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A child playing with musical instruments

Singing Teaches Early Literacy

Singing with your child is a fun way to help your child get ready to read. Music helps children hear the smaller sounds of words and builds vocabulary.

How Can Singing Develop Early Literacy Skills?

  • Children develop listening skills and hear the rhythms and rhymes of language.

  • Children get an understanding of the smaller sounds in words because singing slows down language, and often songs have different notes for each syllable.

  • Clapping or playing instruments along with rhythms improves fine motor skills and also helps children hear syllables.

  • Children learn new words and concepts they wouldn't normally hear in everyday conversation, adding to their general knowledge.

  • Music helps children remember things longer because it activates a different part of the brain than regular spoken language.

What Kind of Singing?

Children learn best by doing activities with you. Make it fun and don't feel self-conscious about your singing voice – your child loves your voice and loves hearing you sing!

  • Sing anything you enjoy and are comfortable with: traditional songs, nursery rhymes, and any song you like, including rock or pop! If you enjoy it, your child will, too.

  • Sing throughout your day: learn or make up songs about routines, like cleaning up or brushing teeth – songs make ordinary tasks more fun!

  • Sing songs with rhyming words, silly words, and long stretched-out words.

  • Use the language you know best. They need to hear you in the language you're most fluent in.

Putting it Into Action

  • Need song ideas? Check out our catalog stream kids' music from Hoopla.

  • Get up and move! Children develop motor skills as they clap, jump, twirl, and play instruments. (You can make simple instruments: a plastic bottle filled with rice becomes a maraca shaker, a round oatmeal container becomes a drum, and a rectangle tissue box wrapped with rubber bands can be a guitar!)

    A child playing a home-made tissue box guitar
  • Sing a book! (Check our Songs and Rhymes section of picture books or make up a simple tune for one of your child’s favorite books.)

  • Sing songs again and again (and again) – repetition reinforces learning!

Examples of using singing to build early literacy skills:

  • Are there any new words in a song? Talking about their meanings afterwards will build vocabulary.

  • Sing songs slowly: songs often break up the syllables of words by assigning a different note to each, as in "Are You Sleeping?/Frère Jacques."

  • Sing songs quickly! Changing up the tempo will help children hear the small sounds of words differently. For example, you can "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" gently, then swiftly down the stream . . .

  • Make up new verses to familiar songs like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" together; this develops narrative (story-telling) skills.

  • Sing a familiar song to a different tune: it will emphasize the smaller sounds even further. For example, sing the Alphabet song to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." It breaks up the letters LMNOP so your child can hear them individually.

Sources:

Saroj Ghoting
Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition
Storytime Katie: Babies Need Words Every Day
Library Bonanza: Early Literacy Talking Points
Story Time Secrets: Babies Need Words Every Day

Preschool Events
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Mar 26, 10:00am - 10:45am
This event is full

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Mar 26, 10:30am - 11:30am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Mar 26, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room
Tue, Mar 26, 6:30pm - 7:00pm

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Mar 27, 10:30am - 11:00am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Wed, Mar 27, 10:30am - 11:00am

Dyer-Schererville - Meeting Room Whole (A & B)
Wed, Mar 27, 10:30am - 11:30am

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Mar 27, 10:30am - 11:30am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Wed, Mar 27, 10:30am - 11:00am

Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room
Wed, Mar 27, 11:00am - 11:30am

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Mar 28, 10:00am - 11:00am
This event is full

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Mar 28, 10:30am - 11:15am

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 01, 10:30am - 11:00am

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 01, 10:30am - 11:00am

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 01, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 01, 1:30pm - 2:15pm

St. John - Children's Section
Mon, Apr 01, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 02, 10:00am - 10:45am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 02, 10:30am - 11:30am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 02, 10:30am - 11:30am

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 02, 4:00pm - 5:00pm

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 02, 6:30pm - 7:00pm

Highland
Wed, Apr 03, 10:30am - 11:00am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Wed, Apr 03, 10:30am - 11:30am

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 03, 10:30am - 11:30am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 03, 10:30am - 11:00am

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Wed, Apr 03, 10:30am - 11:00am

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 03, 6:00pm - 6:45pm

Rescheduled
Highland
Thu, Apr 04, 10:30am - 11:00am
New date Wednesday, April 03, 10:30am - 11:00am

Munster Library - Children's Area
Thu, Apr 04, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Apr 04, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Fri, Apr 05, 10:30am - 11:00am

Highland - Meeting Room A
Fri, Apr 05, 10:30am - 11:30am

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Fri, Apr 05, 11:30am - 12:00pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Sat, Apr 06, 10:30am - 11:00am

St. John - Entry
Mon, Apr 08, 10:00am - 8:30pm

Munster - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 08, 10:30am - 11:30am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 08, 10:30am - 11:00am

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 08, 10:30am - 11:15am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 08, 11:30am - 12:30pm

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 08, 1:30pm - 2:15pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 09, 10:00am - 10:45am

St. John - Entry
Tue, Apr 09, 10:00am - 8:30pm

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 09, 10:30am - 11:30am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 09, 10:30am - 11:00am

Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A
Tue, Apr 09, 10:30am - 11:30am

Canceled
Lake Station-New Chicago
Tue, Apr 09, 11:00am - 12:30pm

Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 09, 11:00am - 11:45am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 09, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 09, 1:30pm - 2:15pm

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 09, 6:00pm - 6:30pm

St. John - Entry
Wed, Apr 10, 10:00am - 8:30pm

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 10, 10:15am - 10:45am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Wed, Apr 10, 10:30am - 11:00am

