Early Literacy Tips

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  1. Songs & rhymes help develop early literacy skills by breaking words down into smaller parts so that children can hear these parts and pay attention to the rhythm of language. Music can slow down the words, making it easier for the children to understand the words and patterns they’re hearing and singing. They notice how the words are alike and different. Songs introduce new vocabulary words in a manner that makes them memorable, and did you know, this “remembering” exercises the part of their brain that helps them with math & problem solving when they enter school. Who knew the power of music??  Singing also helps your child develop listening skills, which helps them get ready to learn and also enjoy the stories you read aloud.


  1. It’s never too early to sing to/with your child, and if you simply cannot sing, chants and rhythmic raps are the way to go. There are dozens of fun & entertaining children’s music CDs, as well as almost 200 Listen & Read titles (books with CDs included, often with music). Babies hear and respond to music, and are drawn to oral language through rhythm, repetition & rhyme. The combination of these elements helps babies & young children retain language. For babies, the language is part of their “word bank”, and they will use this bank when they learn to talk; it’s up to you to fill this bank full. Talkers should be adding words to their word bank regularly, and singing helps accomplish this.


  1. When can you sing? Any time at all! During bath time, try “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat”. Sing during snacks or meals–how about “C is for Cookie”, or “On Top of Spaghetti. Sing in the car, and of course sing “Wheels on the Bus”. Singing can be a very sensory experience when you’re changing baby’s diaper. You are face to face with your baby and hands on. The most important thing isn’t whether you can carry a tune, but that you have fun while you’re singing, chanting and interacting with your little ones. When possible, add movement, such as finger plays, hand clapping, finger snapping, or with the very young, move their little legs and arms. This helps their energetic brains retain information more effectively.


  1. CCPL has a number of musical picture books. Nursery rhymes & songs can be sung while “reading” the print book, helping children connect the words they are singing to the printed words in the text; it helps them understand the printed words mean something.


Following is a list of musical picture books; it is not exhaustive, but a good selection of what is available from CCPL.



We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Ten in the Den by Jon Butler

Miss Mary Mack by MaryAnn Hoberman

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

Rah Rah Radishes by April Pulley Sayre

Ant! Ant! Ant! An Insect Chant by April Pulley Sayre

Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed by Ellen Christelow




Down by the Station by Jennifer Riggs Vetter or Will Hillendbrand

Baby Beluga by Raffi

Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak

Wheels on the Bus by Jane Cabrera or Raffi

Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz

If You’re Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera, Anna McQuinn or Raffi.


The Wee Sing Listen and Read books with accompanying CDs are perennial kid favorites. The songs are memorable, the lyrics are fun, and they are a great addition to any car ride, with or without the book. Long ago my family of three little girls listed to Wee Sing music on cassette tapes and we not only memorized the songs but we wore those tapes out. Wee Sing books (with CDs) are available in a variety of themes such as Mother Goose, Play, Around the World, Fingerplays, ABC’s, Counting and many more.


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