I love music, and one of the nicest trends I have seen over the last few years is illustrators taking songs that I love and turning them into picture books. Music is hugely beneficial for children’s language development.

Music helps us to:

  • Helps children learn rhythm in speech patterns and affects how they enunciate words.
  • Listening to a song, and then singing it, builds memory and develops different areas of the brain.
  • Exposes children to rich language in context. Songs and rhymes are full of uncommon words and language devices like:
    • Alliteration – repeated use of the first sound in a word. (Dingle Dangle Scarecrow)
    • Onomatopoeia – words that are used to mimic a sound e.g. BAM, meow, SNAP!, etc. (Wheels on the Bus – beep, swish)
    • Rhyming – repetitive use of the same end sound in words (Twinkle Twinkle – are/star)
  • Music/Rhyming develops thinking skills which lays a foundation for lifelong learning.
  • Music and singing are powerful tools in soothing children and providing comfort and safety.
  • Children’s language skills begin to develop before they start to speak so singing, rhyming, and reading with your children from birth is the best possible basis for literacy development and for them to be ready to learn.

The books I’m talking about today, ones that use song lyrics as the text of the book combine the benefits of music with the benefits of reading and give us the opportunity to share these songs with children.

Books

Coat of Many Colours by Dolly Parton

I’m a big fan of Country music and Dolly Parton and this book from her song is something I can share with children. There is a message within about bullying and tolerance and being rich without money but for me the best part is that after you read it you can listen to the song, or listen to the song while you read it. Dolly Parton is a huge advocate of literacy

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton

Puff the Magic Dragon lives by the sea…most of us know the song and I love this one. It’s sweet and sad and a great book for children who have big imaginations. I love children’s reactions when you sing them a picture book – it’s something completely new for so many of them and I love to do that with this book when we do the Dragon Storytime theme.

What A Wonderful World by Tim Hopgood (based on the song sung by Louis Armstrong)

I really like Tom Hopgood’s books and this song works so well illustrated…I see skies of blue…and clouds of white and the illustrations of both are beautiful. This book also comes with a CD featuring a reading of the book and the song as sung by Louis Armstrong. It’s a beautiful book with a great message.

Rhymes

Well, today it’s the songs not the rhymes that I’m going to focus on…and I’ve decided to be traditional.

Pop Goes The Weasel

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Every night when I go out,
The monkey’s on the table,
Take a stick and knock it off,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the city road
In and out the Eagle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

London Bridge is Falling Down

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

London Bridge is broken down,
Broken down, broken down.
London Bridge is broken down,
My fair lady.

 

…it can go on for much longer…

Do You Know The Muffin Man?

Oh, do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives on Drury Lane?

Oh, yes, I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who lives on Drury Lane.

Mary Had A Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb, little lamb,
little lamb, Mary had a little lamb
whose fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went
Mary went, Mary went, everywhere
that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day,
school one day, school one day,
He followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rules,
It made the children laugh and play,
laugh and play, laugh and play,
It made the children laugh and play,
To see a lamb at school.

Activity

I’m not suggesting a craft today but an activity. Sharing songs, singing together, and having a dance.

My family went camping a lot when I was a kid (and we still do – we all went up to Geraldton together in the holidays) and when we were driving to Esperance, Albany, etc. we would be forced to listen to 50s and 60s music (in a six-tape compilation call ‘The Rock Box’ which was later available on CD too). I say forced, because my mum had control of the radio, but I recently borrowed those CDs because that music is excellent and I have done well at quiz nights with my knowledge of music I’m too young to have listened to. My sister is now introducing my niece to that music as well. The best thing about it is: the entire family (grandparents down) can sing the entire six CDs and when we all climbed into the car together we can all sing along and that’s a great bonding experience and makes music even more fun for my niece.

So, share some of your favourite music with your kids. Sing to it, dance to it and help them develop their language and motor skills along the way.

Just remember, children whose parents (and extended family/friend group) read to them know more words than children whose parents don’t. And the more words children know, the more tools they have for being able to communicate with you and those around them. So, read all the time and show children you reading for pleasure as well because they want to do all of the wonderful things that you do.