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 10, 10:30am - 11:00am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Wed, Apr 10, 10:30am - 11:00am

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 10, 10:30am - 11:30am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 10, 11:15am - 11:45am

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Apr 11, 10:00am - 11:00am

St. John - Entry
Thu, Apr 11, 10:00am - 8:30pm

St. John - Entry
Thu, Apr 11, 10:00am - 8:15pm

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Apr 11, 10:30am - 11:15am

Dyer-Schererville - Meeting Room Whole (A & B)
Thu, Apr 11, 10:30am - 11:00am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Thu, Apr 11, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

St. John - Entry
Fri, Apr 12, 10:00am - 6:00pm

St. John - Entry
Sat, Apr 13, 9:00am - 5:00pm

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Sat, Apr 13, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room
Sat, Apr 13, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 15, 10:30am - 11:00am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 15, 10:30am - 11:00am

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 15, 10:30am - 11:00am

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 15, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 15, 1:30pm - 2:15pm

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 15, 1:30pm - 2:15pm

St. John - Large Meeting Room
Mon, Apr 15, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 16, 10:00am - 10:45am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 16, 10:30am - 11:30am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 16, 10:30am - 11:30am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 16, 10:30am - 11:00am

Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 16, 11:00am - 11:45am

Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 16, 1:30pm - 2:15pm

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 16, 4:00pm - 5:00pm

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 16, 6:30pm - 7:00pm

Canceled
Highland
Wed, Apr 17, 10:30am - 11:00am

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Fri, Apr 19, 10:30am - 11:00am

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Fri, Apr 19, 11:30am - 12:00pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Sat, Apr 20, 10:30am - 11:00am

Children's Area Dyer/Schererville
Sat, Apr 20, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Munster - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 22, 10:30am - 11:30am

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Mon, Apr 22, 10:30am - 11:15am

Munster - Children's Program Room
Mon, Apr 22, 11:30am - 12:30pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 23, 10:00am - 10:45am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 23, 10:30am - 11:30am

Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 23, 11:00am - 11:45am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 23, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Munster - Children's Program Room
Wed, Apr 24, 10:30am - 11:00am

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 24, 10:30am - 11:00am

St. John - Children's Program Room
Wed, Apr 24, 10:30am - 11:00am

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 24, 10:30am - 11:30am

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Apr 25, 10:00am - 11:00am

Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Apr 25, 10:30am - 11:15am

Family Events
Merrillville - Meeting Room B
Tue, Mar 26, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
This event is full

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Mar 26, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

St. John - Large Meeting Room
Wed, Mar 27, 6:00pm - 7:45pm

St. John - Large Meeting Room
Thu, Mar 28, 10:30am - 12:30pm

Community Room - Community Room
Thu, Mar 28, 5:00pm - 8:00pm

St. John - Children's Section
Mon, Apr 01, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Merrillville - Meeting Room B
Tue, Apr 02, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
This event is full

Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room
Wed, Apr 03, 10:30am - 12:00pm

Highland - Meeting Room A
Wed, Apr 03, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Wed, Apr 03, 6:00pm - 6:45pm

Merrillville - Children's Programming Room
Fri, Apr 05, 10:30am - 11:30am

Dyer-Schererville
Mon, Apr 08, 10:00am - 8:30pm

Griffith/Calumet Twp Branch - Library
Mon, Apr 08, 10:00am - 8:00pm

Highland Library tables
Mon, Apr 08, 10:00am - 8:30pm

St. John - Entry
Mon, Apr 08, 10:00am - 8:30pm

Munster - Large Meeting Room
Mon, Apr 08, 10:30am - 11:30am

Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A
Mon, Apr 08, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A
Mon, Apr 08, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

St. John - Entry
Tue, Apr 09, 10:00am - 8:30pm

Hobart Branch - Public seating area
Tue, Apr 09, 10:00am - 11:00am

Canceled
Lake Station-New Chicago
Tue, Apr 09, 11:00am - 12:30pm

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Tue, Apr 09, 6:00pm - 6:30pm

Merrillville - Meeting Room B
Tue, Apr 09, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
This event is full

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 09, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

St. John - Entry
Wed, Apr 10, 10:00am - 8:30pm

Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A
Wed, Apr 10, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Munster - Large Meeting Room
Wed, Apr 10, 2:00pm - 7:00pm

St. John - Entry
Thu, Apr 11, 10:00am - 8:30pm

St. John - Entry
Thu, Apr 11, 10:00am - 8:15pm

St. John - Children's Program Room
Thu, Apr 11, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Meeting Room
Thu, Apr 11, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Thu, Apr 11, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

St. John - Entry
Fri, Apr 12, 10:00am - 6:00pm

St. John - Entry
Sat, Apr 13, 9:00am - 5:00pm

Hobart - Children's Program Room
Sat, Apr 13, 10:00am - 10:45am

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Sat, Apr 13, 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room
Sat, Apr 13, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

St. John - Large Meeting Room
Mon, Apr 15, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Griffith-Calumet Twp - Meeting Room
Mon, Apr 15, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Merrillville - Meeting Room B
Tue, Apr 16, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
This event is full

Hobart Branch - Public area
Thu, Apr 18, All day

Children's Area Dyer/Schererville
Sat, Apr 20, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A
Mon, Apr 22, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Merrillville - Meeting Room B
Tue, Apr 23, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
This event is full

Highland - Children's Programming Room
Tue, Apr 23, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

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