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We all know that reading to our little ones is wonderful for their development. It’s one of the best things you can do when supporting your toddlers as they are learning language. Some of the very best types of books to read to your toddler are ones that incorporate rhythm, rhyming, and repetition.
Why Babies & Toddlers Need Books That Have Rhythm, Rhyming, and Repetition (a speech pathologist viewpoint)
Rhythm of Language
Rhythm and rhyming tend to go hand in hand when it comes to books for littles. When sentences in a story end with rhyming words, there also is typically a predictable, rhythmic pattern to those phrases as well.
When you read to your child during these early language learning years, you are naturally highlighting those patterns with your pausing, voice inflection, and stress on syllables. And more exposure to the patterns in language is always a good thing for a young language learner.
Rhyming & Vocabulary Diversity
Rhyming itself has long been considered a pre-literacy skill, or a foundational skill that later reading skills are dependent upon. Though it is no longer thought to be predictive of later reading success, it remains a valuable skill for children to learn. Being able to identify words that rhyme requires a child to be able to listen to, isolate, and compare the endings of words to decide if two words rhyme or not.
In addition, writing a book with rhyming words often causes the author to use more diverse vocabulary. Look at the example below from Llama Llama Red Pajama. The word “fret” is included because it rhymes, and after reading this book as one of our favorites, my little ones have this uncommon word in their vocabularies. Cool!
Repetition & Vocabulary Growth
And finally, books that have repetition are valuable for toddlers. Repeated words and phrases in books provide more opportunities for kids to learn vocabulary, allowing them to participate in reading the book once it has become familiar. It also helps encourage talking in young ones, since once they know the book well, the repeated phrases are easier opportunities to “read” the words along with their adult.
Why You Need Board Books, Not Ebooks For Babies & Toddlers
Ebooks CERTAINLY have their place! For myself and for my older kids, I prefer ebooks over physical ones.
With ebooks, you can have access instantly, check them out from the library, or buy them on Amazon. Plus with Amazon Households, we can share our Kindle ebooks which really comes in handy for my teens. But most importantly, with
The Value of Board Books
But, for babies and toddlers, it is important for them to have access to actual, physical books. In particular, sturdy board books that have cardboard pages. Board books have thick enough pages for little fingers to turn.
Some important pre-emergent literacy skills include page-turning, orienting a book correctly with the top up and the spine to the left, and understanding that a book reads front to back, and left to right. All of these things are learned by reading board books.
The books on my list of favorites for babies and toddlers below are pretty well-known books, so they are very likely to be at your local library if you want to try before you buy. However, having books around all the time and reading them over and over is beneficial to babies and toddlers, so I would recommend investing in any of these books for your home library. We have all of them at our home and many more, but these 10 board books are my faves for rhyming, rhythm, and repetition!
Top 10 Baby & Toddler Books With Rhythm, Rhyming, and Repetition
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
This sweet book about all the different trucks on a construction site is perfect to read before bedtime or nap time. Each truck goes through a hard day of work and then winds down at the end of the day. Then, each truck goes to sleep with a “Shh…goodnight, truck, goodnight.”
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
This is a fun lift-the-flap book with a lot of repetition. After a child “wrote to the zoo to send me a pet,” each page reveals under the flap which animal the zoo sent, followed by “He was too ______! I sent him back!” My toddler loves to shout the “I sent him back!”
Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton
This book is my kids’ all-time favorite! It’s a mini dance party as they act out all the rhyming actions to the beat as my husband reads it! “Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance!”
I Love You, Good Night by Jon Buller and Susan Schade
This adorable bedtime story has rhymes and repetition. “I love you like frogs love flies. I love you like pigs love pies.” Super cute. Short and sweet.
That’s Not My Dragon… by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells
This is just one in a whole series of touch and
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
This book incorporates all three “R”s! The self-proclaimed pout-pout fish goes around pouting and spreading “the dreary-wearies all over the place” until he discovers he was wrong about himself all along! It teaches a good lesson and is very fun to read!
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
If you haven’t read any of the Llama, Llama books, start with this one! It’s such a cute (and relatable) story of little llama getting tucked in to bed by his mama llama. Lots of rhyming and rhythm in this one, and it’s also the perfect bedtime story.
Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
This incredibly imaginative story takes what is actually a child’s toy train and brings it to life, complete with animal crew members who are busy working the night shift! This book is beautifully illustrated and uses rich, rhyming vocabulary, making it one of my all-around personal favorites board books!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
This classic has lots of repetition, allowing little ones to join in. As a bonus, your child will learn color names and animal names when you read this to them!
How Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
This counting book tells about a dinosaur finding various everyday items around his house. “Two big balloons tied to the bed, three toy trucks painted blue, green, and red.” Lots of rhyming, and opportunities to practice pointing and counting on each page!
Whether you are looking for board books to add to your own home library, or you will be gifting books to a new baby, any of these board books with rhythm, rhyming, and repetition are perfect choices!