STORY TIME! Reading to Kids the Right Way

Story Time

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’m willing to bet that if you read this blog, you take time to read to your kids. I’ll also guess that this time is special, enjoyed by both you and your kids. Perhaps before bedtime, you break out a favorite book, worn from multiple readings, and share a laugh or two. We can use this time a bit more constructively – to engage our children and increase the value of a regular activity. 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In a recent article over at Psychology Today, neurobiologist Erin Clabough, Ph.D. (author of Neuroparent, a regular PT blog) shared some wonderful insights on how we might make reading time an opportunity to engage our kids. We can use just about any book, even a book that is not particularly well written, to get children thinking about the story, any conflicts that arise in the narrative, and how they might handle the given situation. Here’s how Dr. Clabough suggests expanding on a story about bullying:

So how do we use books differently? Let’s pull out the conflict. Read through the bullying story until the kids start to be mean to each other. And instead of inwardly wincing and reading faster, press pause and close the book. Ask your child what they would do if they were in the character’s position. Brainstorm, and then open the book back up and allow the author to lead you through to the end.

Dr. Erin Clabough, Psychology Today

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This is a wonderful way to engage a child through reading. Let’s use Pete the Cat – I Love my White Shoes as an example. As we mentioned in our last post, this book does a wonderful job relating executive function and self-regulation skills. How, as Dr. Clabough suggests, do we “press pause” and engage?

If you recall, Pete the Cat accidentally stepped in a huge mound of strawberries, effectively ruining his favorite footwear. This moment is depicted in beautiful double page rendering by illustrator, James Dean.

Reading and engaging[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This is the moment to use Dr. Clabough’s pause technique. Close the book and ask the questions:

What do you think Pete will do?

What do you think you might do if this happened to you?

This is a golden opportunity to build executive function and self-regulation skills. When engaging a child in this way, particularly with preschool kids – keep the side discussion short and sweet. Most young kids possess a relatively abridged attention span. If you push it too far, the benefits might be lost. You know your kids best and will be able to judge how much time you can devote to this technique.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Once your child answers, you might be able to ask further questions before the reveal. On the next page, Pete shifts gears and celebrates his newly colored red shoes. We see him thinking, “Everything is cool.” Now you can compare Pete’s reaction with your child’s prediction – and even their own predicted reaction.

Pete’s cool and so are you!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This technique can be applied to any book. We can find moments that allow us to ask questions, that get our kids thinking about choices facing the story’s characters. In those moments, we can all reflect on the choices and how they might apply to our lives. You don’t have to do this constantly. Pick your book and pick your moments. Those moments that go beyond the story will add value to the experience.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Tips for Raising a Book Lover

Self Awareness Fairytale

Right this very moment my nine-year-old daughter CAN NOT put down Harry Potter and Kindermusik kids readingthe Sorcerer’s Stone. Her eyes gulp down the words while her imagination dives into the depths of the wizard world. It’s the 11th time she’s made the same journey not counting the first time we read the book out loud together last summer. To say she loves to read carries the same weight as she loves to breathe. She was not born a reader in the same way that she was, well, born to breathe. However, her love of reading began practically at birth and certainly long before she heard the name Harry Potter or even knew that those marks on a page meant anything!

To celebrate Book Lover’s Day, try integrating some of these reading tips with the young children in your life.

