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Rhythm and rhyme: now’s the time

Sharing rhymes can be a lovely alternative to singing, while still being beneficial to babies' development.

Parent and child doing actions together to a song or rhyme at a Bookbug Session

What makes a rhyme?

Rhymes have lots of the benefits of songs but while songs are sung, rhymes are spoken or chanted. Rhymes tend to be shorter than songs, and usually have a strong rhythm with lots of repetition which makes for easy learning.

Children’s rhymes generally have sounds which 'match' in the final syllables or final words and at the end of a line. For example:

Round and round the garden like a teddy bear

One step two step, tickly under there!

Rhymes have been around for centuries and we humans love them!

Why share rhymes with babies and young children?

Rhymes Are FUN!

Far and away, the best thing about rhymes is that they are great fun! Rhymes often involve tickling and laughing which give us a boost of 'happy hormones' (or oxytocin).

Go bananas in Bananas Unite(this link will open in a new window) or build up to the tickle in Round and Round the Garden(this link will open in a new window) to get the oxytocin flowing!

We all love rhymes because their rhythm and sound patterns are so pleasing to the ear and enjoyable to join in with. This makes them easier to remember too. For those families who feel inhibited by singing, rhymes can allow them to let go of that fear and have some fun.

Rhymes help brain development

Even while having fun, children’s brains are working hard. When you share a rhyme with a child they are learning lots of the building blocks for communication:

Think about how many of these benefits are included in a simple rhyme like, One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato Four(this link will open in a new window). It’s impressive how even the simplest of counting rhymes can have so much going on behind the scenes!

Rhymes are interactive

Little ones can’t stop themselves joining in with the rhyming words in rhymes and stories. When you say a rhyme, you naturally slow down and leave a gap which allows them to jump in with the rhyme:

Two fat sausages sizzling in a pan, one went POP and the other went…


Unleash your creativity and adapt or make up a simple rhyme to share in your Bookbug Sessions. It’s a sure-fire way to keep a wee one’s attention and get families involved.

How about:

Two little butterflies sitting by the shed

One called Mia and one called Fred?

You can even help wee ones learn new ideas by including them in a rhyme. Children are guaranteed to join in with 'LOUD' in this simple rhyme:

Two little dickybirds sitting on a cloud

One called quiet (shhh!) and one called... LOUD!

We hope you’ll be inspired to share more rhymes in your Bookbug Sessions - we’ve done some of the work for you and created some Bookbug Session Plans featuring some of our favourite rhymes and a fun rhyming story to share. They are bursting full of action and counting rhymes, tickle and touch rhymes and a calming rhyme near the end.