by Terry Gibbons, youth services librarian at SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch

Singing with children can be a rewarding bonding experience but did you know singing also helps your child learn social skills, language, and will get them ready to learn to read?

Every Child Ready to Read, the early literacy initiative developed by The Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC) has identified five practices to help get your child ready to read: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. These activities are easy to do with children every day starting at the very earliest of ages. What could be more fun than to sing to and with your child?

We incorporate singing in our children’s programs here at the Library. Babytime offers parents and caregivers the opportunity to sing to their babies in soothing nursery and lapsit rhymes. As children learn to sing with us at Toddler Time and Storytime we add longer, catchy, and sometimes silly songs often involving actions and dancing. Songs that everyone can continue to sing and share when they leave the library.

Sing why?

  • Singing develops language skills as it slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words.
  • Singing helps children develop listening skills and the ability to hear the rhythms and rhymes of language.
  • Songs introduce children to new words and concepts they would not hear in everyday conversation.
  • Singing is a wonderful bonding experience for child and parent/caregiver.
  • Sing because it is FUN. Always a blast for children and for adults can be the ultimate stress reliever.

Sing how?

  • Sing with your children often and everyday. Don’t worry about how you sound when you sing, if you sing with a smile and enthusiasm your child will love your voice.
  • Use gestures and movements to act out the words of songs, this will help your child understand the meaning of what is being sung. We do this every time we sing “Wheels on the Bus,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” and Head, “Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”
  • Sing a familiar song or nursery rhyme, and pause at the end of the verse for your child to fill in the blank.
  • Clap, jump, and twirl to songs to improve fine motor skills. Clapping also helps children hear the different syllables in words.
  • Sing songs over and over again – repetition reinforces learning!
  • Babies benefit from singing as much as toddlers do. Peek a Boo, I See You will always get a smile.

Sing where?

  • In the car while driving to errands and on long road trips.
  • At home, doing chores, working in the garden, taking a walk, playing in the yard — anywhere you and your child spend time together.
  • Lullabies in the nursery. Sing your baby to sleep with gentle, soothing lullabies.
  • At the library. Start early, singing at Babytime is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby and to socialize with other parents and caregivers. Soon your toddlers will learn to sing on their own, adding actions and movements, so proud of themselves.

Sing what?

  • Traditional children’s songs and nursery rhymes are perfect, but if rock or country is your thing go for it. If you enjoy it, your child will too.
  • Sing a book! Plenty of picture books are based on traditional songs and nursery rhymes. Look for book versions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” “What a Wonderful World,” “Old MacDonald Had A Truck,” and “The Seals on the Bus” are favorite books I sing at Toddler Time.
  • Almost anything can be made into a song! As you go through the day, you and your child can make up little songs — making breakfast, getting dressed, picking up toys.
  • Sing the alphabet song to learn about the letters.

SCLSNJ Picture Books You Can Sing! with Your Child