By Nina Schuyler, The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 2, 2012
You don’t have to be a poet to know the fun of rhyme and rhythm. Nursery rhymes tap into this good time, which may, in part, explain their longevity. We like sounds that “strike and chime and slide by each other,” writes poet Frances Mayes. “We respond to the here-it-comes again refrain.” Rhyme and repetition also stamp something into memory.
When a poet friend of mine heard I had a newborn, he said, “They’re little sponges. Why not read poems to him? The ear loves good rhythm and rhyme.”
Baby Baby Baby
By Marilyn Janovitz
If you don’t think your little one is ready for Emily Dickinson’s “An Awful Tempest Mashed the Air,” (it’s a beautiful poem, though), why not try Marilyn Janovitz’ Baby Baby Baby!
Janovitz invites not only a rhythm and rhyme scheme but tons of alliteration:
“Bitsy bouncy baby/ On a bumpity lap/ Mommy’s little baby likes to/ CLAP CLAP CLAP!” Or “Rub-a-dub baby/ In a bubbly bath/ Grandma’s little baby likes to/ Splish Splish Splash!”
This is a book you won’t mind reading over and over. By the last page, you’re either singing it and/or drumming your fingers on the board pages and bouncing baby on your lap. (Ages 1-3)
One, Two Buckle My Shoe
By Salina Yoon
Salina Yoon has taken the classic nursery tale, One, Two Buckle My Shoe, and turned it modern with bright colorful pictures and interesting cut-outs that transform into a picture. For instance, for “Two,” there’s a cutout of a square, which allows you to see blue and red and two yellow circles. Turn the page to “Buckle my shoe” and the previous fragment is now a large shoe. The six stars shown for “Six” changes into an elephant’s blanket. (Ages 0-3)
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins said, “Read with your ears.” These two books make sure that you do.
Nina Schuyler‘s first novel, The Painting, (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill/2004), was a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. It was also selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books for 2004 and a “Great Debut from 2004” by the Rocky Mountain News. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco and is working on a third novel.