6 Family-Friendly Ideas for Raising a Reader

  1. Start reading early. Your child loves to hear the sound of your voice. So go ahead and snuggle with your newborn and a good picture book. Talk about what you see on the page. Let your child feel the pages. Board or bath books are ideal for young readers, who may prefer to “mouth” the book while listening.
  2. Let go of expectations. Reading to your child does not always usually look like you might think. A baby may prefer to stick a book in her mouth or a toddler may not sit in your lap, much less sit still. If your child loves to move, choose books that encourage it, such as From Head to Toe by Eric Carle, Wiggle by Doreen Cronin, or Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig. Children learn by moving so why not tap into it with the books you read!
  3. Read e-books together. Research shows that e-books can encourage even mom and young girl reading ebook togetherreluctant readers to love reading. Look for e-books that highlight the word as you read along. Check with your local library for a selection of e-books available. We also recommend the Reading Rainbow App with more than 500 e-books, including the Kindemrusik Music Mountain!
  4. Let your child pick out the book. Yes, this might mean reading (again and again) the same book or a gigantic book about dinosaurs or snakes or ballerinas who wear cowboy boots. Yes, we know it might not be what YOU want to read, but your child will love hearing it!
  5. Turn up the reading by turning on the music. Actively participating in musical activities supports early literacy development by increasing a child’s ability to process sound, introduces them to new vocabulary, imbeds the rhythm of spoken language, and boosts comprehension skills–all foundational reading skills.
  6. Eat Read Your Green Eggs and Ham. Being able to hear and identify words that rhyme is the earliest phonemic awareness ability. That is just a fancy way to say that you understand that words are made up of different sounds (phonemes). It is an essential skill to reading. So, go ahead and eat read your Green Eggs and Ham.

Looking for more recommendations and tips on reading with young children? Follow our “Books for Kids We Love” board on Pinterest.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. She loves passing on her love of reading to her two young daughters.

Happy International Children’s Book Day

International Children's Book Day LogoWARNING! Kindermusik Educators may burst into song at any time and in any place. They also sometimes carry egg shakers in their pockets for a little accompaniment. After all, pianos are not exactly portable. An equally true fact is that their bookshelves, iPads, and, in some cases, car trunks overflow with kids books. After all, music and reading go together like, well, music and egg shakers. So, we thought the best way to celebrate International Children’s Book Day today was to share some of Kindermusik Educators favorite children’s books. And the best way for YOU to celebrate is to read one of these—or your own favorite—with the children in your life!

Children’s Books Kindermusik Educators Love to Read

You Will Be My Friend and Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

~Alicia Bourdier


I’m a Little Teapot by Iza Trapani

~ Melinda Lise Pokorzynski


The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

~ Jamie Henry Espen


How to Speak Moo! By Deborah FajermanBooks for Kids We Love Pinterest Board

~ Cathy Huser


I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

~ Molly McAllister Ziegler


The Feelings Book and It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Park

Look Who’s Talking on the Farm and Look Who’s Talking at the Zoo by Danny Tepper

~ Lindsay Levin


To Market to Market by Anne Miranda

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

~ Yvette Odell


The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort

~Jane Hendrix


Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee

Who Hoots? By Katie Davis

~ Jan Janz


mom reading to her babyPete the Cat by James Dean

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

~Kathy Morrison


Bumpa Rumpus and the Rainy Day by Joanne Reay

~ Julie Stewart


Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Iza Trepani

Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand

Little White Duck by Bernard Zaritzky

~ Bernadette Baird


Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

Baby Beluga by Raffi

~ Whitney Shelton


Mrs. Wishy Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley

Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James

Do You Want to Be My Friend by Eric Carle

Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

~Helen Peterson


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

We All Go Traveling By by Sheena Roberts

Over in the Ocean: On a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes

~Danielle Smith

Shiny Dinah is one of our favorites from Kindermusik class! Take a listen and you’ll soon hear why parents, educators, kids love this book!


Looking for more great books to read with young kids? Try our “Books for Kids We Love” Pinterest Board.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. Her go-to children’s books include the Piggie & Gerald books by Mo Willems.


Got Rhythm? Rhythm Skills Could Predict Reading Disabilities

Do you know the old jazz standard by George and Ira Gerswin: “I’ve Got Music. I’ve Got Rhythm…Who could ask for anything more?” Well, apparently all that music and rhythm brings even more than a really good dance number by Gene Kelly. New research implies that young children’s rhythm abilities before they can read may eventually help doctors predict future reading disorders.
KindermusikClass_RhythmSticks_TeachChildrenImportantSkillsAn ongoing study  by Nina Kraus indicates that a preschooler’s ability to follow a rhythm and keep a steady beat can accurately predict early language skills and reading skills. While this is only the beginning of a five-year study, the team plans to track the participants to determine whether these rhythmic and steady beat abilities (or lack thereof) can predict later reading disorders, even with children as young as newborns.
“Detection this early could lead to intervention strategies such as music games to improve at-risk children’s rhythmic perception when their brains are most malleable,” says neurologist Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard Medical School in Boston in a press release.

