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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
Wed, Oct 23, 10:30am - 11:00am
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Oct 23, 10:30am - 11:00am
St. John - Children's Program Room

Wed, Oct 23, 10:30am - 11:00am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Wed, Oct 23, 10:30am - 11:30am
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Oct 23, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Hobart - Large Meeting Room

Thu, Oct 24, 10:30am - 11:00am
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Sat, Oct 26, 10:30am - 11:00am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Sat, Oct 26, 11:00am - 12:00pm
St. John - Large Meeting Room

Mon, Oct 28, 10:30am - 11:00am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Oct 28, 10:30am - 11:30am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Mon, Oct 28, 10:30am - 11:15am
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Oct 28, 11:00am - 11:30am
Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room

Mon, Oct 28, 11:30am - 12:30pm
Munster - Children's Program Room

Mon, Oct 28, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A

Mon, Oct 28, 6:00pm - 6:30pm
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Tue, Oct 29, 10:00am - 10:45am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Oct 29, 11:15am - 12:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Oct 29, 6:30pm - 7:15pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room

Thu, Oct 31, 10:00am - 11:30am
Munster - Large Meeting Room

Fri, Nov 01, 10:30am - 11:00am
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Nov 04, 10:30am - 11:15am
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Mon, Nov 04, 1:00pm - 1:45pm
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Nov 04, 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Mon, Nov 04, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
St. John - Children's Tables

Tue, Nov 05, 10:00am - 10:45am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 05, 10:30am - 11:00am
St. John - Children's Program Room
This event is full

Tue, Nov 05, 10:30am - 11:30am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Tue, Nov 05, 11:15am - 12:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 05, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 05, 6:30pm - 7:00pm
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 06, 10:30am - 11:30am
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
This event is full

Wed, Nov 06, 10:30am - 11:00am
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 06, 10:30am - 11:00am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 06, 10:30am - 11:00am
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 06, 10:30am - 11:30am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 06, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 06, 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Thu, Nov 07, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room

Thu, Nov 07, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Munster Library - Children's Area

Fri, Nov 08, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
St. John - Large Meeting Room

Sat, Nov 09, 10:30am - 11:00am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

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

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

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

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

Mon, Nov 11, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Merrillville - Meeting Room B

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

Mon, Nov 11, 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Nov 11, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Hobart - Large Meeting Room

Tue, Nov 12, 10:00am - 10:45am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 12, 10:30am - 11:15am
Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A

Tue, Nov 12, 10:30am - 11:30am
St. John - Children's Program Room

Tue, Nov 12, 10:30am - 11:00am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 12, 11:00am - 12:30pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room

Tue, Nov 12, 11:15am - 12:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 12, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
St. John - Children's Program Room

Tue, Nov 12, 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 12, 6:00pm - 6:30pm
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 13, 10:15am - 10:45am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 13, 10:30am - 11:00am
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room
This event is full

Wed, Nov 13, 10:30am - 11:00am
St. John - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 13, 10:30am - 11:30am
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 13, 10:30am - 11:00am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 13, 11:15am - 11:45am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 13, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Thu, Nov 14, 10:30am - 11:00am
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Thu, Nov 14, 10:30am - 11:00am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Thu, Nov 14, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
St. John - Children's Program Room

Fri, Nov 15, 10:30am - 11:00am
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Sat, Nov 16, 11:00am - 12:00pm
DS: Children's Area

Sat, Nov 16, 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room

Sat, Nov 16, 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Hobart Library - Children's Area

Mon, Nov 18, 10:30am - 11:15am
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Mon, Nov 18, 10:30am - 11:00am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Nov 18, 1:00pm - 1:45pm
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Nov 18, 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Mon, Nov 18, 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Nov 18, 6:30pm - 7:30pm
St. John - Children's Program Room

Tue, Nov 19, 10:00am - 10:45am
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 19, 10:30am - 11:00am
St. John - Children's Program Room
This event is full

Tue, Nov 19, 10:30am - 11:00am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 19, 10:30am - 11:30am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Tue, Nov 19, 11:00am - 11:45am
Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room

Tue, Nov 19, 11:15am - 12:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 19, 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 19, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room

Tue, Nov 19, 6:30pm - 7:00pm
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 20, 10:15am - 10:45am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 20, 10:30am - 11:30am
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 20, 10:30am - 11:30am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 20, 10:30am - 11:00am
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 20, 10:30am - 11:00am
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 20, 11:15am - 11:45am
Dyer-Schererville - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 20, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Family Events
Wed, Oct 23, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room

Wed, Oct 23, 6:30pm - 7:45pm
St. John - Large Meeting Room

Wed, Oct 23, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Hobart - Large Meeting Room

Thu, Oct 24, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Meeting Room

Fri, Oct 25, 1:00pm - 3:15pm
Highland - Meeting Room A

Sat, Oct 26, 11:00am - 12:00pm
St. John - Large Meeting Room

Mon, Oct 28, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Merrillville - Meeting Room A

Mon, Oct 28, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Highland - Meeting Room A

Mon, Oct 28, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Mon, Oct 28, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A

Mon, Oct 28, 6:00pm - 6:30pm
Hobart - Children's Program Room

Mon, Oct 28, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Munster - Large Meeting Room

Canceled
Tue, Oct 29, 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Merrillville

Tue, Oct 29, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Griffith-Calumet Twp - Meeting Room

Sat, Nov 02, 1:00pm - 3:30pm
Highland - Meeting Room A

Mon, Nov 04, 10:30am - 11:30am
Munster - Children's Program Room

Mon, Nov 04, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Merrillville - Meeting Room A

Mon, Nov 04, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
St. John - Children's Tables

Canceled
Tue, Nov 05, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Merrillville

Wed, Nov 06, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Children's Program Room

Wed, Nov 06, 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Cedar Lake - Children's Programming Room

Thu, Nov 07, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room

Thu, Nov 07, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Fri, Nov 08, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
St. John - Large Meeting Room

Sat, Nov 09, 10:00am - 11:00am
Highland - Meeting Room A

Mon, Nov 11, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Merrillville - Meeting Room A

Mon, Nov 11, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Cedar Lake - Meeting Room A

Mon, Nov 11, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Hobart - Large Meeting Room

Tue, Nov 12, 11:00am - 12:30pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room

Canceled
Tue, Nov 12, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Merrillville

Tue, Nov 12, 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Wed, Nov 13, 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Merrillville - Children's Programming Room

Thu, Nov 14, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
St. John - Children's Program Room

Thu, Nov 14, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Highland - Children's Programming Room

Sat, Nov 16, 11:00am - 12:00pm
DS: Children's Area

Sat, Nov 16, 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Lake Station-New Chicago - Large Meeting Room

Sat, Nov 16, 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Hobart Library - Children's Area

Mon, Nov 18, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Merrillville - Meeting Room B

Mon, Nov 18, 6:30pm - 7:30pm
St. John - Children's Program Room

Canceled
Tue, Nov 19, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Merrillville

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