Bill Harley

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This article is about the children's entertainer. For the co-founder of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, see William S. Harley.
Bill Harley
Born U.S.
Occupation Musician, Storyteller, Author
Years active 1975–present

Bill Harley is a children's entertainer and storyteller who has been called "the Mark Twain of contemporary children's music" by Entertainment Weekly.[1] He uses a range of musical styles and appeals to children and adults with quirky, heart-filled lyrics. He received the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album For Children (albums consisting of predominantly spoken word versus music or song) for his albums Blah Blah Blah: Stories About Clams, Swamp Monsters, Pirates & Dogs and Yes to Running! Bill Harley Live in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Harley's latest CD is High Dive was released 2012. In addition to children's music, he performs at storytelling festivals around the country including appearances at the National Storytelling Festival.

Harley has also published six books. These include: Sitting Down To Eat which was selected as an American Booksellers Association Pick of the list; Sarah's Story a Storytelling World Award Winner; and The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher his first novel for elementary students. He is currently working on another novel and has another picture book slated for publication.[2] His second novel for children, Night of the Spadefoot Toads, was released in October 2008.

Harley has performed for more than 2500 schools and currently lives in Seekonk, Massachusetts.



  • 1999 Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album For Children; Weezie And The Moon Pies
  • 2008 Grammy Award Best Musical Album for Children; I Wanna Play
  • 2010 Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album For Children; The Best Candy In The Whole World


  • 2001 National Storytelling Network's Circle of Excellence Award[3]
  • 2006 Parents' Choice Gold Storytelling World Award; Joey, Chloe and the Swamp Monsters
  • 2007 Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album For Children - Blah Blah Blah: Stories About Clams, Swamp Monsters, Pirates & Dogs
  • 2009 Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album For Children - Yes to Running!
  • 2009 Green Earth Book Award Children's Fiction - Night of the Spadefoot Toads[4]
  • 2010 Rhode Island Humanities Council Lifetime Achievement Award[5]


  • 1984: Monsters in the Bathroom
  • 1986: 50 Ways to Fool Your Mother
  • 1987: Dinosaurs Never Say Please
  • 1987: Cool In School (with ZANZIBAR!!)
  • 1988: You're in Trouble
  • 1990: Grownups Are Strange
  • 1990: Come On Out and Play
  • 1995: Wacka Wacka Woo
  • 1995: From the Back of the Bus
  • 1996: Big Big World
  • 1996: Lunchroom Tales: A Natural History of the Cafetorium
  • 1997: There's A Pea On My Plate
  • 1998: Weezie and the Moonpies
  • 1999: Play It Again
  • 1999: The Battle of the Mad Scientists and Other Tales Of Survival
  • 2001: Down in the Backpack
  • 2002: Sandburg Out Loud
  • 2003: The Town Around the Bend
  • 2004: cELLAbration! A Tribute to Ella Jenkins
  • 2004: The Teachers' Lounge
  • 2005: One More Time
  • 2005: Blah Blah Blah
  • 2007: I Wanna Play
  • 2008: Yes to Running! Bill Harley Live Double CD
  • 2010: Rock & Roll Kids
  • 2010: The Best Candy in the Whole World
  • 2012: High Dive


  • 1989: Peter Alsop & Bill Harley: In the Hospital
  • 1995: Nothing Happened
  • 1996: Sarah's Story
  • 1996: Sitting Down to Eat
  • 2001: Bear's All Night Party
  • 2006: Do It Together: A Collection of Favorite Songs
  • 2006: The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher
  • 2008: Dirty Joe the Pirate
  • 2008: Night of the Spadefoot Toads

Harley's "Rules of the Universe" and philosophy[edit]

"Rules of the Universe"[edit]

  • It's always harder to put something back together than it is to take it apart.
  • If you spend all your time cleaning your desk, you'll just have a clean desk. That's not enough.
  • Listen - you're missing something cool.
  • All children should be given a ukelele when they're born.
  • We're more alike than we are different.
  • If you're older than two, and can't sing a song and tell a story, you're in trouble.
  • Sometimes, a plate of spaghetti is the best thing in the world.[2]

Philosophy ("Free advice, if you want it")[edit]

"Everybody worries about things being 'educational' with kids. I believe everything is educational, in that it says something about how one looks at the world - it imparts a knowledge, or world-view. Children learn more from context than they do from explicit lessons, so assume they're working to understand something - they learn vocabulary and language not from a dictionary or worksheet, but from conversation, they learn songs not from reading music, but from singing with someone who loves to sing, and they learn hope and kindness and cooperation not from being told to have them, but by experiencing them."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Swift, P.J. "Bill Harley - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Bill Harley Bio from Retrieved January 23, 2008.
  3. ^ "Circle of Excellence Award Recipients". National Storytelling Network. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Green Earth Book Award". Newton Marasco Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Morgan, Thomas. "R.I. Humanities Council picks Harley, Kazarian for prizes". Projo 7 to 7 News Blog. The Providence Journal. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 

External links[edit]