Singing to young children helps get them ready to read

Researchers have found that hearing rhymes and patterns in sounds can help develop speech. Singing is a great way to develop a child’s phonological awareness, which is the ability to distinguish separate sounds. One reason for this is that each there is usually a different musical note for each syllable sung. Words are coming at young ears in a slower, rhythmic fashion that makes it much easier for young children to hear all of the syllables in words. Learning to hear all of the syllables helps later with reading.


  • Sing a lullaby to infants to help them relax. Holding an infant against one’s chest allows the infant to hear one’s heartbeat, which re-creates the sound of the womb. This combined with a soothing song gives a child an intimate relaxation experience.
  • Dance with your infant when you hear a song that you love and sing along. You might be surprised to find your baby bopping and babbling along with you.
  • Sing a musical book to your child while looking at the pictures together. Here are some suggested books:

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Toddlers & Preschoolers

  • Help your child explore their emotions through singing – “If you’re angry and you know it shout GA-RAH!”
  • Have fun by making up new lyrics for familiar songs.
  • Record yourselves singing a song together either in a video or in an app.
  • Duck Duck, Moose makes some wonderful music-based apps for young children. Both The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus have a record your own voice function to use while playing the game.
  • Remember that co-viewing and playing of interactive digital media with age appropriate apps can help your child learn, especially when that learning is reinforced in other ways. Read more about media tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Try singing the alphabet song to a different tune, like “Mary had a Little Lamb” or try singing it backwards. “Now I know my Z Y X’s, Bet that’s not what you expected.”

-Sarah, Children's Librarian at Martha Cooper Library

Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play!

Singing is incredibly engaging for children and has countless early literacy benefits, which include building vocabulary, slowing down language, developing memory skills, and so much more!

Read more about early literacy and how you can make a difference in your child's life.