Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sing a book

One of my favorite songs from Sesame Street is "Sing," written by Joe Raposo.

Sing a song.
Sing out loud.
Sing out strong."

You have that song in your head now, don't you?

I sing songs with my son all the time, and I also sing books. Just about any picture book can easily be turned into a song. I find it to be a great read aloud technique, and we both enjoy the experience. The tune is completely irrelevant, I make up something new every time I sing.

Books that have worked well as songs (for us, at least) include:
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
  • Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Big Dog Little Dog by P.D. Eastman
...and too many others to count.

Singing was particularly effective when my son was a baby, and I used to sing all of his longer board books to him. It also worked well when he was an antsy toddler. He still likes it now, even though he's older, and every night he'll tell me which books he wants me to sing.

I think I have a terrible voice, and I'm quite shy about using it normally, but my son doesn't mind no matter how off key I am. I tried singing my made-up musical version of Freight Train in a storytime last week, and to my surprise, it actually worked quite well. I'll have to try it again.

If there's a small child in your life, try singing them a book. Just remember, as the wise people at Sesame Street would tell you:

"Don't worry that it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear.
Sing a song."


  1. Well now I'm going to have THAT song stuck in my head all day, Susan. Thanks a LOT! OK, but seriously, I think this is a great idea. I've often wondered why song isn't used more in teaching. Think about it. We can remember all sorts of songs and jingles from our childhoods - if more facts had been tossed into those, we would remember those, too. Of course there was Schoolhouse Rock. And I still spell Mississippi using a song from some little educational TV bit. But anyway, I like the idea of singing picture books. Thanks!

  2. What a great tip, Susan! I'm totally going to try this at storytime and recommend it at our Every Child Ready to Read workshops. Fun!

  3. I love that song, too. And I love singing to the kids, who don't care what I sound like! We sing a few of our picture books (Duck in a Truck, anyone?), fewer now that we read longer books--but I'm going to try it with one today! Thanks!

  4. There are plenty of books that are MEANT to be sung. Maurice Sendak's "Nutshell Library" books all have Carole King tunes to go with them, and there are a whole string of books by Mary Ann Hoberman and Nadine Westcott (such as "Lady With the Alligator Purse") that are based on songs.

    I like the comment about your voice best. I tell every parent the kids don't CARE how well you sing--but you will sing better for your kids than any other audience!