resources:

A script for the words, which makes an interesting performance piece for youngsters, here:,%20Little%20Ant.pdf

A terrific website made by a teacher for using this book in the classroom to explore the ideas of good decision making and judgement and the lives of ants :

A guide for discussing philosophical issues raised by this book,_Little_Ant

Related Posts 



Celebrate Earth’s beauty and bounty, being green, and environmental stewardship with this lovely list of Singable Picture Books:


A list of SPBs with fun and sneakily educational content.  The kids won’t even know they’re learning!


A Fairy Went A-Marketing


2 Responses to "“Hey, Little Ant” a Singable Picture Book"

Dear Emily, It’s so nice to read your post. Ant began as a song, and having a song to sing seems an asset in a classroom or library. Thanks for your kind words and for using “Hey Little Ant”

Phillip Hoose

Dear Phillip,
Thank you for writing. It is a delight to hear from you! And thank you for your book which is deceptively simple (though easy to use), truly profound and thought provoking. I ran across the book in a Kindergarten classroom that I visit once a week with “Sing Books with Emily,” but it wasn’t used as a song. Looking in the back and seeing the music I got very excited since (besides being a mom) my world revolves around Singable Picture Books (performing, researching, and creating them). It will be a treat to add “Hey Little Ant” to the “Sing Books” repertoire…the kids will love the book (singing the song, playing the parts, and processing the ideas) and it will enrich their minds in many ways! I hope we can stay in touch through the wonderful world of Singable Picture Books. Wishing you all the best and sending many thanks, Emily

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