Teaching Students to Rhyme Using Books Similar to Seuss

Dr. Seuss's books have been the go-to books for rhyming, but some teachers prefer other options. This blog post includes seven fun new authors of books that have rhythm and rhyme. Check it out to learn more.

Next week, we'll be celebrating Read Across America Day. For years, Read Across America Day has included a celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday for a long long time. Teachers and students all love the rhythmic patterns in Dr. Seuss's books and Seuss's artistic style. Dr. Seuss's books have really helped children with learning to rhyme, and these playful rhythms and illustrations are appealing to young kiddos.

Unfortunately, I recently read this article from School Library Journal, and I've been really thinking a lot about it. It was all new information to me, and I was so disappointed to learn about the ugly part of Dr. Seuss's life. This article shows even more detail about Dr. Seuss's books, and it was published just three days ago. The struggle for me is whether to celebrate his birthday with a big to-do knowing his early career included political cartoons that were so offensive and hurtful. From my reading, I learned he tried to make ammends for his wrong doing, but I worry that such celebrations send a message that we're okay with the offensive way he portrayed people of color in his early cartoons? I think as much as we enjoy the catchy phrasing and colorful illustration, I feel that it's most important to be sensitive to the messages sent to children of color and that we should select a broad variety of books that represent all. I'm NOT at all saying his books should be banned, removed from our collections, or not used at all. Instead, I'd like to propose selecting book titles to supplement your rhyming collections. In this post, I'd like to highlight similar authors you might consider highlighting in your k/1 classroom. There are new authors publishing books all the time, and even though it's good to visit classic titles, we also need to look at what's new in order to make the best decisions for our students.

Deborah Diesen

The first series in my list are the Pout Pout Fish books by Deborah Diesen. I just love them. They have  playful rhythm and the vocabulary!! They are rich with tier 2 words and feature themes that are really good for kids. There are about ten titles to choose from, so you have lots of options. You can work on character building right along with rhyme and vocabulary too. Check out this read aloud video from Auntie Lee of the first in the series.

Nancy Shaw

Dr. Seuss's books have been the go-to books for rhyming, but some teachers prefer other options. This blog post includes seven fun new authors of books that have rhythm and rhyme. Check it out to learn more.
A favorite series from my children's early years are the Sheep series by Nancy Shaw. They too are patterned with rhyming phrases with fun illustrations. There are several in the series including Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep in a Shop, Sheep Go to Sleep, Sheep Out to Eat, Sheep on a Ship, and Sheep On a Hike. My own children enjoyed these, and I used them in kindergarten and first grade. They work well for rhyme, but also reinforce spelling patterns for long and short vowels. 

Kes Gray

This newer series by author Kes Gray is so cute! There are three books so far including Oi Frog! Oi Dog! and Oi Cat! Each includes rhyming animals, and the story lines are clever. They are not rhythmic like the others I've shared, but would work quite well as read alouds. Projecting photos of the books as the story is shared would work well for locating rhyming words with your students. You might also use the words as the starting point for building lists of word family words. 

Sarah Weeks

Sarah Weeks is a great author for the kindergarten/first grade classroom. She has many books that include rhyming words including Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash, Splish Splash, Drip Drop, and BaaaChoo! Be sure to check them out! Sarah Weeks also has an early reader series in her list including the Mac and Cheese series. 

Anna Dewdney

Ah...what a wonderful lady! Anna Dewdney passed after a terrible struggle with brain cancer, but she left us with her beloved Llama Llama books. They are wonderful read alouds. Check out this reading of Llama Llama Red Pajama from Ludacris! So clever!
Some of Anna's rhyming books include: Llama Llama, I love you!, Llama Llama Mad at Mama, LLama Llama Time to Share, LLama LLama Misses Mama, LLama LLama Loves to Read, LLama LLama Yum! Yum! Yum! and LLama Llama Zippity Zoom. However, there are quite a few more too. An author study of Anna Dewdney's work would be a fabulous idea for a K/1 classroom.

Corey Rosen Schwartz

Oh my cuteness! Check out this author's site HERE. Corey Schwartz has definitely capitalized on student interest with her books, Three Ninja Pigs, Ninja Red Riding Hood, and Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks. Other books in her collection include Hop Plop!, Two Tough Trucks, Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears, and Twinderella. No matter which you choose, your students will love them. They all include rhyming too, so be sure to check them out.

Dr. Seuss's books have been the go-to books for rhyming, but some teachers prefer other options. This blog post includes seven fun new authors of books that have rhythm and rhyme. Check it out to learn more. Paul Czajak

The last author I want to highlight with fresh and fun rhyming books is Paul Czajak. His "Monster" books are perfect for primary, and they include the rhythm and rhyme we're looking for. There are five books in the series, and they include Monster Needs Your Vote, Monster Needs a Party, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs His Sleep, and Monster Needs a Costume. Monster goes on lots of adventures, and we learn about his journey with rhyming phrases. 

Rhyming Resources You Might Like:

Teaching students to rhyme is one of the foundational skills emergent readers need as they progress to the beginning reader stage. Rhyming isn't always easy for young friends, and sometimes we need a variety of resources to help students along. 

In my TPT shop, I have several resources that might make planning intervention and small group lessons easier. The first is my Rhyme Time Intervention Kit which includes ten hands on activities that can be used in stations, with parent volunteers, and in your guided reading lessons. 
Another resource bundle I just LOVE are my rhyming paper bag books. I focus on short vowel word families to emphasize the sound as well as the spelling. There are differentiated options with each book in the set.


Blog Posts for the K/1 Teacher:

If you're a K/1 teacher, you may be interested in the blog posts below which focus on foundational skills:

Hands on Alphabet Activities

Developing a Concept of Word

Word Study for the Emergent Reader




3 comments

  1. I love Dr. Seuss. I don't think you have to dig up a history on a person to enjoy their work. Their is plenty of dirt on some of our most famous people: President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln. That doesn't mean we can't celebrate the good they've done in their lives. I also don't think we need to publicize it when we find the dirt. What purpose did you serve by telling everyone what you found out about Seuss. I didn't know those things and could have gone the rest of my life without knowing. What was your purpose? Kind of sad.

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    1. I guess I look to School Library Journal and the NEA who sponsor Read Across America as places for guidance in the literacy department. Both are encouraging a move to diversity in literature which I 100% agree is needed. I specifically said that I'm not advocating banning them or doing away with Seuss's books, but from the articles I've read recently, I would use them sparingly and add in these other great options too. Until reading these articles, I really loved them too. However, I can't love them anymore knowing about how his work hurt(or may hurt) people of color.

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    2. And if you love his work, use his work. Everyone has to make decisions for themselves and for their students. Young children enjoy the bright colors and rhyme. I am not telling anyone what to do. Each teacher must decide for themselves whether to honor his work and whether to use his books. I simply wanted to share other rhyming options.

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