Rhyming is so important for children to understand and play with language. These books tell great stories and have great rhymes. March 1st is Read Across America Day and while most people focus on Dr. Seuss books (his birthday is the 2nd) I thought I would put together a list of great picture books that rhyme. It’s a sort of homage to Dr.Seuss and his rhyming legacy. Do you have a favorite book that rhymes we didn’t include? Tell us about it in comments!
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesn’t know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isn’t always bad, he starts to dance! This has been a favorite in our house for years because the illustrations are fun and the rhyming text has the perfect pace to keep the story going.
Parts by Tedd Arnold is so funny. Readers follow along as a 5-year-old boy begins noticing things about his body he’d never noticed before. Such as belly button lint, snot, peeling skin and more. His anxious assumptions about his body falling apart will have you in stitches. My 2-year-old laughed and got most of the humor. But slightly older children will be laughing hysterically at how silly the little boy’s worries are.
How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton is a favorite in our house and has been for both my kids. I love the felt illustrations. The detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text. My daughter loves taking this one in the stroller while I run. And because it’s a board book I can give it to her without worrying that after a few miles it’s ripped and ruined.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont is guaranteed to entertain your child, even my toddler was laughing and anticipating the rhyming text which tickled me to no end! Now I have had some parents in the past not be happy about the use of “ain’t” and the little boy in the story painting everywhere, I would counter that by saying people do use “ain’t” and kids do paint on things they aren’t supposed to you can use this as an example of what you aren’t supposed to do, and ask your child what they think should happen if they painted all over the house? As far as using “Ain’t” I would play the traditional “It ain’t gonna rain no more” and explain that the author used that song as inspiration for the book.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans was a childhood favorite and I remember being a little girl and thinking I want to be just like Madeline because she was so brave. She wasn’t afraid of anything and what always struck me was how proud she was of her scar. Something that little girls are told by society to hide because it makes us less than perfect physically yet Madeline hikes up her nightgown and shows it off. Of my childhood heroines Madeline was right up there with Anne Shirley, Annie, and Brigitta from Sound of Music. As a teacher and parent, I adore Bemelmans’ rhymes which at times are a stretch but in a way that gets kids thinking about what does and doesn’t rhyme.
Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone is a book I got to know very well when writing lessons for Itty Bitty Bookworm preschool curriculum using it. This is a really fantastic book that is filled with language arts, geography and math lessons. Granny is a traveler and everywhere she goes she picks up a number of souvenirs. Not only are a number of countries like Switzerland, Mexico and Peru visited, but the souvenirs she buys relate to the country’s culture and offer even more learning opportunities for interested kids. The rhyming text will enchant even the youngest world traveler, this is a must for any jet-setting family!
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton always makes me laugh. There is something about the facial expressions her animals always have that crack me up and lets me honest if the book is good for the adult reading it, it’s always a plus. Super bright colors on each page is a huge plus for my baby girl as I flip the pages, and even though she doesn’t get the humor yet she will soon enough and it’s a book that will grow with her.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her. Readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s calm, soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons. A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown isn’t an innovative choice but I make babies who love this book. My son could be “Goodnight Mooned ” to sleep as a baby if we simply recited the words and while my daughter isn’t at that point yet she sits happily listening to our voices as we read it to her. I will be the first to admit I didn’t always love this book but as a mom, it’s been more than a book, it’s been a signal to my son that it’s bedtime and I hope that it becomes part of my daughter’s routine soon too. The story is simple, it’s not even really a story so much as a baby bunny saying goodnight to all the objects in his room including the moon peeking in the window.
Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis made me cry. My husband would say that’s not exactly hard, but it is when it’s a book not many bring me to tears. I really like this book and so did my son which surprised me because I thought it would be too long and sophisticated for a 2-year-old. The rhyming text is well written and along with the adorable illustrations by Laura Cornell my son stayed happily interested as I read it to him before nap.
I thought that the message was going to be about race relations, but instead, it was about the rat race, and how it’s more important to try your best, help others and to be bold. The line “And for those who can’t speak for themselves use bold voices” was when I lost it. I hope that lesson is one I can teach my son, to stand up for others. Okay so maybe I am a softy but this book is great!
Firefighters: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell is a wonderful rhyming book all about the work firefighters do. After only reading it twice my son was rhyming along with the simple but well-crafted text. I liked that there was a mix of male and female firefighters, that the text incorporates information about equipment as well as tasks the firefighters complete on a call. The illustrations by Viviana Garofoli are one of my favorite things about this book. The soot on the faces of the rescued and firefighters, the unique angles used in the illustrations and the fun colors. Great book!
Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk is a quirky updated version of the classic lullaby. So many bedtime books are super sugary but this one is funky and bright! I love the space theme and the illustrations are great! The rhymes are funny and kept my son interested in the lullaby much longer than the traditional one which he deems a “baby song”.
