Singing = Early Literacy

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If you’ve ever attended a storytime, you know librarians do a lot of singing. We sing loudly and proudly regardless of our abilities to carry a tune. We ask the children to sing with us. We encourage parents and caregivers to sing along, even if they’re not confident in their musical abilities. And we bring in professional musicians to sing to and with our children whenever we can.

There’s an evidence-based reason for all of this melodic and rhythmic effort. Singing and listening to music has amazing benefits for children’s mental, linguistic, and literacy development. Singing helps infants pay attention to their grown-ups’ voices. The rhyming scheme in most songs helps little ones develop phonological awareness, or their ability to hear and understand the smaller sounds that make up words. Listening to repetitive rhythms helps children develop their attention spans and listening abilities.

When you attend a storytime, we will encourage you to sing along so your child can get all these benefits. But we’re also encouraging your participation so that you can expand your own repertoire of children’s songs. Most of us go decades between singing songs when we’re kids and singing songs to our kids. Then when we want to serenade our children, we can only think of a small handful of standbys that become so old and tired that we’re sick of them by the third note.

Never fear! We’ve got some suggestions for songs that may be new to you (or that you might have forgotten) that are sure to revamp your ability to sing with your kiddos all day long. Each song title links to a YouTube video so you can hear how the song goes. And of course, attend storytimes to learn even more new songs and keep your mental playlist fresh.


In the Car

Let’s Go Driving

Elmo and Taye Diggs sang this version years ago and it’s still a family favorite.

Going for a Ride

Rockabye Beats, one of our local favorites, sings this amazing song that’s perfect for when you’re on a road trip or stuck in traffic. (The whole video’s great, but the song actually starts around 5:46.)

photo f child and adult going for a ride


In the Bath

This is the Way

Change the activity at each step of your child’s bath routine. Super Simple Songs is also a great resources for learning tons of new children’s songs.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

You can drop bath toys into the water as the frogs jump off their log. Also, Little Baby Bum, the producers of this video, was started by a couple in the UK to entertain their own child and has a huge repertoire of children’s favorites.


Before Bed

You probably know plenty of bedtime lullabies, but here are a couple of classics that are sure to get your little one yawning.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz

Stay Awake Don’t Rest Your Head from Mary Poppins

What a Wonderful World Here’s a version of the song that Louis Armstrong made famous, originally written by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele.


Looking for more ideas about how to incorporate songs into your day? Sing along with books! Many of the authors in our booklist of favorites have written or illustrated multiple musical books, so if you find one you like, look for more by that author. And you can always ask a children’s librarian for more suggestions!

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