The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library

The Power of Song: How Singing Benefits Early Childhood Development

Posted 11/24/20 by April S

Did you know the simple act of singing can have positive effects on children?

According to a five-year study conducted by USC (University of Southern California):

“Music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills.”

If you think about it, there’s a lot going on in a child’s brain when they’re listening to music, playing an instrument, humming a tune or singing a song. When children learn to play music, they develop important motor skills. When they sing songs, they learn to focus, listen carefully and repeat what they’ve heard.

Just like reading to your child, singing songs with them helps to boost their vocabulary and language skills. The act of singing songs helps children pick up on different sounds within words. And this newfound skill helps young children sound out written words when they’re learning how to read.

Recently, I came across a very interesting brief put out by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child entitled The Science of Early Childhood Development. The brief highlights the fact that the early years of a child’s life (birth to five years) are critical, because this is the time when so many new pathways in the brain are being formed. And the human brain is the most flexible early in life, with its capacity for change decreasing with age.

Obviously, children continue learning after age five. However, experts emphasize the importance of integrating activities promoting early literacy skills into the daily routine for children before Kindergarten.

It’s essential parents and caregivers take advantage of the time period when human brains are the most flexible or plastic. Talk, sing, read, write and play with your child. These five simple acts will encourage the development of healthy early literacy skills.

By far, my favorite activity lately is reading sing-along storybooks to my little one. Her face lights up, she smiles from ear to ear and sings right along.

When people think of sing-along books or rhyming stories the first thought may be nursery rhymes. However, there are so many books that lend themselves to singing along during storytime. Explore the selections below - read them, sing them and have fun!

Sing-Along Stories

Books for Babies and Toddlers:
Cover of Moo, Baa, La La La!

Moo, Baa, La La La!
By Sandra Boynton

A rhyming book with silly animal characters your baby or toddler will love.

Cover of Tickle Time!

Tickle Time!
By Sandra Boynton

A fun book that invites tickles, followed by giggles.

Cover of Sing with Me!

Sing with Me!
By Naoko Stoop

Popular nursery rhymes are brought to life with charming animal characters and beautiful illustrations.

Cover of 10 Little Kisses

10 Little Kisses
By Taylor Garland

A fun sing-along counting book with rhyming text, animals displaying affection.

Picture Books for Preschool - Grade 2:
Cover of There's a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake

There's a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake
By Loren Long

The colorful illustrations will draw your child in, and the rhythmic nature of the text will encourage your child to sing-along.

Cover of We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands

We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands
By Rafael Lopez

A beautifully illustrated adaptation of the timeless spiritual with a positive message of unity.

Cover of Miss Mary Mack: A Hand-Clapping Rhyme

Miss Mary Mack: A Hand-Clapping Rhyme
By Mary Ann Hoberman

Your child will not be able to resist singing along to this whimsical version of the favorite hand clapping rhyme.

Cover of Space Song Rocket Ride

Space Song Rocket Ride
By Sunny Scribens

Imaginative story about a group of children and their pet owl going on an imaginary rocket ride around the universe.

Cover of That’s What I’d Do

That’s What I’d Do
By Jewel

A soothing lullaby celebrating a mother’s love and all the things she would do for child.

Cover of Just the Two of Us

Just the Two of Us
By Will Smith

Artistic illustrations compliment this story celebrating the bond between father and son.

To find more books like the ones featured in this blog post, search the Library catalog using a combination of popular terms like board books, picture books, stories in rhyme and songs.

Catalog Tip: To limit search results, try using phrases in quotes combined with Boolean operators like AND (in all caps).

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Learn more about music and its connection to the development of early literacy skills.