Mother Goose and Her Friends Mother Goose and Her Friends
About Mary Jane Haley

About Mary Jane Haley

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Story Telling Programs



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Mary Jane Haley, aka Mother Goose, crowns Old King Cole Daniel Sapitula at Friendship United Methodist Preschool, where Mother Goose engaged her yound audience with nursery rhymes on May 6th (Robin Sheldon / For the Sun)

Living Legend

Mother Goose Brings Rhymes to Life

by Lauren B. Kraft

"Do you live in a book?" 4-year-old Meghan Kloss of Bolingbrook asked Mary Jane Haley.

It's a question the former teacher and librarian has been asked frequently during her 14 years as a storyteller and entertainer.

Haley impersonates Mother Goose, singing songs and acting out scenes with preschoolers and kindergartners.  After a performance at Friendship United Methodist preschool in Bolingbrook this week, Meghan earnestly waited for an answer.

Haley, in a white ruffled apron and green gingham bonnet and dress, leaned down to the preschooler and explained that no, she lives in a house - she'd be "squished" if she tried to live in a book.

"The language of children is make-believe and pretend," Haley said.

At least five times a week Haley, a Downers Grove resident, dons a Mother Goose costume and entertains preschoolers and kindergartners in the area with her 40-minute program.

With stuffed animals and costume props on hand, Haley held the attention of about 40 squirmy 4-year-olds with rhymes such as "Hickory Dickory Dock" and "Humpty Dumpty" on Monday morning.

The job is no sweat for Haley.  She's been preparing for the position since her two grown daughters were born.

"Mother Goose helped them get through college," Haley said.

She also used the rhymes as a teacher and librarian.

"It's a really good way to get children back into reading," Haley said.  "It's age-appropriate, and it's a good way to get children to rhyme."

Singing the songs with your children is a fun way to bond, she said.  She tries to demonstrate that with her act.

"It's a very subtle way of showing parents what they can do at home with their children," she said.

Each of the Mother Goose rhymes appeals to children because they are short, entertaining and relevant to childrens' lives, she said.

"We live in an age where children are used to watching TV," she said.  "Things change quickly."

The subject matter of Mother Goose rhymes makes it easier to grab children's attention.  Children are enthralled with stories about food such as pies, cakes and cookies; animals such as lambs, cows and kittens; and the fear of bugs, sleeping and spiders, Haley said.

During her performance, Haley brings children to the stage for each rhyme.  The preschoolers jockeyed for the chance to don a pink bonnet and hold a toy baby lamb for the rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," or play a spider in "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."

"You are wonderful storytellers.  Let's clap for us," Haley said after the children sang a rhyme and used hand motions to illustrate the story.

Becoming the character in a book helps parents and educators hold the attention of small children.

"If you can move out of your adult mind and into the minds of children... that's what children really love," she said.

Haley often performs for literacy nights, kindergarten registration and Week of the Young Child events.  She does not perform at children's birthday parties.  She appears annually at McGee Elementary School.


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