Who doesn’t remember the “ABC Song”? Besides being one of the most memorable songs of childhood, the Alphabet Song is the most basic example of singing as a pathway to reading. This year Timberland Regional Library’s 13th annual early learning initiative, The Family Read-Aloud, becomes The Family Read &Sing Aloud, adding music as a major piece of the program.
Running from March 1 through April 12, The Family Read &Sing Aloud centers on families reading aloud — and now singing together —in as many different areas of their homes as they can. The program focuses on children from infancy to grade 3, but all of a family’s children are encouraged to join in the fun.
“It’s no coincidence that we open the Read &Sing Aloud celebration with the birthday of Dr. Seuss and close on the birthday of Beverly Cleary. Characters from books written by these beloved authors have become part of cherished childhood memories for generations!” said Ellen Duffy, TRL’s Youth Services Coordinator.
Families, child care providers and classroom teachers may pick up “Read &Sing Aloud House” materials at any Timberland library beginning Saturday, March 1, enter a drawing for prizes and start reading and singing in rooms all over their homes. The more rooms and spaces, the merrier.
Every local Timberland library will draw a winner for a backpack filled with books chosen especially for the winning family or classroom. Friends of the Library groups throughout the library system have generously provided many hundreds of books. Libraries will also have local drawings during the program for books and other prizes such as Read to Me calendars.
New materials for this year include a Nursery Rhyme Kit and “Sing Along Stories,” a list of picture books of children’s songs. Also new is a “Books with a Beat” door hanger that includes a list of rhythmic read-alouds that just beg readers and listeners to clap, tap their toes, snap their fingers, and pat their laps.
Sing to your Librarian Week is a new activity at all Timberland libraries. Children are invited to sing a nursery rhyme, short song, or the ABC song to a librarian at their library anytime during the week of March 24-29 to receive a small prize.
Complete Family Read &Sing Aloud program details will be in libraries and online at www.TRL.org by March 1.
Benefits of Reading and Singing Together
“There is a tremendous body of research showing that a child’s emotional and social readiness is a strong predictor of school success. Sitting comfortably together to share a story or sing a song helps nurture the emotional bond between parent and child,” said Ms. Duffy.
“Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library” (ECRR), a research-based initiative of the American Library Association (ALA), the Public Library Association (PLA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), stresses that early literacy begins with the primary adults in a child’s life. ECRR and Timberland Regional Library’s family programming encourage parents and caregivers to have fun engaging their young ones in talking, singing, reading, writing and playing every day.
“Children who are lovingly and joyfully read and sung to from an early age develop better language skills, enhanced listening skills and larger vocabularies, and are more ready to read when they begin school,” said Ms. Duffy.
Nancy Stewart, creator of the “Sing with Our Kids” community initiative, http://singwithourkids.com, writes: “Simply singing with a child connects neural pathways, and increases the ability to retain information… Music builds a strong sense of rhythm, which leads to a better ability to understand and produce language. Singing develops spatial reasoning, which allows children to recognize patterns and later helps in problem-solving.” Songs are rich in vocabulary and build awareness of sounds, Stewart said.
“Song involves even the youngest child in language,” said Duffy. According to music education professor Lili M. Levinowitz, Ph.D., “Infants can…match pitch as early as three to four months of age. Purposeful singing can begin at around 12 months.”
“The Family Read &Sing Aloud is all about highlighting the lasting value of reading aloud and singing with your child—nurturing, creating memories, modeling reading enjoyment, developing readers, helping your child enter school ready to read,” said Duffy, “And, how can you sing together without feeling happy?”
Comments from families surveyed during previous years’ programs demonstrate that they enjoy reading, laughing, snuggling and spending time together. Parents heard their children using new words and stretching their imaginations by acting out the stories and making up new ones. One parent wrote, “She is beginning to read back to us!”