Singing Books and Reading Songs



Someone came up to me at the end of a workshop one day and said, “Dr. Jean, you take a simple idea and milk it for all it’s worth.”. 

I smiled and said, “I sure do!  That’s what good teachers do!”  Let’s see how we can take a song that children enjoy and use it as a springboard to develop skills, as well as motivate children to read.

Narrative songs are songs that tell a story.  The lyrics provide the opportunity for children to recall details and sequence, and they also make great class books!

1st – Sing the song several times so the children are familiar with it.
2nd – Who are the characters in the song?  What is the setting?  What happened first?  Next?  Then?  Last?
3rd -  Ask the children to close their eyes as you sing and make pictures in their brains.
4th  – Give them paper, crayons, markers, or paint to illustrate a picture from the song.
5th – Enlarge the words to the song, cut them apart, and glue them to pages where they seem most appropriate.
6th – Add a page for “Illustrators” where the children can sign their names.


Encourage them to “dedicate” the book and add the publisher (school, class, city, state) and copyright date.  Put their pictures together, add a front and back cover, and bind. 




  • Use the book for choral singing.
  • Place the book in the listening center.
  • Let a different child take the book home each evening to share with their families.
  • Put the book in the school library so other classes can check it out.

RL 1, 2, 3
RL 6
RF 4
W 3
SL 1, 2, 5

Here are some of my songs that I used to make these books:
Cool Bear Hunt (listen)
The Bear Went over the Mountain
Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Granny at the Fair
In the Woods There Was a Tree (go to Downloads page for free song)
Coming Round the Mountain
Mulberry Bush
The Wheels on the Bus
The Three Little Kittens

Another way to make books is to enlarge the words and run off a sentence on each page.  After singing the song, let children choose the verse they would like to illustrate.   I’ve used this technique to make books for some of these songs:
Eat Green
Home on the Range
Katalina Matalina
Wonderful World

Wonderful World

My Mother Is a Baker
Today Is Sunday
Tooty Ta
Hello, Friends!

RL 1
RI 2
RF 4
W 3
SL 1, 2, 5

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