Singing is fun but research has found that it is more than just that; it is also good for your health, lowering stress and releasing endorphins that create a feeling of pleasure. Singing with your children will make you happy regardless of your musical abilities. And there is even more reason to sing with them, it puts them on the road to reading success. How? Singing helps children, even ones who are very young, hear the sounds that make up words. Researchers call this phonological awareness. Being able to hear distinct sounds helps children recognize those sounds and syllables when they are learning how to read.
Oakland Public Library can help you find songs and make singing fun in several ways:
We have a collection of songbooks, many of which include the tune and lyrics in the back. You can find them in our nonfiction collections under the 782 call number. One of my favorites is The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort.
We also have collections of music CDs that you can borrow. They range from lullabies for babies to the Frozen soundtrack. Come and check them out!
Finally, we have a new music service, Freegal that lets you download and stream music from popular artists. For music especially created for kids, click on “genres” on the bar at the top of the page, and then select “Children’s Music.”
As always, all of these materials and services are free, so check them out and let your voices soar!
I recently returned from sweltering Las Vegas where the American Library Association Annual Convention was taking place. One of the programs I attended looked at whether or not the five activities developed by Every Child Ready to Read 2 - reading, singing, talking, writing and playing with children aged 0-5 had a statistical impact on that child's literacy levels. A research grant in Washington State looked at the literacy levels of kids who attended storytimes where those practices were modeled.
The results? Yes they do! Children who attended library storytimes that incorporated those activities did have higher literacy rates. Just another reason to come to the storytimes offered here at the library and practice these activities at home.
For more information about the study, check out: digitalyouth.ischool.uw.edu and click on the "Project Views" link.
To find our storytime schedule, check the OPL calendar: http://oaklandlibrary.org/events
The skills needed to learn how to read and write are connected in children's brains. In order to ready your child for reading, try some of these easy and fun writing activities:
FOR BABIES: Of course your baby is not ready to read or write just yet, but learning to recognize shapes is the first step towards acquiring those skills. So point out different shapes you see and describe them to your child. Find things that are round, such as balls, and let your child explore them. Boxes are all around you; let your child play with a cardboard box and talk about squares and rectangles. Playing with simple shape and color puzzles will also help develop these skills.
FOR TODDLERS: Keep playing with shapes but also have fun introducing alphabet letters. Toddlers love hearing their names, Expand the sound of your toddler's name by writing it on all sorts of surfaces, on paper, with blocks or magnetic letters, on chalkboards or even with water. Identify each of the letters in their name.
Print is everywhere. Help your child notice alphabet letters by pointing out the names on food containers, words on road signs and names of stores. Point out letters to your toddler as you go through your day.
Let your toddler try writing! Scribbles are a great way of strengthening their fine motor skills. Fat crayons are great at helping them grip crayons without their breaking.
FOR PRESCHOOLERS: Play "I Spy" to find letters in the room. Silently choose something that your child can see. Say, "I spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter (name a letter) What is it?"
Play games like "We are going to a place to eat whose name begins with the letter "B." Where do you think we are going?"
Sing the alphabet song while pointing to the letters of the alphabet.
Writing can be done anywhere: in the sand or dirt, on a chalkboard, in a pan filled with rice or flour, with a piece of yarn, with blocks, and even in the tub. Make writing letters a game you play every day.
Here’s an understatement for you: train books are popular at the library. They have the power to capture the attention and imagination of wiggly toddlers, curious preschoolers, and knowledgeable school-aged kids alike. They inspire squeals of delight when discovered and, sometimes, tears of despair when returned! Come find these tried-and-true books at the library for the train lover in your life:
Trains / Byron Barton
And the train goes-- / William Bee
Freight train / Donald Crews
Down by the station / by Jennifer Riggs Vetter ; illus. by Frank Remkiewicz
Trains : steaming! pulling! huffing! / by Patricia Hubbell ; illus. by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
The caboose who got loose / Bill Peet
The little engine that could / retold by Watty Piper ; pictures by Loren Long
I saw an ant on the railroad track / by Joshua Prince ; illus. by Macky Pamintuan
Seymour Simon's book of trains / Seymour Simon
Want to discover a library secret? Go ahead and take a trip to the 782 section of the children’s nonfiction shelves and you’ll discover something amazing. Hidden treasures! Picture books that are meant to be SUNG! Some are traditional, others are silly – but all are crowdpleasing. Here are a few recommendations to warm up your singing voice:
Baby Beluga / Raffi; illustrations by Ashley Wolff
Down by the Station / Jennifer Riggs Vetter; illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz
Hush, Little Baby / adapted and illustrated by Brian Pinkney
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! / Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow
I Love You! A Bushel & a Peck / Frank Loesser; pictures by Rosemary Wells
Let's Play in the Forest While the Wolf is not Around / Claudia Rueda
Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy / Jan Thomas
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin; art by James Dean
The Seals on the Bus / Lenny Hort; illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Play has a direct link to early literacy experience. Play and stories work together to encourage creativity, imagination, and dexterity: all skills that help your child learn.
If you have DUPLOS at home, try some of the acitivities in the the Read! Build! Play! at Home Toolkit developed by LEGO in partnership with The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).
We also have DUPLOS and LEGOS for your child to play with at many library locations. Bring your child of any age in to one of our monthly LEGO Mania! clubs, where they can play and build with others.
LEGO Mania! Monthly Lego Clubs
First Tuesdays at 4pm at the Eastmont Library
First Fridays at 3:30pm at the Dimond Library
Second Thursdays at 3pm at the Main Library Children's Room
Second Fridays at 3pm at the Lakeview Library
Third Fridays at 3pm at the West Oakland Library
Ask your Librarian for other ways for your child to play at the library!
Malik Pedraza-Palomino is ready to fly with his LEGO creation at the 81st Avenue Library.
You are your child's first and best teacher. Sharing five ativities regularly - talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing - with him will prepare him for reading.
We now know that from the moment they are born, they are learning about the world around them, processing input, making hypotheses, and coming to conclusions. A baby's brain already weighs 25% of its adult weight; it has a lot of work to do!
It is never too soon to start talking with your child. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. They learn about the world around them and important general knowledge. Fifteen minute snippets of talking and listening while you are cooking, putting on makeup, driving, or gardening are as much as your child needs to start developing her vocabulary and understanding how language works, thereby getting her ready to read.
Why does your toddler or preschooler ask for you to read the same book over and over? Children learn through repetition, and they need to experience a story many times to fully understand it. They also love to hear funny or rhyming words, and active or soothing rhythms, over and over and over--it's how they learn to talk, build their vocabulary, and learn to be creative with language! Every time you read that story again, they are growing their brains, and--most importantly--you are bringing them joy.
Of course, it's hard to bring joy if you've just had enough of The Baby Beebee Bird for the night. Stop in to see us: we are always happy to help you choose library books suited especially to your taste and your child's, so that you can have a changing stockpile to tempt your child to try something new. And don't forget our storytimes ...we'll read The Baby Beebee Bird for you. Though even we need a break from it too, from time to time.
What book does your child make you read over and over?