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Rhymes and Fun for Little Ones

Nursery Rhymes and Poetry


Young children love the sounds of rhythms and rhymes, from Mother Goose and other traditional rhymes to recently written rhymes. When the rhymes are coupled with engaging illustrations, children tend to enjoy hearing (and seeing) them again and again. A nice side benefit is that rhymes, alliteration, and other word play are great ways to begin to prepare children to learn to read.

1. Good for You

Cover Art of Good for You a children's book of rhymes
Subtitled Toddler Rhymes for Toddler Times, Stephanie Calmenson's entertaining book celebrates all that toddlers can do, from playing on the playground to using the potty. Other topics include colors, manners, counting, the alphabet, animals, travel, families, and friends. The two dozen poems feature the bright and lively artwork of Melissa Sweet. (HarperCollins, 2001. ISBN: 0688177379)
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2. Four in All

Cover art of Four in All, a poetry book for kids
Both the poetry and the artwork in Four in All are unusual and affecting. Written by poet Nina Payne and illustrated by her son, Adam Payne, the text features just 56 common nouns set in verses that are surrounded by dramatic cut-paper collages. The story of a young child's adventure is told in such verses as "oats wheat corn rye / sun moon stars sky." (Front Street, 2001. ISBN: 1886910162)
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3. Playtime Rhymes for Little People

Clare Beaton's Playtime Rhymes for Little People features her imaginative fabric and trim collages and 40 well-loved rhymes and finger plays. Many, like "I'm a Little Teapot," will be familiar to you; others may be new to you. The finger play instructions that accompany each rhyme are particularly helpful and ensure that you and your child will get the maximum enjoyment from the book. A CD of the rhymes is included with the hardcover book. (Barefoot Books, 2008. ISBN: 9781846861567)

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4. Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose

This delightful book contains 200 rhymes, ranging from such familiar Mother Goose rhymes as "Old Mother Hubbard", "Simple Simon," and "Little Miss Muffet" to "Yankee Doodle" and other traditional rhymes. The folkart-style illustrations from the talented dePaola are full of good cheer and include a diverse group of children, adults, and farm animals. (Penguin Putnam, 1985. ISBN: 0399212582)
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5. The House That Jack Built

The constant repetition in this traditional rhyme is particularly appealing to young children. Diana Mayo's large and vivid illustrations cover the pages, bringing life to each verse. There are a lot of details in the pictures that children will have fun identifying. This rhyme is one that three- to five-year-olds will enjoy learning to recite. (Barefoot Books, 2001. ISBN: 9781846860768)
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