I read this poem in the 5th or 6th grade or so, so that'd be 2012-2014 (somewhere in there). It was out of some packet copied out of a book for this language arts extension thing (I remember the book being very keen on something called "Jacob's ladders" I think, for difficulty of questions or something like it - this was part of a gifted/talented informal class). It was in english but it could very well have been translated. I remember very clearly that it started with lines like

Tell me a story, said Witch's child
Of the beast so fierce and wild

And ended with a line like

Something nice to make me sleepy.

I also remember it was reasonably long - it filled up the whole page, which was around 11x13 since it had been copied, in a normal size font with a small illustration at the bottom, I think.

I have no idea how I've remembered it this whole time, so I thought I might actually try to find the poem. Thanks!

1 Answer 1


‘Bedtime Stories’ by Lilian Moore has appeared in many collections, but I think it was originally published in See My Lovely Poison Ivy: And Other Verses About Witches, Ghosts and Things (1975) with an illustration by Diane Dawson.

If you’ve seen this poem attributed to a child, that’s because it was plagiarized:

Language Arts, a journal of the National Council of Teachers of English, published in its February, 1983 issue a work by a seventh grader:

Witch’s Child

Tell me a story
Said the witch’s child
So crawly and creepy,
Something nice to make me sleepy.

This is clearly with several word, article, and punctuation changes the work of Lilian Moore, a noted children’s poet.

Myra Cohn Livingston (1983), The child as poet: myth or reality?, Boston: The Horn Book, Inc., p.147

(This is from a long list of examples of published poetry attributed to schoolchildren, that were in fact plagiarized.)

  • Actually, I just found the book I read it in, and this is indeed it (Jacob's Ladder Level 2, page 62. Oddly, it cites the poem as being from a fourth or fifth grade student.
    – auden
    Nov 12, 2018 at 16:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.