A tweet from @abbylibrarian alerted me to this unspeakably adorable video of YA author John Green singing to his four-ish-month-old. (Though I must say, for a kid I'm convinced was born in January, that one certainly has plentiful hair.)
Besides being cute and hilarious, it brings up one of my favorite pre-literacy tips, and that's singing to your baby.
There are oodles of kiddie CDs, and they're marvelous. Ella Jenkins and Hap Palmer and my own personal childhood favorite, Raffi. It's all out there. But when you sing to, or with, your children, it's a million miles removed from simply popping in a CD. It's all the fun and benefit of music, plus opportunities to cuddle and be silly and get face time, and teach them by example that music is not only something you consume, it's something you produce and take joy in. Letting them make their own music later with rattles, drums, and, yes, singing, has a host of benefits, some of which are mentioned in this article: 5 Scientific Ways That Music Benefits Infants and Toddlers.
How does this all tie into literacy? Words are literacy. Letting children hear words, how they match up with other words, how a melody breaks them down into syllables, makes them familiar to a baby brain that will soon start assembling its own toolbox of speech.. From "Hush Little Baby" to "Hey Jude," songs also tend to use wider vocabulary than regular speech, exposing your baby to even more words.
Listen, you may not know all the lyrics, and you may not have a concert-ready voice. You may not even be karaoke-ready. But to your little one, you're Mommy or Daddy, and that's a bigger superstar than Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. You might even give Elmo a run for his money.