Storytime Songs and Music

I’ve been wondering how to freshen up my storytime this year. I realized, looking back at my old plans, that I tended to use the same few songs from only a few CD’s. I’d begun using recorded music at the end of my storytime more and more, and I think it may become a permanent pattern. If I’m going to try and add a music element to my storytime each week, I definitely need to expand my repertoire.

When I started searching out new music for storytime, I stumbled upon the debate of CDs vs. A Cappella. The pros and cons of both are discussed on  Mel’s Desk and That’s So JuvenileHi Miss Julie made the wonderful point I tell my parents all the time: Kids don’t care about the quality of your voice. Sing anyway! And Future Librarian Superhero takes a strong stance against recorded music during storytime,  and makes a great point that this give the caregivers at her storytime no excuse to not sing at home. This conversation has been popping up around my library system as well lately, and so I wanted to add my voice to the chorus.

I firmly believe that even though singing is important for phonological awareness, vocabulary, etc. MUSIC is just as important. I will fearlessly raise my weak and off-key voice in song, but I can’t replicate the power of instruments to get your body moving to the beat. While I do make an effort to learn the lyrics and sing along with any music on CD that I’m using in storytime, I don’t always expect my storytime families to sing along, just listen and move. In fact, one of my main criteria for using a recorded song is that it’s too complicated for everyone to sing a capella.

Old MacDonald, If You’re Happy and You Know It and all those other classic children’s tunes  I sing unaccompanied and with every expectation that caregivers and children will join in. As others have mentioned, singing your own song allows for endless adaption. You can stretch the song, or cut it short; you can tweak the lyrics to fit a theme; you can play around with volume and speed. I can’t imagine a storytime where we didn’t just lift up our own imperfect voices and SING!

But action rhymes and fingerplays don’t stir my soul the same way dancing to music does. Maybe it’s because outside of storytime I enjoy dancing so much more than singing, my enthusiasm may be contagious, but I notice more kids and parents actively participating when the music’s on than when I’m singing a capella. Having prerecorded music frees me up to dance along and interact with the kids. I can comment on a child’s enthusiasm or impressive dance move without losing the beat. When following the actions in a song, I can join my storytime families as a participant just playing along.

Some of my favorite children’s artists are:

Laurie Berkner: Whaddaya Think of That?

  • I Know a Chicken
  • Wimoweh

Hap Palmer: Rhythms on Parade

  • Bean Bag Song

Jim Gill: 

  • Silly Dance Contest (The Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes)
  • Jumping and Counting (Irrational Anthem)
  • Jump Up, Turn Around (Moving Rhymes for Modern Times)

Johnette Downing: Wild and Woolly Wiggle Songs

  • Ants in Your Pants
  • Monkey See, Monkey Do

Old Town School of Folk Music (Various Artists)

  • Driving in My Car (Songs for Wiggleworms)
  • Milkshake Song (Wiggleworms Love You)

New artists to try:

  • Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael
  • Greg & Steve
  • Carole Peterson
  • Kathy Reid-Naiman
  • Giggling and Laughing (Various Artists)

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