In 1937, Theodor Seuss Geisel published his first children’s book entitled And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
Over the following decades, Dr. Seuss would produce 46 children’s books that have come to be loved by children of multiple generations. I still go to these books because they are imaginative, but even more so because of his fabulous use of rhythm and rhyme. I also love the nonsense words he created.
Recognizing words that rhyme is an essential part of building reading fluency. I suppose that is why I decided to incorporate rhyme into my children’s books, like my first Level 1 Reader, Bixby Bunny Hears a Sound. So the answer to the question of whether or not Dr. Seuss books can help kids read better would be a resounding YES.
Here is my own “non-clinical” take as to why rhythm and rhyme are such a powerful tool in building reading fluency:
1. Rhymes provide subconscious clues.
Because the rhythm associated with the text tells you when the rhyming word should appear the child has a subconscious clue to help decode that next rhyme. Ex. “I will not eat them in a house, I will not eat them with a m____.” There are only a few words that rhyme with house, add to that the other clue that the word begins with “m” and your child will choose “mouse”
2. Rhymes reinforce phonemic awareness.
It is the vowel sound/s in a word that creates the rhyme. When the child reads house and mouse they learn that the diphthong “ou” makes a specific sound connecting the two words.
3. Rhymes trigger memory response. Rhyming phrases are more easily committed to memory than non-rhyming prose…
“Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.“
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.”
…is much easier to remember than…
Mary had a lamb with a white fleece
It liked to go wherever Mary went.”
So, it seems, Dr. Seuss figured out something that still holds true today. Rhythm and rhyme help a child guess where the text may be going, it helps them distinguish similarities in sounds and it makes something easier to remember.
But most important is that rhyming makes a story fun, which makes reading fun.
Often children with Auditory Processing Disorder have difficulty hearing when rhymes take place. Teaching them to distinguish rhymes is important to learning to read. We are working to develop materials to help teach rhyming. Any tips or ideas from your experiences would be helpful so please share them with us. Then take a moment and share us with your friends just before you sign up for our email.