SINGING for Early Literacy!

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. Literacy is like growing, it happens slowly over time.

SINGING with your child is one of the five early literacy practices that help him or her get ready to read. Singing to your child is often an instinctive habit and more than likely something you’ve been doing since he or she was a baby. Did you know that singing, rhyming and chanting can be one of the most important activities you do for encouraging your child’s speech and language development?

Songs, rhymes and chants along with rhythm and movement help your child learn the intricacies of speech patterns, pronunciation and individual sounds.  Singing teaches children how language is constructed. When you sing, words and phrases are slowed down and can be better understood.

Songs, rhymes and chants help children develop listening skills. Singing children’s songs and rhymes will help your child to build up a vocabulary of sounds and words even before they understand their meaning.
Clapping along to songs  or rhymes helps children hear the syllables in word and improves their motor skills at the same time.  Finger plays are often done with rhymes and this helps develop those fine motor skills required for writing. The content of songs and rhymes add to your child’s general knowledge while promoting comprehension and verbal memory.

Incorporate singing into your daily activities—it’s fun! Don’t be embarrassed to sing with your child.  They love to hear the sound of your voice.  Remember, you are your child’s first teacher, and he or she loves learning from you!

Keep learning new songs or action rhymes by attending storytimes at your local library where rhymes, finger plays and songs are incorporated into the reading activities. Look for OC Libraries’ Toddler Totes to take home with you.  These themed kits have activities and nursery rhymes to go along with the books inside.

Here are a few recommendations for books and books with CDs that encourage singing and rhyming. Ask at your local library for more recommendations, or find additional titles under Booklists here on OC Public Libraries Book Talk Blog.

This Little Piggy : Lap Songs, Finger Plays, Clapping Games, and Pantomime Rhymes by Jane Yolen. This is the perfect book for babies and toddlers. You’ll find a rhyme or chant for every purpose in this comprehensive anthology of well-known and not so familiar rhymes, lap songs and clapping games. A bonus CD features favorites like “Hickory, Dickory Doc,” “Miss Mary Mack” and “I’m a Little Tea Pot.” Whimsical illustrations accompany the text.

Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand.  Puff, puff, toot, toot off you’ll go as this little train stops for a menagerie of passengers from elephants to kangaroos!  Your pre-schoolers will love this repetitive story that builds as each animal boards the train.

How do You Wokka-Wokka? by Elizabeth Bluemle.  With nonsense rhymes and lively illustrations your kids will respond to this book with some nonsense sounds of their own. You’ll all be up moving by the time you reach the end of this tale of a neighborhood celebration!

Little White Duck by Walt Whippo; music by Bernard Zaritzky. Narrated by a little brown mouse with a guitar, this is the story of a duck who causes a big commmotion in the pond. Raffi sings this song on his album Everything Grows. You probably won’t be able to get it out of your head once you learn it.  But it’s such a fun book to read (sing) together that it will become a favorite.

Sandra Boynton has several song books with pictures, lyrics, musical scores and CD. These are story poems with full color  illustrations by Boynton. The music and lyrics are sophisticated and like listening show-tunes from a Broadway production with a little bee-bop thrown in. Check out Rinocerous Tap with musician Michael Ford or Philadelphia Chickens with singles by artists like Meryl Streep, Patti Lupon and the Bacon Brothers. The whole family will appreciate songs like ‘tickle time,’ ‘the crabby song’ and ‘faraway cookies.’ Boyton’s humorous lyrics and illustrations make this a favorite for anytime—in the car, on vacation or just dancin' around the house.

This is the third in a series of Book Talk articles about books that help parents get their children ready to read by engaging in interactive everyday activities. These recommendations are based on “Every Child Ready to Read®@Your Library®,”which is a program of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association. For more information about early literacy, go to

No comments: