New Picture Books in Rhyme Bring Family Fun to Your Storytime

Posted on May 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Baby and adult reading a book together

By Melissa Rhoades

For the first time in over two years, I’m presenting in-person Family Storytime programs. And I’m thrilled! It’s lovely to see big grins of all ages as we peek-a-boo, clap hands, and read new stories together.

Presenting storytimes again also gives me the perfect excuse to explore the new picture books added to our collection.

Believe it or not, we’ve purchased over 650 picture books between January 2021 and April 2022. That’s a pretty hefty amount for one person to peruse!

As a result, I’ve narrowed my focus for this post to discussing some of my favorite recent picture books in rhyme.

Why focus on rhyme?

For one thing, rhymes are a significant tool in early language acquisition. They help young children recognize that words are made up of smaller components. This is an important aspect of what early learning experts call “phonological awareness,” a fundamental building block towards literacy.

Recognizing smaller components in words helps children later sound out words as they develop more complex linguistic abilities and eventually begin to read.

Plus, rhymes are fun! They’re just plain pleasurable to read, speak, and hear. No wonder English speakers have been creating nursery rhymes for young children since at least the 1600s (and probably much earlier than that!).

For example, “Three Blind Mice,” was first published in 1609, and “Pat-a-Cake” was in print by 1698.

And if you’re looking for new tales, then the following eight picture books provide a great introduction to stories in rhyme published between January 2021 and April 2022.

Applesauce is Fun to Wear, written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by Jane Massey, celebrates the inevitably messy mealtimes of babies and toddlers. Short rhymes with precise rhythm accompany playful illustrations sure to cause knowing giggles between young ones and their adults.

While brief, this book offers plenty of opportunities for practicing basic vocabulary, including the names of body parts. The publisher recommends this book for ages up to 3. It’s perfect for toddlers.

Best Day Ever, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Leah Nixon, recounts a day in the life of a little boy’s dog. The day takes some emotional turns for both dog and boy before ending on a high note. The rhyming story is juxtaposed by repeated phrases that will be fun for little ones to repeat out loud.

I love that the little boy’s wheelchair is not part of the plot and is never mentioned in the text—a great way to illustrate inclusion! While the publisher recommends this book for ages 4 and older, I think some 3-year-olds will enjoy it too.

Hands On!, written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Alea Marley, follows a cute and bright-eyed baby on typical explorations and adventures that culminate in baby’s first steps.

This board book is sturdy enough for babies to handle and small enough that it works best for one-on-one interactions. Some of the activities depicted can be performed with your baby, like drumming on the floor and touching feet left, right, left. While the publisher recommends this book for ages up to 4, it’s mainly suited for babies and toddlers.

Home Is …, written by Hannah Barnaby and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, explores structures and environments in which animals and people find shelter and comfort.

The book includes shapes, opposites, and other fundamentals that are great for early learners. Its exacting rhythm is a pleasure to read out loud, and its illustrations offer ways to expand the conversation and ask young listeners open-ended questions. It is recommended for ages 3–8.

I’ll Hold Your Hand, written by Maggie C. Rudd and Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri, provides a truly sweet and heartwarming poem of unconditional love from adult caregivers to their children.

The lyrical text touches upon situations from profound to whimsical, underscoring the steadfastness of the message. The illustrations feature an adorable cast of diverse caregivers and children, each revealing scenarios that will be familiar and relatable to young people. It is recommended for ages 3–8.

More Than Sunny, written and illustrated by Shelley Johannes, explores the joys of all four seasons as two siblings explore their world in various kinds of weather.

Playful illustrations beautifully fill out a storyline written in terse verse. The feast of wordplay includes alliteration (the same beginning sounds) as well as rhyme. Clever use of simple words also allows adults to explore multiple meanings with young listeners (for example, what does it mean to feel ducky?). It is recommended for ages 4–8.

On the Day the Horse Got Out hearkens back to traditional nonsense rhymes that offer a respite from the rational requirements of most narratives.

This children’s book is the debut for writer and illustrator Audrey Helen Weber and features whimsical imagery depicting a series of strange events. The story includes a repeated chorus that littles ones will relish yelling out loud again and again. Brief, large print allows emerging and early fluent readers to begin reading the text themselves. It is recommended for ages 4–8.

One-Osaurus, Two-Osaurus, written by Kim Norman and illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby, offers a great way to get kids counting—and roaring. This straightforward numbers book depicts an assortment of prehistoric reptiles playing hide and seek, and then who should come along to find them but the tenacious Ten-Osaurus Rex.

Some pages reveal numbers in order and others show them jumbled, offering older children the opportunity to work out the numerical order themselves. It is recommended for ages 3–7.

These eight rhyming picture books are just a few of the over 100 added to SCLD’s collection since the start of 2021.

I want to note that you don’t need to limit rhyming time to just reading time. Several websites offer rhyming games to play with little ones when they’re not in the mood for books. Some require no props and can be played anywhere, anytime.

Here are some options to get started:

Do you have a beloved, go-to rhyming book or game? I invite you to list your favorites in the comments section.

Melissa Rhoades

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,