|YOUNG CHILDREN | July 2014|
Rap and Young Children: Encouraging Emergent Literacy
|by Barbara Rando, Evelyn A. O'Connor, Karen Steuerwalt, and Michelle Bloom|
The kindergartners have just finished their morning routines and are about to go to centers when Barbara asks, “Beatrice, what’s your favorite rap?”
“Who else thinks that the Rosa Parks rap is their favorite?” Barbara asks.
Three other children raise their hands. Barbara says, “Please get your rap books from your cubbies and then meet at the red table.” When the children are assembled, Barbara asks them to turn to the Rosa Parks rap: “What letter can you look for at the beginning of the name Rosa to help you find the right rap? When you find it, put your finger on it.”
When all the children identify the uppercase R in the title of the Rosa Parks rap, Barbara distributes red grease pencils and the children circle the letter they found.
Teachers frequently look for ways to motivate and direct young children’s attention so they can learn about print concepts. Music is an effective way to engage children, and it supports both phonemic awareness and language development (Schön et al. 2008; Bolduc 2009; Trollinger 2010). Similarly, writing and chanting raps can motivate and support young children’s literacy learning.
Rap is a form of rhythmic poetry that entertains and conveys information. In today’s society, rap is often thought of as an expressional art form for adolescents and young adults. Through music and language, rap can support literacy development in early childhood classrooms. Rap can help emergent readers understand print concepts, phrasing, and fluency and gain phonemic awareness. In addition, the unique rhythm and chanting of the rap art form supports the development of oral language skills. Later, as children’s literacy experiences expand and their skills strengthen, rap helps them express their feelings and understandings about the nonfiction literature they have been exposed to, as well as storybooks with which they’ve become familiar.
Purpose-setting for reading is a strategic method that can deepen children’s understanding of biographies. Rap provides a purpose for reading. In the project that Barbara, the first author, led, kindergartners understood that their rapping told a true story about a memorable person . . . Continue reading
About the Authors
Barbara Rando, MS, a retired classroom teacher, has been an adjunct professor at Adelphi University, New York University, and Queens College in New York. email@example.com
Evelyn A. O'Connor, PhD, is a professor and director of the literacy program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Adelphi University, in New York. Her research focuses on emergent literacy, teacher professional development, and Reading Recovery. firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Steuerwalt, MA, is a lecturer and coordinator for the Elementary Education Master of Arts in Teaching program at Queens College, City University of New York. Karen has more than 20 years of experience in early childhood education. Her teaching focus is inquiry-based learning and connecting children to their natural world. Karen.Steuerwalt@qc.cuny.edu
Michelle Bloom, MEd, is a certified pre-K through grade 6 teacher. She has spent most of her career teaching in early childhood and primary grade classrooms.