20 Songs to Develop Literacy Skills in Kids Ages 0 to 5

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20 Songs to Develop Literacy Skills in Kids Ages 0 to 5

Singing with little ones is a fun and easy way to help them develop literacy skills long before they’re ready to sit down and read a book. You can make sing-alongs a regular part of your day by incorporating them into your family’s routine. Below are some suggestions for songs to sing first thing in the morning, at mealtimes, on the go, at bathtime, and at bedtime. (All of these will also work well in library story time settings.)

Morning Songs

Mealtime Songs

  • Apples and Bananas
    Have fun with vowel sounds in this Raffi classic from his One Light, One Sun album.
  • Aikendrum
    There was a man lived in the moon and his face was made of all kinds of silly food.
  • C is for Cookie (or B is for Bagel or T is for Turkey)
    Reinforce letter knowledge and letter sounds by singing about the first letter of the foods you’re eating. (This song works best with two-syllable foods beginning with B, C, D, E, G, P, T, V, and Z.)
  • Going on a Picnic
    This call and response song allows you to sing about the foods your child likes best. It’s another Raffi favorite, from his Corner Grocery Store album.

On the Go Songs

Bathtime Songs

  • Row Row Row Your Boat
    Pretend to row a boat in the bathtub – and don’t forget to scream when you see an alligator!
  • This is the Way We Wash Our Hands
    Sing about each part of your child’s body as you wash it.
  • Rubber Ducky
    Serenade your child’s rubber ducky with another Sesame Street favorite.
  • Baby Beluga
    Help your child imagine he or she lives under the sea like the baby whale in this song, also by Raffi.

Bedtime Songs

  • All the Pretty Little Horses
    This pretty song introduces interesting horse-related vocabulary as it lulls your child to sleep.
  • Rockabye Baby
    Sing about your baby, then substitute animal names to make the song a little bit silly.
  • Little Boy Blue
    Teach your child a nursery rhyme and sing him to sleep at the same time.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    This song contains one of the first similes (“like a diamond in the sky”) your child will ever hear!

Do you sing with your child? Feel free to share some of your favorites in comments.

About Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald holds degrees in English and library science, and has worked in small town and big city libraries, serving both children and teens. You can read her book reviews and posts about story time, picture books, and early literacy at Story Time Secrets. Also follow her blog on Facebook for kidlit quotations, story time suggestions, and interesting links.


  1. June Krell says:

    I really enjoy Goodnight on Victor Vito, for ending PJ Story Time.

  2. I needed this list on Saturday! I was cuddling a friends 15 week old and do you think I could remember any songs I used to sing to my own babies? 🙂

  3. We sing every day and nearly every night.
    I like to change the words to songs that I like, to get my little ones to like them too.
    And we sing Everything!! From The Stellas & The Dixie Chicks, to The Lumineers & Ed Sheeran, to Bob Marley, to Raffi.
    And anything Annie!
    My kids think I am crazy but the best.
    They are 5, 4 & 4 🙂

  4. Kathy Hoglen says:

    I am a newly retired Pre-K teacher of 34 years. I would sing all my directions for activities and transition times to tunes I made up or piggy-backed from other songs. It worked like a charm and just made for a kinder gentler environment.

  5. Thanks for these list of songs. My son luv these books, “”Today is Monday by eric carle. Can u recommend any other singing books or a website that list them. Thank you

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