We already know that early childhood music instruction:

  • Improves phonological awareness
  • Refines auditory discrimination
  • Increases auditory sequencing ability
  • Strengthens listening and attention skills
  • Enhances speaking skills
  • Heightens oral language development
  • Enriches vocabulary

Take a peek inside a Kindermusik classroom to see young students reading and playing rhythm patterns:


Learn more about the connections between music and reading at

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.


10 ways to instill a love of reading in preschool students

There are many ways preschool teachers can support the early literacy and language development of their students. Whether reading the 2013 Caldecott Medal Winner, This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen, making snowmen out of socks after reading about snow, or even celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday each March, the list of literacy activities and early childhood books seems endless. But what does the research say?

At ABC Music & Me, we keep tabs on the latest early literacy research and incorporate it into our preschool curriculum. We put together a list of 10 things a teacher can do to instill a love of reading in students while also supporting phonemic awareness and early literacy and language development.

10 ways teachers can support early literacy development (and a love of reading!)

  1. During storytime, include a mixture of books that you choose as well as books that your students choose. Along with the “Line Leader” for the day, why not also pick one child to be the “Story Student” to help you pick one of the books you will read.
  2. Throughout the week, provide opportunities for students to “act out” the stories read in the class.
  3. Add eBooks to your (virtual) bookshelf. Research shows eBooks can be especially motivating to boys and reluctant readers.
  4. Involve parents. Early literacy development begins at home so why not invite parents to be mystery readers in the classroom each week. Be sure all parents know about the importance of not only reading to their children 20 minutes each day but also the value of letting children see them reading for pleasure.
  5. If a new vocabulary word is introduced in a story, tell preschoolers what it means and then re-read the page substituting the new vocabulary word with the definition. This increases comprehension and vocabulary acquisition.
  6. Incorporate sight words into your reading. Ask children to listen for the sight word of the day (or week). Invite children to raise their hands when they hear the word and select a child to find the word on the page.
  7. Listen to audio stories. After preschool, children will spend up to 75 percent of classroom time listening. Listening to favorite audio stories supports emerging literacy and active listening—vital skills needed for early academic success. Kindermusik International offers audio stories available for download here.
  8. Clap or tap to the beat of favorite nursery rhymes. This helps preschoolers tune into the rhythm of spoken words.
  9. Ask open-ended questions during storytime, such as “what will happen next?” or “how do you think the character felt when that happened?”
  10. Participate in a music class. Phonological awareness, vocabulary acquisition, listening skills, and verbal memory can all benefit when children become actively engaged in a music class. Plus, research even shows that children who participate in music classes are more likely to score higher on reading comprehension tests.

    Supplemental preschool curriculum uses music to support early literacy

    Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me is a standards-based supplemental daycare curriculum. All three levels of our toddler curriculum and preschool curriculum boost early literacy and language development while also cultivating turn-taking and sharing, improving coordination, enhancing creativity, and more. Plus, ABC Music & Me involves parents by providing materials for families to use together at home where a child learns best.

    For more information about ABC Music & Me as a supplemental daycare or preschool curriculum, email us at

    Kids plugged in to eBooks

    Using eBooks with children

    Walt Disney understood the magic and wonder of childhood and also the importance of early literacy and reading. After all, he confessed: “there is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” We couldn’t agree more!

    Early literacy experts know that parents can best support their children’s early literacy and language development by reading together. Today parents can choose from a wide variety of books: Board books, bath books, lift-the-flap books, chapter books, comic books, and picture books. Now, thanks to emerging technology, such as smart phones, e-readers, and tablet computers, parents can even carry an entire library of eBooks in their pocket (or diaper bag!).

    eBooks for kids gaining in popularity with families

    A new report, Kids and Family Reading, published by Scholastic shows that the number of children reading eBooks has more than doubled since 2010.

    “We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print books and eBooks, yet e-reading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books,” explained Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic in a press release. “While many parents express concern over the amount of time their child spends with technology, nearly half do not have a preference of format for their child’s books. The message is clear—parents want to encourage more reading, no matter the medium.”

