Books, Stories, and Songs for Infants and Toddlers

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1Books, Stories, and Songs for Infants and Toddlers

Collected by: Dr. Rebecca Isbell


The first three years of life are a critical period of development. Infants and toddlers are growing, learning, moving, and thinking in amazing ways. Brain research has indicated that during this period there are windows of opportunity where the young child is primed for specific areas of develop Windows of opportunity during the first three years include:

- Language

- Music

- Visual Acuity

- Motor Development

Language Development
Beginning communications: sounds, gestures and actions.

Responding to beginning attempts

Providing labels for their world

Posing questions: waiting for responses

Reading and telling stories
Language Play
- Face and body games
Example: Here is the beehive
Here is the beehive. Where are the bees?

Hidden away where nobody sees.

Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive

One, Two, Three, Four, Five.

Finger plays

Example: Where is thumbkin?

Repetitive phrases

Example: Rock Rock Rock (child’s name)

Rhymes for Sharing

Example: Hush little baby (folk song) (In Isbell’s CD- Songs too Good to Miss)

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,

Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

If that mockingbird won’t sing,

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
Repeat and repeat!

The Importance of Stories: Why do infants and toddlers need these????

Stories connect us—build relationships

Give meaning to life

Make emotional connections

Expand Language skills

Meaning to literacy (speaking, reading and writing)

Building understanding of the world and community

Sharing Stories to Infants and toddlers
Personal stories

Stories read with illustrations

Wordless books

Told with or without visuals

Stories sung -

Example: Little White Duck ( Isbell’s CD ,Songs too Good to Miss)

There’s a little white duck sitting in the water,

A little white duck doing what he oughter.

He took a bite of a lily pad,

Flapped his wings and he said, “I’m glad.”

I’m a little white duck sitting in the water,

Quack! Quack! Quack!

Creating a space to explore books and stories
Library and Book Space:

From: The Complete Book of Learning Spaces for Infants and Toddlers. Isbell and Isbell

Characteristics of Environment

Small scale

Dropped ceiling

Soft couch and pillows

Variety of books, including books with children’s pictures

Attractive area

Good lighting

Stories and music on tape

Special note: Children “read” pictures before they “read words.” (Birckmayer, Kennedy, and Storehouse, 2008).
Sharing a book or story

Reading to individual child

Reading to several children

Large group (passing by reading)

Making a personal reading place in book area

Reread and repeat the enjoyment

Culturally interesting

Stories Told
Using words without a book or illustrations

Good eye contact

Can extend or confine based on interest

Active participation

Sounds and phrases repeated

Joyful experience

Example: The Great Gigantic Turnip

From: Tell it Again 2. Isbell

Repeated phrases:

It won’t come up, It won’t come up,

Pull! Pull! Pull!
Music to light up the brain and tame the toddler
Listening to music: providing a variety of genre, vocal, band, jazz, etc.

Moving to music: Example Musical Freeze

Singing around the tune

Using musical instruments: drum, rhythm sticks, bells, rattles, pot lids, hand sounds.

Music throughout the day -

Transition (Clean up song)

Welcome (Good morning to you)

Circle time (This little song of mine)

Music areas

Guest musicians: These can range from a teacher who plays the guitar, to fifth grade band members.

Words and Motions -

Example: Mulberry Bush

Variations: Wash our clothes, wash our face, wash the floor, wash our dog, etc.

A wonderful combination: Books that include Music

A growing number of books are appearing in the market that are familiar songs and have illustrations to accompany the words. These provide beginning opportunities for toddlers to turn pages, read illustrations and sing the song.

It can provide an opportunity to be successful----- and build book skills.

Some great ones are:

This little light of mine.

This land is your land.

Over in the meadow.

All on Isbell’s CD

You don’t have to be a professional teller, singer, or musician to turn on the interest of infants and toddlers. Your spirit and enthusiasm will spark their growing possibilities and build a framework for new understandings.


Birckmayer, J., Kennedy, A., & Stonehouse, A. (2008). From lullabies to literature: Stories in

the lives of infants and toddlers. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
Child’s Play. (2001). If you’re happy and you know it. Heshan, China: Child’s Play

(International) Ltd.

Child’s Play. (2001). Head, shoulders, knees and toes. Heshan, China: Child’s Play

(International) Ltd.

Laden, N. (2000). Peek-a who? San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Lionni, L. (2003). Let’s Play. Board books. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Lloyd, D., & Voake, C. (1988). Duck. New York: Lippincott.
Isbell, R. (2014). CD: Songs too Good To Miss. Soony recordings.
Raines, S.C., & Isbell, R.T. (2000). Tell it again! 2: Easy-to-tell stories with activities for young

Children. Beltsville, MD: Gryphon House.
Rosen, M., & Oxenbury, H. (1989). We’re going on a bear hunt. New York: Little Simon.
Stein, D.E. (2009). Pouch! New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Willems, M. (2007). Knuffle Bunny too: A case of mistaken identity. New York: Hyperion

Books for children.

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