Rhyming is important to learning. The ability to recognise rhyme is important to phonemic awareness – that is the ability to identify and to change the sounds within words, in both spoken and written language. Both anecdotal and researched evidence suggests that being familiar with rhyme helps children to detect the small, phonetic components that make up words, and that this detection is an essential skill to learning to read and write.
From a young age children can learn to recognise, first aurally and then in print form, that cat sounds like mat. They detect the ‘at’ word segment and will generally be then able to also hear that hat and bat and fat are also part of the ‘at’ word family. As words that sound similar are generally spelled similarly, children who make this type pf important connection are in a prime position when it comes time to begin to formally learn to read, making inferences about new and unfamiliar words as they read – if dog and log have an ‘og’ sounds, then so might frog or hog.
Exposure to rhyme also helps children to develop listening and thinking skills, and vocabulary and comprehension skills, and despite all of that learning potential, rhyming picture books are often just GREAT fun to read – with silly story lines and fun with language. Here is a huge list of our favourites.
A Great Big List of Rhyming Picture Books
The Very Cranky Bear, The Very Itchy Bear, The Very Hungry Bear, and The Very Noisy Bear by Nick Bland
We love this series of books about the adventures of a rather cranky bear and his four dear friends.
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd
My Miss 4 loves every book in the very fabulous Hairy Macleary and Friends series. Hairy and his five fabulous doggy friends enjoy all manner of riotous adventures from the original story, to the very fabulous Hairy Maclary’s Bone through to a firm favourite, Rumpus at the Vet, and never forgetting Scattercat and Slinki Malinki, It is actually impossible for us to pick just one favourite!
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
Aged four and nine my girls both love this book! ‘Hey there guys. Would you like a banana? What’s wrong with you, Brian? Youre a Piranha.’ Can Brian the vegetarian piranha convince his friends to pass on the bums and give fruit a try??!
Pig the Pug, Pig the Fibber, Pig the Winner and Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey
Children love Pig the rather naughty pug. He’s more than a little greedy and selfish (Pig the Pug), tells fibs (Pig the Fibber), cheats and is a very sore loser (Pig the Winner) but his naughty plans never quite work out the way Pig hopes they will with very entertaining results.
Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman
Follow the line through the book as it travels along with the simple rhyming text to transform on each page – from waves in the ocean to the veins of a leaf.
Oi Frog by Kes Gray and Jim Field, Oi Dog by Kes and Claire Gray
“It’s very simple, really. Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas, and frogs sit on logs.” But Frog does not want to sit on a log! This very silly story will have children of all ages in fits of laughter.
How Many Legs? by Kes Gray
Children of all ages will enjoy the funny rhyme and hilarious animal characters of How Many Legs? with older children engrossed with the challenge of remembering just how many legs there are!
The Gruffulo by Julia Donaldson
A clever mouse outwits a series of forest animals who rather fancy him for their tea with the story of a terrible gruffalo. A longstanding favourite in our house.
What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson is a master of rhyme and this fabulous romp through a farmyard as the animals band together to stop a team of rascally robbers from stealing the farmer’s fine prize cow.
The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson
The singing mermaid is tricked by the greedy circus owner into joining the circus and soon dreams of returning to the sea. How will she escape and how will she make it back to her beloved silver sands?
Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen
This is the delightful story of five animal friends who decide to go for a row on the bay. Do you know who sank the boat?
Mr McGee and the Blackberry Jam by Pamela Allen
Mr McGee’s quest to find blackberries for his jam takes him on a rather daring adventure.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
I’ve long loved this wonderful rhyme featuring a host of well known fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters hiding in the illustrations.
Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough
“Eddie’s off to find his teddy. Eddie’s teddy’s name is Freddie.” When Eddie heads into the woods to look for his lost teddy bear, he is surprised by what he finds.
Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
Zany, silly fun, this is one rhyming story that is sure to make your kids laugh out loud.
Some Dogs Do by Jez Alborough
“All dogs walk and jump and run, but dogs don’t fly-it can’t be done.” Or maybe it can. A memorable book with a special secret at the end.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
“In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived 12 little girls in 2 straight lines.” This classic story needs little introduction having captivated generations of children since it was first published in 1958.
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
On a cold winter night the animals gather to party in the cave of a sleeping bear but when Bear wakes he protests that he has missed the fun! Can Bear be persuaded to join the party?
Noni the Pony by Alison Lester
“Noni the Pony is friendly and funny. Her shimmering tail is the color of honey.” A beautiful rhyming tale about friendship.
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
“”Beep! Beep! Sheep in a jeep on a hill that’s steep.” When five foolish sheep take a drive in a jeep, the results are hilarious for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
His friends help the very glum Pout Pout Fish learn that it is not his destiny to spread the dreary wearies.
Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles
When Edward the Emu tires of life as an emu he decides to try out the lifestyles of the other animals in the zoo!
My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton
This is such a fun, rhyming story and it is perfect for beginning readers – in fact, it was the first book my big girl decoded independently so it holds a special place in my heart. All about the crazy actions of cats around the world.
Some Dads by Nick Bland
A fun and silly book about the facts that Dads come in all shapes, sizes and personalities.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
Our favourite of favourites when it comes to Seuss. Who couldn’t love this fun tale of Sam I Am and his green eggs and ham??!
Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss
A fabulous first book for beginning readers, the simple rhyming prose and creative illustrations make this book a hit throughout the generations.
Don’t Forget the Bacon! by Pat Hutchins
“Six farm eggs, a cake for tea, a pound of pears, and don’t forget the bacon.” I love this classic for its clever and playful use of rhyme.
I Went Walking by Sue Williams
This simple, delightful rhyme will delight preschoolers as they follow a small boy’s romp through the countryside.
Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland
Through punchy rhyming verse young readers are introduced to a series of dinosaurs, comparing their differences.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen
Children all around the world will relate to the antics of these dinosaur ‘children’ at bedtime!
Parrot Carrot by Jol and Kate Temple
“Here is a parrot. Here is a carrot. Here is a parrot that looks like a carrot.” Silly rhymes and funny illustrations make this simple book a hit with preschoolers.
Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton
So many of Sandra Boynton’s books feature wonderfully engaging rhymes for young children and Barnyard Dance! is sure to get their toes tapping as they join the farmyard animals in the dance.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
A muddy country road is no match for Blue, the little pick up–that is, until he gets stuck while pushing a dump truck out of the muck.
The Magic Hat by Mem Fox
When a magic hat sails into town it transforms the townspeople one by one into a variety of different animals. The presentation of the rhyming couplets offers the opportunity for children to make a guess at which animal will indeed be next.
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Pam Adams
I love this version of the classic rhyme – it’s bright illustrations and die cut feature make it a firm favourite with young children.
Commotion in the Ocean, Rumble in the Jungle, Cock-a-doodle-doo! Farmyard Hullabaloo and Dinosaurs Galore! by Giles Andreae
“There’s a curious commotion, at the bottom of the ocean; I think we ought to go and take a look. You’ll find every sort of creature, that lives beneath the sea; swimming through the pages of this book.” I love this series of fabulous poetry/rhyme books by Giles Andreae and just had to include them. My girls have both adored them too.
Each title is linked to an online bookstore for reviews and more information, especially helpful for titles you are unfamiliar with. These are affiliate links.
Do you have a favourite rhyming story to add?