The importance of rhythm and rhyme for early language and brain development.

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

“Rhythmic language is very important for developing the brain's processing system for speech when you’re a baby and a young child.” (Professor Usha Goswami, Director for Neuroscience in Education, St John’s College Cambridge)

The most important thing to remember here is that the best stories/poems for early language and brain development are those that have:



And are read out loud.

Children really engage with books that have rhythm and rhyme and their ability to retain, retell and eventually read them, because of this, is quite incredible. In my experience of both teaching young children and reading to my own children: these are the books that really help develop a love of reading.

If you want to find out more, this radio 4 programme is great:

Anyway, here are our top reads that use rhythm and rhyme.

We hope you love them as much as we do!

Just so you know: in the book suggestions below, we are an Amazon Associate and we earn a small percentage of any purchases made.

Skimbleshanks by T.S. Elliot

(Also, Macavity by T.S Elliot, Mister Mistoffelees by T.S Elliot)

I have put this one first as it is my absolute favourite and a classic. The story of a railway cat,who is in charge of all the passengers on a sleeper train.

First published in 1939 but still as engaging and entertaining as ever.

"There’s a whisper down the line at 11:39
When the night mail’s ready to depart,
Saying Skimble where is Skimble?
Has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can’t start.”

T.S. Elliot’s cat poems have recently been republished by Faber with incredible illustrations from Arthur Robins which really bring the story to life.

If you are local to Haslemere, on Saturday 22nd June, Arthur Robins is coming to Haslemere Bookshop and is signing copies. I can’t recommend this book shop enough.

Sunk by Rob Biddulph

A story about a penguin that dresses up as a pirate and ends up on his very own pirate adventure. Invovling a shipwrecked pirate and a long lost galleon.

“But wait. A flag, a mast, a deck..
Well blow me down a sunken wreck!”

Beautiful illustrations, rhyming couplets and can be read to tiny little ones. So much fun and it will really get them engaged.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph is also fab.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

A great read for even the youngest of readers:

Each Peach Pear Plum
I spy Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb in the cupboard
I spy Mother Hubbard

Really simple, drawing on lots of famous nursery rhyme characters. A quick read.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Zeuss

Another classic, about a character called Sam I am who is trying to persuade his friend to try green eggs and ham. In the end, Sam i am succeeds in persuading his friend to try them and it turns out that he loves green eggs and ham!!

Children love the repetition of this story and the many different (ridiculous) locations that are suggested for eating green eggs and ham!

This is my 2 year old's favourite book and she is usually in uncontrollable giggles by the end of it. Enjoy.

Oi Frog by Kes Grey and Jim Field

Packed to the brim with nonsense rhymes, this fantastic rhyming story will have even the youngest of children in giggles. Hares sit on chairs, cats sit on mats and mules sit on stools, goats sit on coats,but Frog does not want to sit on a log!

Very simple, with fantastic illustrations.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donadlson

I had to finish with a Julia Donaldson number, after all she is the queen of rhyming children’s story books!

The story of a witch who loses her hat whilst out flying on her broomstick. Each time she looks for her hat she picks up another animal to add to her broomstick. The story has great repetitive language.

“The witch tapped her broomstick and whoosh they were gone,”

Great for getting your little ones to join in with.

But what happens when her broomstick becomes overloaded and snaps?

“I am a dragon as mean as can be
And I am planning to have witch and chips for my tea!”

Nursery rhymes are obviously also fantastic for rhythm and rhyme and are (usually) shorter, so easier for children to remember.

About Edvanced:

Set up by 2 former deputy headteachers to help you support your little one's learning. Edvanced aims to bridge the gap between teaching in schools and learning at home. Our highly rated Introduction to Phonics and Reading Workshop is now online! Perfect for parents of little ones about to start school or currently in Reception. Packed with all the information you will need to support your child's phonics and reading journey and loads of fun games and activities to reinforce learning at home.
We'd love to see you there 😃!
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