The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 2 | Page 13



David L. HarrisonFor the Fun of It


How Songs and Poems Help Your Children Learn to Read

Eric Litwin

bright, happy, two and half year old little boy named Ashton, “predictive” reading my book Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child and family experienced this joyful learning?

You can watch Ashton “predictive” reading in this video:

I am convinced that “predictive” reading is natural, necessary, and joyful. I think it comes between “shared” reading and “conventional” reading. It is a stage we have greatly misunderstood and underutilized. It is here children first feel the power of reading. It is here children first fall in love with books and reading. It is here children begin to see themselves as readers.

Songs, nursery rhymes, and poems facilitate this stage. Their repetitive, rhythmic, rhyming characteristics enable a child to successfully engage in “predictive” reading. And the interactive and interpersonal qualities of the songs and poems make the experience deeply fulfilling, joyful, and healthy.

What is Better Cake or Cupcakes?

After a live performance, I often sign books for the audience. They come to a table and hand me their books. Sometimes, I ask the children some fun questions. One of my favorites is, “What is better, cake or cupcakes?” I just love it when the child thinks about it and answers “both.” Great answer!

If you were to ask me “What’s better, books or songs/poems,” I would have to say, “both.” We do not have to choose between songs/poems or books. We can do both. I hope you do.

For me, it goes one step further. I want to have songs and poems and reading woven together. This is why I incorporate singing and poetry directly into my books. This is why my books break out into song. This makes them more engaging! This increases the learning power! This helps them be more fun than electronics and tablets.

Let’s Have a Reading Party!

I hope we can all work together as teachers and parents to make sure learning to read is fun. I hope we form an understanding that early language experiences are important and joyful. I hope we can embrace the learning opportunities of songs and poems and make them a daily part of our homes and classrooms. I hope we can see the importance and joy of “predictive” reading. I hope we can see and appreciate the incredible connections between songs, poems, and reading. And, I hope we can stand together in the firm conviction that electronic devices have limited value. But engaging books, rhythmic poems, and joyful songs are boundless sources of joy and learning.

Eric Litwin is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the original four Pete the Cat books, The Nuts and Groovy Joe. This award-winning author brings early literacy and music together. Eric's books have sold over 13 million copies, been

translated into 17 languages, and won 26 literacy awards including a Theodor Geisel Seuss Honor Award. Eric wants all children to love reading and provides several resources to help do that:

The Nut Family:

Groovy Joe:

Visit Eric on the web, see his books, download his songs for free. Just click on the link below