Some people poo-poo rhythm and rhyming books, but I think rhythmic books are the bees knees. You just have to find the right ones!
Back in the day when I taught elementary music, I was always on the lookout for rhythmic books. Books that move and groove were ideal for having kiddos practice their rhythms and notation. Ti-ti ta anyone?
But also. Kids love stories. Kids love rhythm and movement. I love those things, too. So I turned to picture books often as a tool for teaching, connection, and for FUN.
Here are some kid-tested, teacher-approved books to get you started!
The Jazz Fly (Matthew Gollub, Illus. Karen Hanke)
Follow the jazz fly as he prepares for a gig! Complete with scat-chanting and a jazzy CD for when your vocal chords need a rest, this was a story that kids begged for!
Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! (Todd Tuell, Illus. Tad Carpenter)
Great book for getting into some onomatopoeia, and perfect for active bodies. Just make sure you’ve got space to kick and chop because it’s definitely going to happen.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin, Archambault, Illus. Ehlert)
Remember this classic? Rhythmic and alphabetic and great for bouncing. One caveat: you will spend the next hour repeating “Chicka chicka boom boom, will there be enough room?”
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (Lloyd Moss, Illus. Marjorie Priceman)
For my 30th birthday, I asked my friends to recite me a poem instead of giving me a gift. My lovely friend Kate read this at the dinner table!
Complete with melodic lines and an introduction to the orchestra, it’s perfect for the musician in all of us.
Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin Jr., Illus. Eric Carle)
Not only does the story give kiddos a chance to practice their colors, but it has lots of repetition that kids really get behind (and isn’t painful to read as an adult.) Win-win!
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree (Daniel Bernstrom, Illus. Brendan Wenzel)
A fun jungle romp that is a perfect alternative to The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly! (Don’t get me wrong, that’s a classic, but she dies in the end! And for some reason it got kids asking existential questions that I did not want to answer in the classroom.)
The book has amazing illustrations with lots of animals for kids to name and enjoy.
My Granny Went to Market (Stella Blackstone, Illus. Christopher Corr)
Granny travels the world to pick up some exotic items - think flying carpets and nesting dolls. It’s a counting book that also gives you a peek into the culture of different countries. Plus, the book defines cultural vocab for an extra element of fun and learning.
Ada Twist, Scientist (Andrea Beaty, Illus. David Roberts)
Following up the hits Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect, this rhythmic STEM-themed book is great for little scientists. It stars Ada, who’s just a bit different. She asks interesting questions, makes a mess, and doesn’t stop until she finds answers.
Bonus: My First Science Textbook: Chemistry (Mary Wissinger, Illus. Harriet Kim Anh Rodis.)
This series of books is a rhyming adventure in subatomic friendship. If you want to get your kids chanting about chemistry, this series is for you.
What’s my favorite line, you ask?
(Yeah, ok, you got me. I wrote the My First Science Textbook: Chemistry Series. Remember earlier when I said I loved rhythm? I wasn’t just playing around!)
So, there you have it. Some awesome, bees knees rhythm books! Enjoy!
P.S. I link to Amazon because it’s likely to have the books in stock. However, you can get many of these books at your local library or an independent bookseller near you! But if you don’t want to leave the comfort of your couch, www.powells.com is a good way to go!