That is the Question. Or…is it?
Shakespeare figured out in the 15th century that rhyme was a very powerful technique when writing comedy, history, tragedy and poetry.
He used rhyme for one character and blank verse for another to emphasize character differences. He used rhyme when two characters were falling in love as the rhyme grew increasingly more present.
Why should we continue to write rhyme today?
Young children need a hefty dose of rhyme in their early language development to help them flourish in verbal and phonemic awareness skills. They learn by repetition and rhythm through a read-it-out-loud quality language that evokes a sense of fun and playfulness yet is very powerful in its impact on their ability to learn to read.
“Two glowing eyes sneak-peak in the den. Mouse cries, “Who’s there and a hare hops in.
“Ho, Mouse!” says hare. Long time, no see!” So they pop white corn. And they brew black tea.”
Rhyming picture books are the absolute perfect genre for pre-readers! They are meant to be read aloud. The illustrations are meant to tell half the story. This gives a new or hesitant reader context clues to help them along as does the rhyme.
Bad truck Bad guy
Bad wave Bad bye”
Good tree Good sky
Good friend Good bye”
Rhyme lends itself to predictability which gives the child a sense of security, confidence and encourages them to try new words. They learn to associate letter recognition with sounds and soon attempt to read sight words. Rhyme is the magic ticket here!!
“My name is Max,” the prince announced,
his manner prim and snooty.
With shoulders squared,
Prince max declared,
“I’m here for Sleeping ________.”
I could spout countless educational articles to prove that rhyme is essential to learning to read. Over the past 20 years, using Nursery Rhymes to teach language skills has diminished in the curriculum due to time restraints, Common Core, and testing. There is a reason these rhymes of days gone by were so important. The rhyme helped kids memorize the verses and chanting the sing-songy phrases in chorus taught them to read…and they didn’t even know it was happening. Why? Because it was fun!
Then Silver Claw, he licked his jaw and rubbed his trusty hook.
“One brimming pail each day you sail. You’ll be our galley cook.”
Moo loved the way the ocean sang. “Like Moo-sic,” she would utter,
as rocking, rolling ocean waves would churn her milk to butter.
As a writer, I know that adding rhyme and poetic techniques to my writing will give the reader an experience they can’t otherwise get. The playful words, assonance, consonance, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, internal rhyme and repeating phrases all add to the treasure of a spectacular rhyming picture book.
(ex. polite/fight and kicks/tricks)
“Pig Three faced the wolf and bowed deeply (for Ninjas are very polite).
“Quit huffing and puffing and I am not bluffing. I warn you, I’m willing to fight.”
She then gave a swift demonstration with backflips and butterfly kicks.
The wolf looked quite shaken, but hollered, “Yo Bacon. I’m not at all scared of your tricks.”
Misconceptions About Writing in Rhyme
It’s about the rhyme.
People who write in rhyme are wanna-be-writers.
It’s NOT about the rhyme. It’s about the story. Writing quality rhyming picture books is more challenging than writing in prose. Rhyming picture books must follow ALL the same rules as prose picture books and… must have perfect, clever rhyming words, internal rhyme, rhythm, rhyme scheme, poetic techniques, frolicking language and much more! Not easy at all when done well!
So is there really a question of whether to rhyme or not to rhyme?
There is NO question. Rhyme wins every time!
Angie is donating one scholarship for her brand new rhyming course: Writing in Rhyme to WOW!
To be eligible, you must be a fully registered participant, comment on this post, read daily, and keep records of your progress.
Angie Karcher is a former kindergarten teacher, developmental therapist, and author of WHERE THE RIVER GRINS and THE LEGENDARY R.A.COWBOY JONES. She is represented by Kendra Marcus of BookStop Literary and is the founder of RhyPiBoMo, Rhyming Picture Book Month, held annually in April. Registration is now open and ends April 8.