As with the majority of storytime songs that I have learned over the years, May There Always Be Sunshine was taught to me by a colleague during an improvised rhyme-share session in the library workroom. When I initially learned it, I was told that this sweet song was written by a “young boy in Russia”, making the whole thing sound a bit more like a folktale than anything else. With a little hunting, I managed to find a recording of it performed by a children’s choir in Russian, though they call it a “Russian Pioneer Song”.

In storytime programs, I have often used modified American Sign Language in baby programs as a way to say goodbye to the group. For babies, May There Always Be Sunshine was quiet enough to be used as a lullaby to calm the group at the end of the storytime. For toddlers, they would being to anticipate the actions to the song as the program progressed.

With a little research, I learned that May There Always Be Sunshine was originally recorded by Charlotte Diamond, a children’s musician from British Columbia who won a Juno for her work in 1986. Her album 10 Carrot Diamond was made into a 30-minute children’s show in 1987, which is a massive trip down memory lane for those of us of a certain age bracket (80s kids, unite!).

For the closing credits of her children’s show, Diamond performed May There Always Be Sunshine with her guitar in Stanley Park. She briefly introduces some movements to coordinate with the lyrics, including the ASL signs for “Mama” and “Papa”, and repeats the simple song in a variety of languages, including French, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, German, Chinese and Norwegian. You can watch the full video below:

Now, my version of this song is slightly different. I remember facilitating a baby program a few years back and one of the parents called me out on the heteronormative nature of many of the rhymes I used. They were completely right and I had no excuse for it other than I was using what I was taught and in that case it was predominantly traditionally British nursery rhymes. Since then I’ve been making a conscientious effort to make my own library programming more inclusive. One of the resources I recently found is Storytime Underground, a blog that is full of valuable articles, storytime plans, flannelgraphs and booklists that take a social justice slant. If you’re a storyteller, educator, librarian or someone who works with children, Storytime Underground will make you reconsider every single thing you do.

So, with this in mind, I decided to switch up May There Always Be Sunshine from the original version I was taught. In drop-in family storytimes, I like to use this song at the end of the storytime and I have a great deal of fun instructing the kids in the ASL signs. Keeping the sweetness of Charlotte Diamond’s original recording, I adapted the song to include the signs for “friends” and “family” and it has been going really well. The best part is watching a group of toddlers try to manipulate their fingers to make the sign for “family” – they have to concentrate so hard!

May There Always Be Sunshine
May there always be sunshine,
May there always be blue skies,
May there always be friends,
May there always be me.

May there always be sunshine,
May there always be blue skies,
May there always be family,
May there always be me.

Anyway, that’s the first of my rhyme shares. I’m hoping to upload more videos and include more blog posts like this going forward. If you’ve used this song in your own children’s programming, I want to know about it! Let me know in the comments below. Until next time, friends! 🙂

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