Ready, Set, Read!

The ABC's of being a children's Librarian

Childhood Literacy Quick Tips

on August 22, 2012

#1 – Songs That Encourage Literacy

Baby in diaper looking attentively into the book Stock Photo - 9476331

Literacy for children goes beyond being able to just print their name on a piece of paper. Literacy, the formation of language, actually begins the first day that a baby is born. From day one, babies are sponges, absorbing everything they hear and see around them. It is important to introduce your children to language, through speech and through books, early on. One of the things I love about the baby storytimes I hold at the library is seeing the developmental progress of the babies from week to week. Sometimes it takes a few months, but in a blink of an eye, a child starts mouthing along to the words of a song, or their ears perk up and a smile forms when they hear a favorite song being introduced. This is especially effective when parents repeat these songs at home.

Simple children’s verses are gateways into reading and literacy. Although we all know and love The Itsy Bitsy Spider for its simplicity and hand motions, this song is actually quite layered. This song is actually a full-bodied story with a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. It has a protagonist who faces an obstacle that it must overcome. The song itself only takes a half-minute to sing, but the lessons it teaches are very valuable. Children learn the structure of a story and they learn about events of the day (rain = water and wetness the sun = dry and warmth).  When children learn about the structure of a story, that there is a beginning, a middle and an end, they learn to anticipate what will happen next when they are reading or hearing a story. Other songs that work in the same way are:

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Jack & Jill
  • Little Miss Muffet
  • Humpty Dumpty

If your child is already familiar with these songs, play around with it. Ask them what happens first, what then follows? What would they do in that situation? Questions like these help children not only understand the story, but also help them develop analytical skills by decoding the message of the song.

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