Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brown Bear


Today I'm thankful for picture books, especially what I call "singing books". I have a musical background and one of my greatest joys in life is sharing musical books with children. Books do not have to be based upon a song or about music to be musical. Reading a book with a child is a very special experience, but singing a book with a child adds an entirely new dimension. Music, even at its most basic level, touches the very soul of a child.

The very first book I sing for my babies is Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I just love Eric Carle's gorgeous illustrations and the bright, simple pictures are very appealing to the eyes of a newborn just learning how to focus. The words of this book are set to a simple tune, and if you pay careful attention to the video, you will notice that I've made some slight modifications to the words and when to turn the pages to help it make more sense to babies.

Now if you are interested in the more technical aspects of what makes this such an enriching experience for babies, read on:
  • The tune is a "sol-mi" melody with with a "la" and a "do" thrown in for those who are familiar with solfege. The sol-mi interval is the most natural for young children to sing. It is the same interval children sing when they taunt with "nanny-nanny-boo-boo". Did you know every culture has a "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" song? There are different syllables used, but the tune is universal. Fascinating isn't it?
  • When you sing, use a high and light voice as I demonstrate in the video. Children find it easiest to match pitch when singing between the D just below the treble clef staff up to the C on the staff. Most adults tend to sing way too low for children to be successful matching pitch. Try to listen to the pitch where your child naturally talks (if they talk yet!) and match them.
  • You don't need instruments to sing with children. A simple guitar accompaniment can enhance the singing a bit, but anything else becomes a distraction. Most recorded children's music is rather overwhelming in the amount of noise bombarding the child. Just sing using your natural voice! Your child will love it and it is the best way for them to learn!
  • So you can't carry a tune in a bucket? That's ok, sing anyway! Do your best and realize that your baby is not a critic. Your baby will love your singing because it is YOU. Every baby thinks his mother has the most beautiful voice in the world, so soak up those adoring looks and relish in it. After you sing a nap time book or two, rock and sing a few lullabies. Years later, you will be thankful for those sweet times together.
Finally, Brown Bear is not just for babies! Pre-school children love it too! When I share this book with pre-readers, it often becomes the first book they are able to "read" on their own. I have the sweetest video of Big Littles "reading" this book, singing it perfectly in tune by himself when he was just two. I'd love to share it, but it shows his adorable face, which is just way too adorable for this blog. ;)

This post is a part of the Four Moms Read Aloud linkup. See here for some other wonderful nap and bedtime read alouds.

In addition, each of the Four Moms talk about having a daily quiet time each afternoon for children of all ages. I highly recommend the practice. Mrs. Smockity posted some of the best advice EVER for quiet time and it made all the difference in making it work with our pre-school child. I'm ever thankful for these four ladies sharing their wisdom every week! (Hey, another reason for Thankful Thursday!)


  1. That's a great idea - singing books. Are you familiar with Sandra Boynton's music & books? My kids love her music, especially the songs that go with the books that we have.

  2. It definitely works! My 2 year old was watching your video and listening. When it finished, she started singing the words out loud. It was cute.


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