I love introducing readers to new books for kids, and today, I’m excited to introduce you to someone whose own love of children’s books inspires her music. Meet Emily Arrow!
Emily Arrow is a music educator, singer, and songwriter who has carved out her own musical niche she calls kidlit tunes. You already know how I feel about children’s books, and many of you have seen the plentiful ukuleles that adorn the walls of our home. So, when I first heard this talented, ukulele-strumming artist singing a song about Be a Friend, I became an immediate fan.
Ukuleles + Kid Lit = YES!
I had a chance to catch up with Emily and ask her a few questions about her music. She had some great things to share about her sources of inspiration, favorite books, and more.
What inspired you to write music based on children’s books? It’s certainly a unique niche!
As a classroom music teacher, I began using my favorite picture books in the classroom in conjunction with my music units. For example, for Earth Day, I read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Then I wanted to infuse music into each lesson that involved literature. After scouring the internet for resources and finding virtually nothing, I decided to create my own songs to go with books! I then began offering storytimes at local bookstores and developed my style, and ultimately genre, of kidlit tunes.
What artists/singers/songwriters influence your music?
The most influential children’s musician I’m influenced by is Raffi. I was raised on his music, specifically his album pioneering a movement to respect the Earth and its resources. His message-driven music gives me inspiration to create music that’s simple and meaningful to all ages.
Music is a huge part of our family’s life. I started singing to my kids before they were born, and this blog is named after the Bob Dylan song that was our morning anthem all through their preschool years (though we usually sang the Elizabeth Mitchell version). Now our home is filled with instruments and music of all kinds. How do you encourage families to incorporate music into their daily lives? What about parents who don’t feel particularly musically-inclined themselves – any tips for sneaking more music into the day?
I love to hear how musical your home is!! YAAAAY! There are lots of fun ways to include music in the home, starting with accessibility. An instrument should be just as accessible as an iPhone in the home. Percussion instruments like drums, egg shakers, and tambourines encourage rhythm and musical participation. I also recommend creating playlists together – “coloring” playlist, “getting ready for school” playlist, “packing for a trip” playlist. This gives young listeners a sense of ownership over their music choices and builds a lovely relationship between experiences and music.
How about books? What are your favorite tips for sneaking in a little extra reading time with the family?
Not having a family of my own, I can imaging reading time is hard to come by. But I have a cool project that I recommend to parents of young readers: Video record yourself reading the story the night before during bedtime (or whenever your preferred reading time is). Then during the chaos of the day, why not sneak an extra read in by letting your kiddo watch? Parents tell me their kids get a kick out of this and it’s fantastic modeling for them to watch a read aloud-even if it’s their own parent!
What was your favorite book or books growing up? What are some of your favorites now (that aren’t featured in music on this album)?
So many! Growing up, I loved Corduroy by Don Freeman, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, and when I began reading on my own, I was obsessed with The Boxcar Children series.
What’s your favorite part of performing for children?
Audience participation. We make kazoo sounds, we yodel, we draw in the air, we basically do everything fun you ever wanted to do at a show but couldn’t because you’re an… adult.
I love Emily’s creative ideas for integrating music and reading into our homes. I think I need a “putting away laundry” playlist!
Emily’s debut album, Storytime Singalong, features songs based on some truly delightful picture books including Louise Loves Art, The Curious Garden and The Dot as well as several original pieces. The sweet and memorable songs are a great way to extend the pages of picture books for your youngest readers.
I’m giving away a copy of Emily Arrow’s award-winning Storytime Singalong to one lucky reader! If you’d like a chance to win the album, do any of the following for an entry in the random drawing:
1. Comment on this blog (or on the social media outlet you read this post) and share one way your family incorporates music or reading into your daily life.
2. Check out Emily’s YouTube Channel, then come back and let us know your favorite song!
3. Share this blog post.
Make sure to tag in me in any of the above options so I see it and add your name to the drawing!
If you’re not the lucky winner, you’re still a lucky reader because you can purchase your own copy of Emily’s album right here. The deadline for entries is March 31st at midnight CST. I’ll announce a winner on April 1st – no fooling. 😉 Good luck!