Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Evidence-Based and Child-Friendly: Shared Book Reading with Chants Support Young Children's Language and Literacy Development

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Evidence-Based and Child-Friendly: Shared Book Reading with Chants Support Young Children's Language and Literacy Development

Article excerpt

Studies indicate thoughtfully planned chants integrated with shared book reading help young children remember concepts and vocabulary they hear in literature, capture children's imagination, develop their rhyming acuity, and background knowledge, and increase their sense of story structure, understanding of story sequence, phonological awareness, auditory memory, and expressive language. In this article the author describes her participation with young children in a shared book reading session integrated with a chant she created to highlight the main story character. The author also explains how teachers can choose books appropriate for chant accompaniments. In addition, she shows how easy it is for teachers to create chants, and offers ideas to extend shared book reading with chants to include music, movement, visual art, and print text.

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Young children's language and literacy development is highly correlated with their future school achievements (Strickland & Riley-Ayers, 200; Wasik, 2010). Therefore, early childhood teachers look for evidence-based pedagogical approaches to promote young children's language and literacy growth. Considerable research indicates thoughtfully planned chants can nurture young children's language and literacy progress (Bolduc, 2006; Bolduc & Montesinos-Gilet, 2005; Gromko, 2005; Lamb & Gregory, 1993). Chants are the rhythmic speaking of sounds, words, or rhymes in unison (Buchoff, 1994). A chant is any group of words recited with a lively predictable beat that typically follows a 1,2,3,4 rhythm pattern with a stronger emphasis, or stress on certain words or syllables and less emphasis on other words or syllables (Forster, 2006). Chants usually contain lyrics with considerable repetition of words, phrases, and sentences (Graham, 2008).

Chants have long been recognized as "fun and child-friendly tools in both first and second language acquisition" (Forster, 2006, p. 63). Studies show lyrics in chants can help young children learn and remember concepts and words they hear in literature and encounter in print (Buchoff, 1994). Chants also capture children's imagination, develop their rhyming acuity, and background knowledge, and increase their sense of story structure, understanding of story sequence, phonological awareness, auditory memory, and expressive language (Bolduc & Montesinos-Gilet, 2005; Fisher, McDonald, & Strickland, 2001; Kouri, & Telander, 2008; Yopp, 1992). In addition, chants can serve as advance organizers (Ausubel, 1960) that provide opportunities for young children to pronounce unfamiliar vocabulary and anticipate information they will hear in children's literature (Neuman, 2006). Furthermore, repetitive language in chants helps children become familiar with the syntax of English (i.e., conventional order of words in sentences) (Graham, 2008). Moreover, chants provide additional linguistic reinforcement for hearing and vision impaired children, those with limited exposure to language experiences that supports vocabulary and children who have problems processing and remembering language (Kaderavek & Justice, 2000; Paquette & Rieg, 2008; Peregoy & Boyle, 2008; Register, 2001).

Shared Book Reading with Chants

In my former work as an early childhood teacher, I recognized my students enjoyed creating nonsense rhymes and playing with sound patterns and chants (e.g., see Christie, Enz, & Vukelich, 2011). They also liked to clap, hop, wiggle, and jump when they heard a catchy beat, or created their own rhythm. Now, as a literacy professor and researcher who often works with young children, I have found an effective and evidenced based way to enhance children's language and literacy growth is to tap into their natural affinity for language play and rhythm and engage them in shared book reading accompanied by chants. Shared book reading is similar to storybook read alouds, but with more extensive, in-depth, detailed teacher-children interactions (Beaty & Pratt, 2011). …

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