Sometimes there are things you do all the time in storytime, or in life, not realizing its any big deal. Singing a book is one of those for me. Maybe it’s because it’s totally something my mom would have done with me (did you ever sing a book with me, Mom?) or because there are so many beautiful books out there to go with my favorite songs. No matter the reason, singing a book is actually easier for me than reading one, especially with babies and toddlers. Though you can ask open-ended questions, point to words, and do a whole host of other things to promote early literacy with babies, those things are really more effective (at least immediately) with preschoolers. I’ll spend a lot of time talking about a page with 4 and 5 year olds, but a baby isn’t going to last that long. So, reading to babies has always made me feel like there’s empty space I need to fill with conversation. I know it’s just me and caregivers don’t notice anything awry, but it’s always a little off for me. Reading one on one, no problem! To a group of babies? Oh boy! Something about singing, though, makes the experience feel fuller. It takes more of me to sing so I don’t have the time to think about whether we should quack like a duck. It’ll either happen (and some caregivers might quack while the rest of us sing), or not, but we’re developing language skills either way.
Due to this about 90% of the books I share in storytime are songs, rhymes, something I can turn in to a chant (like Monkey and Me), or I create a sort of rhythm with (I Went Walking). Before I did this regularly, I tried all the baby books my peers were sharing and didn’t feel comfortable. I was singing a book here and there, but still mostly reading them. I finally took my own advice (do what YOU love and are excited about) and now use this method weekly. Some storytimers say they are worried about overusing it, but now that I’ve been at it for several years, I don’t worry about that at all. How can you overuse singing? Besides, babies, and parents, really respond to a rhythmic book. Babies kick their legs and grin, moms and dads sing along, grandmas rock back and forth. When I look around the room and see only happy, peaceful faces I know I’m doing something right.
Here’s today’s storytime outline:
Book: Little White Duck by Walt Whippo
This is my favorite version for little guys but it is sadly out of print. Any version would be fine to sing with, though. If you don’t know the tune you can hear Burl Ives sing it here. Though no one sings it like my Mom, he’s a close second.
Book: Humpty Dumpty by Annie Kubler
Splish Splash by Bobby Darin