The Benefits of Sing-alongs

3Sing-alongs are an important element of traditional storytime.  Music has the power to engage children and engagement is key in storytime.  Plus, kids love to sing!  A catchy sing-along is always a hit.

Songs also serve as useful components during storytime.  They can be actual story elements such as musical picture books/eBooks/apps with songs, music videos, felt board songs, musical story stretches, background music, or beginning and ending songs.

Finally, singing is a powerful stimulant to learning.  It’s one of the five early-literacy building practices for parents with young children.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the benefits of sing-alongs for kids:

  • Sing-alongs are a joyful activity and a fun bonding experience (even if you don’t think you can sing).
  • Sing-alongs support the six pre-reading skills.
  • Sing-alongs slow down language so children may hear the smaller sounds in words.
  • Sing-alongs improve listening skills and broaden attention spans.
  • Sing-alongs “engage huge swathes of the brain which makes them a powerful stimulant to learning” (Gill, 2010).  In other words, singing fosters brain development across multiple domains of learning.
  • Sing-alongs allow children to experience key early childhood education concepts in different ways and this increases cognition. This is called integration.
  • Sing-alongs encourage vocal play. Vocal play develops vocal muscles and articulation skills.  Articulation skills include rhythm, the ability to form vowel and consonant sounds, the ability to say words and phrases, and the ability to use vocal inflection.
  • Sing-alongs are story stretches. They are like storytelling candy.  These activities give kid’s brains a respite from listening to stories (linguistic and cognitive learning) by engaging them in alternative ways (musically, physically, vocally and/or visually through music video).
  • Sing-alongs encourage social development through group cooperation. Over time, sing-alongs can unite groups and create social tribes.


ABC Children’s Group., (2008). The E. B. White read aloud award. Retrieved             February 11, 2015 from            awards/

American Library Association., (2011). Every child ready to read 2nd edition. ALSC &            PLA, Retrieved February 14, 2015 from

Oakland Public Library (OPL)., (2006). Books for wider horizons training manual.             Oakland Public Library.

Baltuck, N., (2005). Telling stories for children: intros, outros, and story stretches.             National Storytelling Network, 1-879991-34-9.

Kent District Library (2015). Five Early Literacy Practices to Get Your Child Ready to Read.  Retrieved March 2, 2015 from

Eberts, M., Gisler, P. (2015). Kindergarten readiness checklist. Family,         retrieved February 14, 2015 from

Gill, V., (2010). Singing rewires damaged brain. BBC News San Diego, February 22,           2010 from

Brisbane, H.E., (2010). The developing child: Building brighter futures.  McGraw-Hill, 428-429, 501-502.

Cavanaugh, J.C., Kail, R.V., (2000). Human development: a lifespan view.  Wadsworth, 212-213.

3Make Reading More Fun

Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!