Lately, I have been spending a lot of time focusing on phonological awareness, especially with the kindies and some of my older struggling readers. I am amazed at the number of kids who have difficulty hearing and playing with sounds in words, a skill which is fundamental to future reading success. Without the ability to recognize syllables, hear and produce rhymes and easily chunk words, students stagnate as reading gets harder (our Learning Disabilities teacher noted that she really notices the effects of weaknesses in these skills at level J/K, when the words become multi-syllabic & often contain many prefixes and suffixes; watch for this in your own students.).
My theory is that kids are spending less time listening to "kids' music" (Raffi, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Charlotte Diamond, etc), which heavily emphasizes rhyme and word play (remember the oldie but goodie "John, John, Bo Bohn, Banana Fana Fo Fohn"?) and are therefore practicing these skills less. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that way to me.
The strange thing is, rhyming songs & books are fun! For the longest time they were all my husband would read to our girls because he enjoyed them more than non-rhyming ones. Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton and so many others are some of the most giggle-inducing books you can read to young ones! So here is a list of wonderful rhyming books to read at home and at school...hopefully there are at least one or two new ones you can add to your collection.
Charlie Cook's Favourite Book (Julia Donaldson) - All of Julia Donaldson's books are amazing and many (The Gruffalo) are better known than this one. What I love about Charlie Cook (other than the rhymes, of course. Watch out for greedier rhymed with encyclopedia, though; it only works in a British accent) is the circular nature of the story; we start and end with a boy named Charlie Cook, who both reads and is in a favourite book. A great lead in to a creative writing lesson, especially when paired with the If You Give a...(Laura Numeroff) series.
On Market Street (Arnold & Anita Lobel) - This wonderful book opens & closes with rhyme but in between it explores the alphabet - it doesn't get any better than that for developing early literacy skills! The illustrations are mesmerizing and would make an excellent model for an alphabet art project for many different grade levels.
The World Champion of Staying Awake (Sean Taylor) - I bought this for my youngest daughter, who truly is the world champion of staying awake. Soothing bits of rhyming text are interspersed with a cute story of a little girl putting her stuffies to bed. Some great opportunities for connections and a chat about the importance of sleep, plus the lovely rhymes about dream-like places. I find this one quite calming to read.
Moo, Baa, La La La, Belly Button Book & Barnyard Dance (Sandra Boynton) - Sandra Boynton is ubiquitous in the world of books for little ones. She has so many books, CDs and apps that it is hard to keep track of them all! These are a few of our favourites - funny, rolicking rhymes that beg to be sung, chanted and played with. A must for any toddler on your list but fun for kids of all ages.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes & Hello Baby! (Mem Fox) - These lovely books strike the perfect balance between funny & sweet for the wee-est of readers. Start all those new little babies in your life off right with these great little rhyming books.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault) - This kindergarten classic explores the alphabet through a rhythmic chant, that, you guessed it, rhymes. The accompanying CD features a reading by Ray Charles, as well as some great extras from the authors about how the book came about. There are, of course, tons of related classroom activities that can be found online, so this book is a great intro to a unit on rhyming in your class.
Hide and Squeak (Heather Vogel Frederick) - This cute little book about a mouse daddy trying to get his mouse baby in to bed features some great repeating rhymes -"It's time for bed. It's time for sleep. No more time for hide-and-squeak." The adventures of the little mouse baby should spark some connections, if not for the kiddos, then for the adults who try to put them to bed every night.
No Matter What (Debi Gliori) - This book should also spark some great connections for kids and adults alike. Small is grumpy and worried that Large doesn't love him (her? this detail is unclear, probably intentionally) so Large proceeds to reassure Small that Small will always be loved, "no matter what". A great book for talking about love or just cuddling up with your littles.
There's a Wocket in My Pocket; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? (Dr. Seuss); Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb (Al Perkins) - No list of rhyming books would be complete without Dr. Seuss (I include Al Perkins on this list because it is part of a collection of Bright and Early Board Books that are primarily written by Dr. Seuss). These are some of my favourite Dr. Seuss books for young readers because they are some of the most concrete and simple to understand; many of Dr. Seuss' books (The Lorax, for example) are too long and complex for young kids to understand. If you're looking for books to introduce students to rhyming, Dr. Seuss is always a good place to start.
Get out there and get rhyming!
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about literacy, collaborative teaching and finding new and innovative ways to engage & motivate all kids. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!