Quality picture books are a great way to encourage a love of reading, and expose young children to rich vocabulary from an early age. The ability to identify and produce rhyme is an important skill for learning to read. Luckily, there are so many wonderful books for teaching the essential skill of rhyme (and other phonological and phonemic awareness skills) through the use of simple rhyme, word families, similar sounds and funny rhyming stories.
The best rhyming books contain rich vocabulary or can be used for developing oral language skills and comprehension skills. Many can also be used to teach and develop social-emotional skills (e.g. All The Ways To Be Smart is one of my FAVOURITE books of all time, and Giraffes Can’t Dance is another wonderful book for teaching perseverance and determination). Some are simply silly and funny, and will have young kids laughing.
This list of books are some of the best children's books for teaching rhyme. They are a mix of great books from my own childhood, silly/funny books, Australian-themed books and books which can be used to complement literature units or social/emotional skill lessons. They will make an excellent addition to the rhyming activities in your classroom.
ALL THE WAYS TO BE SMART
One of my all-time favourite books for demonstrating the many, many different ways that kids can be smart - from kindness, to dancing, to making paper airplanes, to feeling scared but taking chances. This wonderful story is a great read for both younger children and older children.
'Every hour of every day, we're smart in our own special way'.
GIRAFFES CAN'T DANCE
A great book for teaching perseverance and determination. Gerald longs to go to the great Jungle Dance, but he doesn't know how to dance. This rhyming story is the perfect book for teaching children about being yourself, and finding your own tune.
'His hooves had started shuffling, making circles on the ground.
His neck was gently swaying and his tail was swishing round."
THE KOALA WHO COULD
A comedic rhyming story which is all about dealing with change and overcoming worries. Kevin the Koala discovers that if you step outside your comfort zone and try new things, you might surprise yourself!
"In a wonderful place, at the breaking of dawn,
where the breezes were soft and the sunshine was warm,
a place where the creatures ran wild and played free
A Koala called Kevin clung to a tree."
EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM
This classic rhyming book is a childhood favourite of mine, introducing characters from well-known stories such as the Three Bears, Mother Hubbard, and Tom Thumb. The book has strong rhythm and rhyme, and the kids will love trying to find the hidden characters in the pictures.
HAIRY MACLAREY FROM DONALDSON'S DAIRY
This classic story is another childhood favourite of mine! There are clever rhymes with the characters Hairy Maclary (from Donaldson's Dairy), Hercules Morse (as big as a horse), Muffin McLay (like a bundle of hay), Bottomley Potts (covered in spots), Bitzer Maloney (all skinny and bony), and Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum).
OI FROG, OI DOG and OI CAT
These stories are full of silly animals and hilarious rhymes which the kids will love!
'Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas, and frogs sit on logs'.
FROG ON A LOG?
Another hilarious book, where each animal's designated seat rhymes with that animal's name (e.g. cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas, and frogs sit on logs). However, frog doesn't want to sit on a log! This silly book is lots of fun, and perfect for complementing rhyme and phonics lessons.
DOG ON A FROG?
This hilarious story is the sequel to Frog on a Log, where the frog decides that not only does he not want to sit on a log, he does not want a frog to sit on a log! So, he changes the rules. This book contains lots of silly rhymes and more hilarious animal rhyme pairings, and is another fun way to complement phonics and rhyming lessons.
EDWARD THE EMU
This is another fun book which is great for teaching kids how to be comfortable with who they are. Edward the Emu is tired of being an emu, so he tries lounging with lions, slithering with snakes, and swimming with seals. Eventually, he realises that being an emu is the very best thing of all!
EDWINA THE EMU
A really sweet sequel to Edward the Emu. Edwina tries a variety of jobs, from chimney sweep to ballet dancer. This rhyming picture book is again full of rhythmic, rhyming verse which will complement your rhyming lessons.
OLGA THE BROLGA
Another funny book set in Australia, from the illustrator who brought us Edwina and Edward Emu. Olga the brolga is in a terrible mood. She desperately wants to dance, but no-one will dance with her. More rhythmic, rhyming verses, and bright illustrations from Rod Clement!
THE VERY CRANKY BEAR SERIES
The Very Cranky Bear, The Very Hungry Bear, and The Very Noisy Bear are much-loved stories by Nick Bland. Full of rich vocabulary and with plenty of opportunities for comprehension activities, these fun children's books about a brown bear are also written in rhyme, making them another great addition to your rhyming lessons!
PIG THE PUG SERIES
Another much-loved series by Aaron Blabey, full of fun rhymes. Whether you're reading the original (Pig the Pug) or some of the sequels (Pig the Fibber, Pig the Winner, Pig the Star, Pig the Grub or Pig the Blob), children of all ages will LOVE these stories, and there will be plenty of opportunities to consolidate rhyming skills too!
A classic rhyming story by Julia Donaldson about a mouse taking a walk in the woods. I always love using the Gruffalo for descriptive language lessons - the kids draw their own versions of the Gruffalo, based on the descriptive language in the book e.g. knobbly knees, poisonous wart at the end of his nose, purple prickles all over his back. The rhyming words will help to reinforce the concept of rhyming for young readers as well.
RHYMING DUST BUNNIES
The dust bunnies love to rhyme, except for poor old Bob, who can never get it right! The kids will laugh and correct Bob, and you'll be brainstorming lots of your own rhymes together!
ALIENS LOVE UNDERPANTS
Aliens love underpants, but there are no underpants in space, so they've come to Earth to try and steal your underpants! The kids will be giggling while you consolidate their rhyming skills!
DR SUESS BOOKS
Dr. Suess was the master of rhyme. Any Dr. Seuss book is sure to be jam-packed full of silliness and fun. From Green Eggs and Ham, to The Cat in the Hat, these books use simple words and similar sounds. The catchy rhyme and rhythm will help little readers to identify and understand rhyme.
WHO'S IN THE LOO?
Beware- this one is centred around a favourite topic of conversation for kids - toilets! Another silly rhyming book, this one is cheeky and funny, and chockablock full of rhyme!
THERE'S A BEAR ON MY CHAIR
Bear is on Mouse's chair. Mouse tries all sorts of tactics to move Bear off the chair, from glaring, to scaring, to luring him with a pear. A fun simple story with lots of rhyme.
NONI THE PONY
A rhyming tale which is all about friendship and social skills.
'Noni the Pony is friendly and funny.
Her shimmering tail is the color of honey'.
Everyone knows that piranhas don't eat bananas - except for Brian! This is another great rhyming book, full of silliness and laughs, as well as great rhymes!
TIPS FOR TEACHING RHYME WITH PICTURE BOOKS
As you’re reading, you might like to get children to raise their hands every time they hear a word that rhymes. You could also brainstorm additional rhyming words to the ones found in the book.
Rhyme is an important part of phonological awareness as it requires children to listen closely to the sounds in words. Rhyme progresses in a variety of stages:
3.Producing a rhyming word- can initially be both real and nonsense words
Do you want to take your Rhyme Lessons to the next level?
The Hive contains an ever-growing library of engaging and evidence-based activities, digital lessons, videos & interactive apps for teaching rhyme and phonics skills.
Here are some examples of some of the rhyming videos that you'll find: