Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy

Baby Storytime: Sing a Book


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.

So, as Julie, Anna, and so many others have said (see Julie’s post for a list of other posts on the topic), SING!

Here’s today’s storytime outline:

Hello Bubbles

Penny Pointers

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Pizza Pickle Pumpernickel

Book: Little White Duck by Walt Whippo

Cover Art for Little white duck

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.

Giddyap, Giddyap

Bouncing 1 2 3

Stand Ups:

Andy Pandy

Merry Go Round

Rub a Dub Dub

Book: Humpty Dumpty by Annie Kubler

Cover Art for Humpty Dumpty

Cuckoo Clock

Group Pick: Noble Duke of York at 9:30 and Icky Bicky Soda Cracker at 10:30

Goodbye Bubbles

Splish Splash by Bobby Darin


Author: Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

21 thoughts on “Baby Storytime: Sing a Book

  1. Yay–I love hearing other people’s stories. Singing is so awesome. I sing so much now it’s kind of amazing that it used to be such a big deal to me. ❤

    • I still get stage fright (was glad I’m not the only one!) so I rarely use my real singing voice. Like I’m too embarrassed or something-it’s irrational. So far no one cares though!

  2. Love this! I sing a lot of things other may not, too. I agree – it’s all about making it fun in your own way 🙂
    What are some of your favourite books to sing?

    • Right now I’m really in to the Jane Cabrera books. Twinkle Twinkle is especially gorgeous. Little White Duck is definitely a favorite as is Brown Bear, Brown Bear. For older kids I LOVE Seals on the Bus, Boy on the Bus, If You’re a Monster and You Know It. Others like Monkey and Me, Tanka Tanka Skunk, I Went Walking, Jazz Baby (my fav book EVER) are great to chant or read with a rhythm. I’m actually working on a presi on music including, singing books and will post my list after the conference in April. 🙂

  3. I LOVE to sing during story time, Kendra! I just went back and looked at my blog posts from this past fall, and nearly every post from late August through early October were about singing and signing! Here is the post where I cover the rundown of the tunes that fit to each my “singable” books: If you ever sing one of these at one of your own story times, I’d love for you to have someone capture it on film (I’m on a quest to get video footage of my singable signing stories being sung…oh, how’s that for a tongue twister?). I look forward to your post-conference list of singable books, so I can add to my own toolkit (I think we’re teaching at the same conference at the same time, so I’m bummed I won’t be able to attend your class!).

    • Thanks for this!! And I think you might be right about the conference. Darn!

    • That post is so awesome! I should have guessed you’d have tunes with the books. I’d be happy to do a video but it would be just me-no kids. :/
      We’ll have to bump in to each other, at least, in April. I am doing 2 sessions…

      • Just you would be just fine…I’m just trying to gather a collection I can add to YouTube because people in my classes always ask for examples they can link to (and I figure it will be better to have more than just me providing the examples!). Yes, on bumping into each other in April–I’m doing two sessions, too. ; )

  4. Thanks for sharing your go-to list, Kendra. There are a couple that are new to me – just what I was hoping for :-).
    Let me return the favour. For toddlers, I can’t help but sing Moo Moo, Brown Cow (by Jakki Wood) to the tune of Baa Baa, Black Sheep. For the preschool crowd, one of the books I sing is Summery Saturday Morning. I can’t find the book right now to check the author. We moved a few months ago, and some of my books are still in boxes and hard to get at 😦
    I sing it to:

    This is the Way….
    This is the way we brush our teeth,
    Brush our teeth, brush our teeth
    This is the way we brush our teeth
    So early in the morning

    You have to fiddle a little to fit it to the tune, but it’s not too far off.
    In the rhythm & chant dept., I also love Hand, Hand, Fingers,Thumb

  5. Is there any way you could have your music presi video taped, and post it somewhere for those of us that can’t be there to partake of your wonderous knowledge & creativity in person? (I’m not mocking you’ I promise – just channeling my inner Anne Shirley – sometimes I can’t help myself 🙂

    • Lol! And sadly, no. For too many reasons to list here. But I am planning on posting basically everything I said/did so hopefully that will help.

  6. So, reading to babies has always made me feel like there’s empty space I need to fill with conversation.
    THIS!! I feel this so much with my young storytimes. And I know it’s just me, and the moms don’t notice, but I am used to more conversations with my preschoolers. I may try singing my books, see if that works as well for me.

    • Yes! Give it a try!
      I think you’re right about being used to prek convo. I did prek for so long I got in a rhythm of question asking, etc. Weird to go to baby storytime and there isn’t as much if that!
      Let me me know how the singing goes if you try it.

  7. That’s great that you’ll post a transcript of your presi, Kendra. Thanks for putting in the work to keep the fans satisfied 😉

    I followed the link (above) to Dawn’s blog – lots of awesome stuff there :). I’m lovin’ this crazy Blog World!

    • Isn’t it fabulous?! It’s amazing I get anything done with all the blogs to read. Dawn’s blog is fabulous (she is, too!) and as I’ve seen her in action, she really knows her stuff. I use many signs in storytime regularly that I learned from her and her picture books.

  8. I like to “sing” Eve Bunting’s book “Flower Garden” to the universal childhood chant: “nyah nyah, na nyah nyah” or “I’ve got a secret I won’t tell, two little peanuts in a shell…” This chant works really well with a lot of different books. Thanks for the post. Sing does work so well.

  9. Pingback: In Case You Missed It! | storytime katie

  10. Pingback: Websites to help with storytime | babieslovebooks

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