Read-Along Songs

featuring 6 books and a CD:
  • A, You’re Adorable, retold and illustrated by Martha Alexander
  • Miss Mary Mack, retold by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
  • Hush Little Baby, retold and illustrated by Sylvia Long
  • We All Go Traveling By, by Sheena Roberts, illustrated by Siobhan Bell
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider, retold and illustrated by Iza Tripani
  • Over in the Meadow, retold and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
  • CD of all the books read aloud by Cal Walker and sung by John Simon

The Read-Along Songs program was developed to connect children and families with the joy of words and books with rhyming and rhythm, inviting families to literacy through music. From 2007 through 2016, children in low-income based pre-school programs in Tompkins County, NY, received a bright blue book bag filled with six beautiful books and a CD of the books being both read aloud and sung. The same set of books and CD was also given to classroom teachers so that children see and hear the set in both school and home. Funding for this program was secured through local foundations, businesses, and individuals so that children and classrooms could receive this set of books and CD as a gift.

Objectives for Children
  • Increase interest in and affection for books
  • Increase rhyming ability
  • Increase knowledge of alphabet
  • Increase vocabulary
  • Increase attention span
  • Increase background knowledge
  • Expose children to greater expressive communication and receptive language
Objectives for Families
  • Provide families with auditory modeling of songs and reading aloud
  • Increase parent/adult time engaged with their children around books
  • Increase positive verbal interactions with children–talking and singing–as family centered activities
  • Reading and singing will become part of everyday family routines
  • Introduce families to the fun and entertainment in books
Objectives for Schools and Programs
  • Support teachers and schools by providing this literacy enhancement at school and at home
  • Strengthen the bridge between home and school with a book and singing connection
Project Background

In 2007, a committee of early education professionals from TCA Head Start, TST BOCES Even Start, and ICSD Pre-K, along with local singer/songwriter John Simon and (former) Village at Ithaca Executive Director Cal Walker, carefully chose six different children’s books that were also favorite playground tunes or remakes of old bedtime songs to be a part of the program.

A CD was produced by Hiltronex Studios with John Simon playing guitar and singing the books and Cal Walker reading the books in his rich, animated voice. As funding allowed, John Simon and Cal Walker, affectionately known as “Simon and Calfunkle,” visited classrooms to sing and read to both children and parents, deepening the impact of the program.

Measures of Success

“When I arrived for our visit, the mom immediately told me how much her son loves the book We All Go Traveling By. They read the book together while I was there. Mom had her son help her ‘read’ the book by making the sound effects.”
-Head Start home visitor

“These books have made a huge difference in the amount of time my parents are spending reading to their children. These books have become treasured keepsakes, and are being kept on the bookshelves, and proudly displayed.”
-Even Start home educator

“Because of the Read-Along Songs program my daughter can now follow along with the book and CD and even knows when to turn the page! Autism is not stopping her! She is growing through books and I am so proud!”
– Parent of a pre-schooler

Read about this program in an Ithaca Journal article, November 17, 2007