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Whose Toes Are Those?

Updated: Feb 11

By: Haleigh Beaird, MMT, MT-BC


February is Black History Month and we are celebrating by sharing one of our favorite singable stories that features a black character. We also are including a list of children's books that highlight black characters or are written by black authors.

Baby reading books from library
Baby reading books from library

One of my daughter and I's favorite activities to do each day is read a book together in her rocker before nap and bedtime. This gives her the opportunity to have a routine in her day and expect the upcoming transition of bedtime without it being a surprise or having resistance. It also means that each week we get to visit the public library and select new and exciting books for the week. This has become a routine trip for us that allows her the opportunity to socialize with others and discover new things in a safe place that she is adapted to. Also the library is relatively quiet, which allows her to not get overstimulated and to interact with kids in her own way. It has definitely become one of our favorite activities as we get to sift through the 100's of colorful books our library offers and choose something new to dive into for each story time.



Before we dive into our singable story for this week, we also want to take some time to overview the benefits of reading to your children daily and all of the opportunities that can provide for them. Having our children read daily can introduce:

  • Labeling items in books verbally and non-verbally

  • Introducing them to language

  • Using their imagination

  • Morals and values

  • Fostering fine and gross motor skills it takes to point at pictures and turn pages

  • Rhyming, patterns, and a wider vocabulary

  • Call and response to questions the book may pose, which further develops comprehension, communication, and critical thinking

  • Bonding between parents and children

  • Routine and schedules

  • Increasing attention and concentration

  • Supporting brain development

  • A LOVE of reading!


This month we are celebrating Black authors and characters in our children's books because it is never too early to teach our children about diversity. Studies have shown that there are six month olds who are able to notice racial differences and that starting at age 2, toddlers can begin to observe racial biases. By age 5, some children have even experienced racial bias and are beginning to understand those actions. As parents, it can be hard to know how to appropriately address, introduce, and promote these conversations with our little ones. Using the books around us is always a great place to start as it can be developmentally appropriate and a source of information that children can understand. It has been shown that introducing diversity from a young age can help aid in:

  • Growing acceptance and kindness

  • Learning history

  • Discussing emotions and feelings

  • Addressing personal biases

  • Observing inequities

  • Empowering change in social issues

  • Increasing awareness

  • Questioning long-standing stereotypes

  • Promoting visibility of differences

  • Normalizing language and culture around different populations

  • Supporting mental health


Our book this month that we have created a song for is called "Whose Toes Are Those?" In this book, the author has highlighted the perfect opportunity to talk about body identification and awareness. The illustrations throughout the book show a little girl's feet that the reader can observe and count each of her toes. It also leaves opportunities for parents to engage with their children to identify and count the toes on the page or on their child's foot.


In our song, we created a melody that allows for the opportunity to count the toes on the page with your child, along with having them identify and show their own feet or toes! In this song, we also have a strong rhythmic beat to give the reader a guide to follow as they count the toes on the page.


Some of the goals that this book addresses are:

  • Body part identification

  • Counting

  • Call and response

  • Communication

  • Labeling

  • Rhythm

  • Comprehension


In recent years, representation of diverse stories and illustrations in children's literature has seen an increase. However, there are still times that it may be difficult for a parent to find books for their children that teach them about diversity and inclusion among peers or individuals they may meet day to day. At Reading Middle Grace, they share a comprehensive list of Picture Books by Black Authors that is a great starting point to find and introduce books to your children with black characters in their literature.


We can't wait to hear how you each can utilize "Whose Toes Are Those?" with your children this month!




What books do you read with your little ones that you would like Helpful Harmonies Music Therapy to create a song for?


Haleigh Beaird

Master in Music Therapy, Board Certified Music Therapist

haleigh@helpfulharmoniesmt.com

 

Sources

Husband, T. (2012). “I Don’t See Color”: Challenging Assumptions about Discussing Race with Young Children. Early Childhood Education Journal,39(6), 365-371.


Karrass, J., & Braungart-Rieker, J. (2005). Effects of shared parent–infant book reading on early language acquisition. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,26(2), 133-148.


Mott Young, A., Parker, D., Ansoanuur, F., Werner, I., & Banks, Y. (2021). Talking to Children About Race and Racism. JAMA Pediatrics,175(5), 544.


Torr, J. (2019). Infants’ Experiences of Shared Reading with Their Educators in Early Childhood Education and Care Centres: An Observational Study. Early Childhood Education Journal, 47(5), 519–529. https://doi-org.ezp.twu.edu/10.1007/s10643-019-00948-2



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