Recently, dear friends of ours visited with the newest addition to their family, a beautiful baby boy. After all the oohing and aahing we asked them, ”How is he sleeping? “ We reminisced about when our children were babies and our bedtime rituals. Then out of the blue my husband began to recite a book we’d read over and over again to our children before bed. The rhyming words, with their familiar cadence, reminded me of sweet baby smells, kissing tiny noses, and snuggles in the glider.
Lyrical prose and rhyming stories seem to have magical powers; however, they can do more than just transport us back in time. They have the ability to dramatically affect how our children learn about words and their environment.
Here are 5 benefits to reading rhyming books with kids:
1. Promotes literacy.
Good rhymers make good readers! Studies show that introducing rhyming stories and sounds to young children early in the preschool years can influence how they develop reading and spelling skills. Because rhyming words share sounds and often spelling sequences, children become equipped to identify patterns both in speech and the written word.
2. Improves their memorization skills.
The brain is uniquely wired to effortlessly learn through music. Rhyming stories mimic the lyrical cadence of songs and as a result our minds receive them in a similar way. This means that words, ideas, and concepts are easily remembered when set to music or rhyme. These memory capabilities can be applied to all sorts of activities such as how to tie your shoe, “One, two, buckle my shoe”, or to recalling facts, such as the days in the month, “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November”.
3. Helps them to understand and play with language.
Many rhymes include movement, such as finger plays, clapping, or stomping. Participating helps a child develop motor skills and coordination. Many of the action rhymes provide an opportunity for you to interact with one another. This promotes social skills as you move in unison and laugh together.
4. Introduces them to the wonder of narratives and imagination.
Rhymes are a uniquely child-friendly means of introducing babies and toddlers to the adventures books can offer. They can also help a child learn faith in a captivating way by sharing Bible stories.
5. Soothes them.
Sending kids off to sleep is much easier when you have a dedicated ritual – which may include rocking them as you read. Sweet stories with adorable rhymes, predictable lines, and repeating patterns often soothe a fussy baby. A good plot, goofy animals in silly settings, or little lessons help too.
Have you ever wondered what Mary and Joseph’s bedtime routine was for baby Jesus? I wonder if Mary lulled baby Jesus to sleep with rhyming words like my husband and I did with our little ones. Or maybe she hummed songs of praise from the book of Psalms.
Author Laura Sassi shares what she envisions it might have been like in Goodnight, Manger, a unique twist on the classic manger tale. Her version includes a noisy stable with animals, itchy hay, three kings bearing gifts, and angels’ singing joyful praise. Illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, the rhyming story of Goodnight, Manger weaves together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime and the wonder Jesus’ birth. With Christmas just around the corner, it will be hard to resist reading this book with your child over and over again.
So whether you are looking to help your children learn about words and their environment or just hoping to create some holiday memories, rhyming books are the way to go.
Watch the Video for Goodnight, Manger
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Do you have a favorite book that rhymes? Tell us about it in comments!