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Building Literacy through Singing

We clap and sing hello, we clap and sing hello! Did you know that singing is one of the five early literacy practices that you can engage in with your child? Along with reading, writing, talking, and playing – singing is a valuable (and fun!) way to help your child learn how to read, starting from birth!

So, how do songs help teach my child how to read?

  • Singing songs promotes phonological awareness (an awareness of the different parts of each word). Breaking down and sounding out words is an important skill when learning how to read; singing helps children achieve that.
  • Songs can help build your child’s vocabulary. Many songs have words in them that you wouldn’t necessarily use on a regular basis. For example: how many times do you talk about wheels and wipers (“Wheels on the Bus”) and baking cakes (“Patty Cake”) or use the words “merrily” (“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”) or “stout” (“I’m a Little Teapot”) in daily conversation? (Need a refresher on some of these old favorites? Check out the video below.)
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition! You may not want to sing the same song over and over again, but research shows that repeating songs and stories will help develop and strengthen language skills and foster a love of reading.

How can I use songs in my day-to-day life?

  • Make songs a special and fun ritual by singing them at the same time every day – like when your young one is waking up in the morning, before naptime, at mealtime, or during a diaper change. For example, wake your child up with “Wake Up Hands” (as seen in the Good Morning/Hello/Wake Up Songs YouTube video below!) and soon they’ll expect it and will (hopefully) enjoy waking up to that song.
  • Use your imagination and create songs about day-to-day activities if you’re at a loss for a song to sing – you are much more creative than you think!
  • Most importantly – don’t feel like you can’t sing if you don’t have the best voice. Young ones don’t care whether you can hit the high notes or not – they’ll appreciate the songs no matter what!


As part of our Building Literacy series, we have put together some videos with songs that range from hello/good morning songs to old favorites to fingerplays that you can sing to your child! These are songs that are used in storytimes, but can be used in your daily life, too. These songs are widely shared and used by different librarians, and some of Miss Julia’s favorite blogs to frequent are: Jbrary, Mel’s Desk, and Storytime Katie! Truly one of the best parts about being a children’s librarian is the amount of sharing and encouraging that happens in the library community, in the name of early literacy!

Singing can be fun, silly, and playful, but you’re also helping your child develop important early literacy skills in the process. Remember: don’t hesitate to sing to your child, your voice is helping them to develop important early literacy skills!

For more information on early literacy, don’t forget to check out the rest of our Building Literacy blog posts.

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