    Kids and Family Reading study highlights

    • Twice as many children are reading eBooks today than two years ago
    • Half of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to eBooks
    • Seventy-two percent of parents show an interest in having their child read eBooks
    • Eighty percent of children who read eBooks still read books for fun primarily in print.
    • Fifty-eight percent of kids age 9-17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are eBooks available (a slight decline from 66% in 2010), revealing the digital shift in children’s reading that has begun.

    Kindermusik now includes eBooks (and more!) through Kindermusik@Home

    Our music classes for toddlers, babies, big kids, and families include fun, age-appropriate music and movement activities that help children develop social, pre-literacy, and language skills and practice a wide variety of abilities. An integral part of the Kindermusik experience includes providing parents with the tools they need to tap into the power of music to not only help make parenting easier but also support their role as a child’s first and most important teacher.

    Now, with Kindermusik@Home, parents can easily access favorite Kindermusik songs and activities, music, eBooks, and lyrics—as well as recipes, learning games for kids, crafts, and more in a green-friendly digital format any time from any smart phone, iPad, tablet, laptop, or computer.

    To learn more about enrolling in Kindermusik classes and receiving access to Kindermusik@Home, contact a local Kindermusik educator via our Class Locator.

    Decrease in Father Involvement in Children’s Reading

    Source: Sean McCabe for The Wall Street Journal

    It is no secret that parent involvement in early childhood education can be a pivotal factor in a child’s academic success, especially early literacy. In fact, research shows that children’s reading achievement, vocabulary, and comprehension skills improve when their parents read to them.

    While the benefits of reading together and modeling the joys of reading may be common knowledge in early literacy circles, a new study published by the UK’s National Literacy Trust shows a widening gap between the reading habits of mothers versus fathers. The National Literacy Trust surveyed 21,000 8- to 16-year-olds from nearly 130 schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. One of the revealing trends indicates that fathers’ involvement in reading and literacy is significantly less than mothers and continues to decline.

    Highlights of the National Literacy Trust survey Continue reading “Decrease in Father Involvement in Children’s Reading”

    12 musical books for early literacy teachers and parents

    We agree with Lloyd Moss: “It’s music that we all adore.” At Kindermusik International, we love music for music’s sake and for its ability to touch the hearts, souls, and minds of young children and families. Music can support early language development, increase phonemic awareness, and even profoundly impact children with special needs.

    So make a resolution to gather your children together—whether at home or in the classroom—for musical story times that will support early literacy development and their love of music! Below you will find some of our favorite musical stories, including a Caldecott Winner, Reading Rainbow selections, audio story, and even a book written by a Kindermusik educator.

    12 musical books to support early literacy and language development

    E-books can put the “E” in early literacy development

    Supporting early literacy development in a classroom of preschoolers takes many different tools and tactics. Some children immediately walk into the classroom and head over to the book corner each morning. Those children seem to eat phonemes for breakfast. Children on the other end of the early literacy development spectrum may not engage in reading and literacy activities as eagerly. Recent literacy research from Kansas State University

    implies that e-readers can be used to motivate less enthusiastic students.

    E-readers can interest children in reading

    In her research, Assistant Professor Lotta Larson used Kindle readers with second-graders. At the time, the version of the e-reader used allowed children to make the text audible, increase or decrease font size, and let them make notes while reading.

    “It’s interesting to see the kinds of things these kids have been able to do,” Larson explained in a press release. “As a teacher, I know a student understands the book if she’s talking to the characters. If you take a look at those notes, it’s like having a glimpse into their brains as they’re reading.”

    While research continues to emerge about the impact of e-readers and e-books on early literacy and language development, we compiled current best practices for early childhood teachers to use in the classroom.

    Early literacy development through music and technology

    At Kindermusik International, we share a commitment to follow, participate in, and integrate the latest research on how children learn best, including educationally appropriate ways to include digital formats of music and books. Our standards-based early language and literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music as the vehicle for learning in preschools, daycares, and public schools while also appropriately implementing technology into the process. We’d love to schedule a demonstration to show you firsthand how to use music, technology, and the latest research to teach children early language and literacy, including at risk students who may also be reluctant readers.

    For more information about using ABC Music & Me to boost early literacy and language development, email us at