Storyteller • Educator • Author • Musician


The Evergreens

Gentle Tales of Nature


Gentle, beautiful nature tales for the very young.

Includes The Evergreens, a Danish Folktale,

The Name of the Tree, a Bantu Folktale,

The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, an Iroquois

Myth, The Lion Makers, a Fable from Bhutan,

and The Wind and the Sun, an Aesop's Fable

WINNER Family Channel Seal of Approval

WINNER Parents’ Choice Seal of Approval

40 minutes

Download the complete audio

at ODDS’ STORE or stream to your iPhone at

Perkins Panda

From the Perkins School web site:

The Perkins Panda Early Literacy Program® is the culmination of a multi-year effort of our staff in collaboration with Odds Bodkin and educational leaders across North America. Continuing Perkins School's commitment to early education and intervention, this program is a unique compilation of materials that teach fundamental early literacy skills to children and help parents be more involved in their child’s development.

Included in the kit are three packets, each with an interrelated storybook, activity guide and cassette. In addition, there is a guide to additional resources, a story box and a Gund stuffed panda with a backpack that can hold a tape player. The storybooks all have uncontracted (beginning stage) braille, large print and high-contrast illustrations.

The Program has been designed for children with visual impairments, ages birth to eight years old, and the parents, families and professionals who care for them. It is equally valuable to older children with multiple disabilities, as well as to adults with visual impairments for use with sighted children.

Perkins Panda Endorsements from the Perkins Panda

web site:

"I am writing to offer an enthusiastic endorsement on behalf of the American Council of the Blind…. Hardly a day goes by at our national office when we don’t receive a telephone call or an e-mail message from a parent or family member looking for help and reassurance about ‘the best way to raise’ a blind or visually impaired child. We look forward to telling these family members about this excellent project…."

– Penny Reeder, American Council of the Blind

"We usually have a difficult time getting [our daughter] to sit down and become interested in reading a book. The program was very successful in getting her engaged with the stories through the songs and activities that accompanied the stories…. It made reading time a fun time…."

– Barbara Smith, Parent

"I often review materials submitted by teachers and organizations for possible publication. I recommend few of these…[but] I would recommend the Perkins Panda Program for wider distribution to our field."

– Suzette Wright, formerly of American Printing House for the Blind and co-author of On the Way to Literacy.

"I’m so happy to say at last Shayne had a toy he found both joy and comfort with…. As a parent, I highly recommend Perkins Panda."

– Karin Luciano, Parent

"I am writing to enthusiastically support development of the Perkins Panda kit as a fun and functional learning toy for young children with vision impairments…. We are delighted that the Perkins Panda will be available to encourage literacy in such an active way for young children with visual impairments. The kit is an ideal gift and also a valuable learning tool for service organizations to provide for families and school programs."

– Julie Bernas-Pierce, Blind Babies Foundation

"As we prepare our blind and visually impaired children for enriched experiences in a widening world, the Perkins Panda materials have been an answer to the need for excellence in appropriate literacy programming."

– Terri Connolly, Visually Impaired Preschool Services

"We have introduced the book to one blind child at the infant level. We have observed a curiosity with the book, and the parent is excited to see her child responding positively to books…. We feel this helps the parent have expectations for their child that otherwise they often do not have."

– Mary Ellen McCann, Blind Children’s Center

"I just wanted to say thank you for creating Perkins Panda."

– Judy Cooper, Parent

Dear parent,


    I created PERKINS PANDA® for the Perkins School for the Blind, where Helen Keller went to school and makers of the Brailler.  The Perkins Panda Early Literacy Kit includes special audio stories, music, picture books and toys, along with a plush Gund© Panda bear. You can read about Perkins Panda below. Both images to the left are links to the Perkins School online store.

    PERKINS PANDA is fun for sighted babies, too!  Your baby or toddler will hear gentle songs and a warm, comforting bear voice.


Afloat in Mom's Ocean:

How Babies Listen for Language

by Odds Bodkin

Here's a quick experiment. Say the word “tell.” I know it sounds simple-minded but you're skimming the edge of my article anyway, so why not? It only takes a second.


Notice the little dance the tip of your tongue has just performed on the roof of your mouth?

Try it again.


When you made the "T" did your tongue hold back a little pocket of air, then let it

shoot down the back of your front teeth and out your mouth? Don't do this too many times or “tell” will become strange, as my son Jon calls repeating a word so many times it loses all meaning.

"Feral," I say to him. "The word becomes feral."

"What's 'feral'?"

"Reduced to its essential nature, without any mental meaning stuck to it."


When you repeat a word many times, the imagery it conveys bleaches out and you're left with your tongue, lips, teeth and breath creating funny noises––what this article is all about––phonemes.

Word atoms.

The essential building blocks of language.  After all, that’s what storytelling uses.

Phonemes. There are only about fifty of them, yet they number plenty for all human languages.

Try a variation on Mr. T. Try pronouncing the word “sit.”


Now what's your tongue doing? A little different, eh? Pardon the pun, but does your tongue close like a pull-down attic door and, well, just sit there?


An entirely different T from the one that shoots out the air. But still the same phoneme. In fact, we seldom notice the difference. We hear the same "T" and filter out all those tip-of-the-tongue nuances nobody thinks about anyway.

Babies hear phonemes, too. In 1974 scientist William Condon discovered that beginning in the seventh month of pregnancy, floating in mom's ocean, babies start listening very hard (Science, Jan.11, 1974). He noticed babies in utero made fifty or

so distinct muscular movements––and did so instantly––whenever mom said something.  Or dad.

Each movement, he discovered, matched a phoneme. Same phoneme, same movement. Every time.

Later, other scientists in Stockholm discovered that "babies in the womb were not only hearing, but apparently learning speech and 'practicing' the fine neuro-muscular movements of the vocal tract that are used in crying and vocalizing after birth." (Chamberlain, 1988).

So when you first held that wailing newborn of yours, baby had been practicing the big show for quite a while, you can count on it.

The point of all this is that your baby, child, or teen has been hardwired for language since fetal times, and how well your child ends up able to use language is something you can get to work on from the get go.

So talk to your baby. Sing to your baby. Play classical music for your baby. And once your baby is born, tell stories to her, or him. Read aloud. Converse.

Even if all you get in return is goo-goo gah-gah and some runny poop, don't fret.

There's a genius in there.


All content © 2012 Odds Bodkin/Rivertree Productions

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