My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple. A truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people. The illustrations make me giggle. Especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.
Baby Says “Moo!” by JoAnn Early Macken was a huge hit with my 2-year-old. I should warn you that she loves anything with a baby of any sort in it. She would have loved this book even if she wasn’t baby crazy. In it, the baby and family go from the city to the farm asking about the sounds the people and animals make around them. No matter what the baby says “Moo”. The text is sweet and rhymes and the bright, colorful illustrations are so adorable. Very sweet book for children learning about animal sounds.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. The reader is left wondering what’s next with each turn of the page. And if the reader is my son? He will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page.
There are other titles in the series, including; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book. Which in my opinion is a great review from a 6-month-old!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. Its text is musical, it’s premise is brilliant in its simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is “Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee.” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee. This book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do. My daughter points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text. So maybe you are thinking “What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes?” nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of its diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families. The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love. I adore that the diversity of the illustrations leaves the readers with the assumption we wish on the families in the book.
What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife. I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just an older mom. This is why I love this book. My daughter doesn’t see why this message is outstanding. What she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.
Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton is a favorite at our house. Normally even after my son and I read the books we review I grab them to do the write-up. This is on my son’s shelf where it always is. I know the whole thing off by heart as does my son, so no need to grab it for reference. The book is a rhyming masterpiece. Somehow keeping up the rhyming pace as it explains how firefighters fight fires and rescue people! Details like what gear they wear, and how hoses and hydrants work are included as well as ladders and sirens.
My son loves this book and as an adult who has read it hundreds of times. It’s fun to read, even over and over again. We also love all the other books in the series like Cool Cars and Terrific Trains. It’s completely worth checking out anything they do!
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss is a big hit at our house and if you have a child into music or musical instruments this is a great book. You count the instruments as they come on stage for a performance. Not only is this a great counting book. It introduces musical instruments in its rhyming text and super fun pictures. I am maybe a little biased, but my little man is really really into instruments and loves this book. The day we bought it I had to sit in the back with him on the way home. He was so excited that he couldn’t wait to read it.
Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman is a really fun and educational book. The book is a new spin on the old song “Ten in A Bed”. But instead of squeezing onto a bed these cold weather animals pile on and off the sled one at a time. What is wonderful from an educational sense is not just the obvious counting element. But as each animal exists the sled the verb used for each animal begins with the same letter as the animal does. This was fantastic for my son who wanted to sound every animal and verb out. Add a fun rhyming sing-song text and this is a great option for a holiday gift.
One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root looks like an everyday book, but inside you will find a brilliantly repetitive storyline, that promotes teamwork, and mathematical skills! A duck gets stuck in the muck and while others are eager to help the duck isn’t unstuck until they all work together. My class was nuts about this book a few years ago and my son has greatly enjoyed it since infancy. Don’t pass this book up.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. All of Dr. Seuss’s books are worthy of praise, and children really do love the melodic and brilliant rhymes. I love that often you can’t quite tell if a character is a woman or a man. They have no obvious race which makes them universal and inclusive. I love “Green Eggs and Ham” because of it’s limited wording. While there are only 50 words used in the whole book, its easy rhymes make it a great choice for learning about rhyming. Also, the words used are so simple that it’s a fabulous book for emergent readers.
Dinosaur Roar! Board Book by Paul and Henrietta Stickland and is a board book that I’ve read often enough that I don’t need to look at the book. The premise is simple, using 2 different dinosaurs every page illustrates a pair of opposites. Toddlers and young preschoolers adore this book and I can’t blame them, it’s adorable and a great tool for teaching! My son loves how funny the illustrations are and clearly enjoys the rigidity of the opposite concepts.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague is a beautifully illustrated story about the tantrums and dramatics that dinosaurs put their parents through at bedtime. I really like this book because it asks if dinosaurs do all these naughty things. And kids love to point out what the dinosaurs shouldn’t be doing. Of course, in the end, the dinosaurs remember their manners and go to bed with hugs and kisses and the lights off!
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha is my favorite garbage truck book, and yes I have read a lot. Mr. Gilly is a hard working garbage man with one task, to clean up Trashy town. The text is so melodic I find myself singing while reading “Dump it in, Smash it down, drive around the trashy town”. It’s not all trashy time for Mr. Gilly, though after a hard days work cleaning up Trashy town he gets into his bubble bath! My son loves that this big garbage collector has a bath just like him. Super sweet and colorful book that explains garbage collection is a nice way.
Do you have any picture books that rhyme that your children love? Share them in the comments below! Or stop over on my Facebook page and share them there!
For more quick tips on helping your child learn to read check out my book; Raising A Rock-Star Reader. It is packed with fun ideas for families, book lists, and advice for parents.