By Shelley Harris, Children’s Librarian
The grasshopper chirpeth, the lamb bleateth, the owl hooteth. Animal sounds are found in so many books and songs for children, including the first-known picture book written for children, published in 1659!
What makes animal sounds so important that they’ve been taught to young children for centuries? Not only are they fun and engaging to say and hear, but they help kids hear and practice some of the many sounds that make up their language.
Sounds build together to create syllables, which create words. So being able to hear those different sounds and syllables helps kids break down words to decode and understand them when they’re ready to read.
Below are a few activities you can do together to have fun with sounds.
Watch these videos
In this first video, I took a walk around Petrifying Springs Park, and we mimicked the sounds of a lot of things we see. What sounds can you imitate on walks around down?
In this second video, I made up silly animal sounds. Do fish really go “boop boop boop”?
Try these activities
- The ability to play with sounds and later use them to build and decode words is a skill that educators call phonemic awareness. Reading Rockets has a great page that gives in-depth information and activity ideas.
- The Center for Early Literacy Learning also has fantastic caregiver resources for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The guides come in English and Spanish. This toddler guide to sound play (PDF) is a lot of fun!
Read & listen to these books
Looking for fun books with animal sounds? Try these!
- Marie Torres Cimarusti’s Peek-A series is a favorite of your librarians, and often used in storytimes.
- Listen to real animal sounds on Hoopla! How do they sound the same or different from how you say them?
- Explore animal sounds from around the world on Hoopla: What kind of animal says GAV-GAV in Russian, Bo-Bo in Hindi, and WOW-WOW in Spanish?
Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.