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The 3 R's - Rhythm, Rhyme and Repetition

Updated: May 5, 2020

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Let the Beat Drop

For the same reasons we love songs that have a good beat, lyrics that rhyme and a hook that keeps us coming back, many of the best children's books will have these elements. But the rhythm, rhyme and repetition that tickles our ears are actually the basics of learning language and contribute to reading success.

“There’s a reason we learn nursery rhymes as young children. They help us develop an ear for our language. Rhyme and rhythm highlight the sounds and syllables in words. And understanding sounds and syllables help kids learn to read!” -

To illustrate each element, here are some books that you may be familiar with:


Books with rhythm begged to be read with a certain cadence, often even in a sing-song pattern. It can actually be quite awkward to read these books until you find the right rhythm, but once you do the words trip off the tip of the tongue.

Ex: "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, Dum-Diddy-Dum-Diddy-Dum-Dum-Dum"


Books with rhyme are the most common type of the three R’s. While rhyming books are easy to find, the best ones are almost predictable, as if your brain is anticipating the rhyming word, which makes for a satisfying read.

Ex. "They left the house, at half past nine in two straight lines, in rain or shine, the smallest one was Madeline."


Babies and Toddlers thrive on repetition. Unlike adults who can find redundancy boring, children actually need rote practice with words and sounds when learning a language to make it stick.

Ex. “Neigh! Neigh!” said the horse. “Want to go for a ride?” The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web. “Moo! Moo!” said the cow. “Want to eat some grass?” The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web.

The Trifecta: The 3 R's

The best books for babies and reading to toddlers will include all three R’s. These are the ones you can read over and over like a favorite song. I call this the trifecta.

Ex. "It's time for bed, little mouse, little mouse, darkness is falling all over the house. It's time for bed little goose, little goose, the stars are out and on the loose."

What are your favorite children's books with rhythm, rhyme and repetition?


"Nursery Rhymes: Not Just for Babies" Reading Rockets. Posted 2007

Retrieved January 22, 2020

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