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  • Writer's pictureGrace Saadi

Language Refining, Rhythm and Timing, a Reason for Rhyming

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

I’d start this off with a verse, but this video has enough rhyme to last someone a lifetime.


(that was accidental, but hey works for me!)

Fun fact: did you know Dr. Seuss wasn’t actually a doctor?

Yet, many of us recognize the name from the world renowned and ever loved titles such as Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, and PLENTY more. I’ve always been intrigued by his style of writing, but I could never explain why. Because of that, I decided to explore the effects of rhyming in children’s literature- its benefits, uses, and general impact on the reader.

Kaptainkristian, creator of the the above video, had some real evidence woven in those verses.

Specifically, the words of Lydia Denworth in The Neurobiology of Dr. Seuss:

Repetition, rhythm and rhyme help children in crucial ways to process the speech they hear, and fine-tune the connections between auditory and language networks in the brain.

These factors collectively allow young kids to hone their phonological awareness, the ability to separate and recognize the sounds in a spoken language. This awareness is purely auditory, relying on repeated sounds and syllable counts- the key features of rhyming! This eventually leads to a child's developments in reading and writing.

But, Denworth claims this only scratches the surface:

How fluently a child reads in 4th grade has everything to do with how well that child will be able to tackle more sophisticated tasks.

Tasks that forever shape their education all subjects and learning process as they grow older.

Is rhyming really that powerful? I decided to do some research to see.

I stumbled upon The Seuss Boost, an analysis of the writings by good old Theodor Geisel. The study entails of 1 story divided 2 experiments, a rhyming and the non-rhyming version. They tested children, ages 2-4, to see how well they retained the names of the animals in the book. They found that kids of all ages performed better in the rhyming conditions, but addition parental behavior (i.e. they style of reading, use of dramatic pauses) may have also been a factor in their word retention. Overall, their research showed that rhyming was more than just rhythmical, it was also beneficial and supported Denworth's claims.

Teaching and parenting blog The Measured Mom had some personal experience on the matter. Author Anna G asks:

Do you know what’s one of the best predictors of how well a kindergartner will learn to read? It’s if he knows his nursery rhymes.

She claims 6 reasons for the importance of rhyming, it...

  1. teaches children how language works, helping to notice and work with sounds

  2. helps them experience the rhythm of language- leading to animated voices and expression

  3. helps them learn the skill of how to anticipate when reading

  4. aids with writing- using common sounds = common spelling

  5. expands the imagination

  6. adds joy to an otherwise daunting task.

I’d like to focus on the 4th factor in particular, as this expands beyond just the trials and tribulations of reading. This also allows the inclusion of older readers and how they can learn from these rhythmic verses. Catalina Millan's study expresses that rhyming is an important tool for teaching English at various levels. This lends itself to the fact that rhyming never stands alone, it's very nature requires repetition and sound. Like the previously mentioned study, it aids not only with listening skills, but also with the memorization of vocabulary and pronunciation. Because of this, Millan claims we should utilize nursery rhymes on a daily basis, from intermediate to advanced English classes.

But is English the only class that could benefit from the use of rhyming? Philip Clarkson says otherwise. He found that nursery rhymes have their place in mathematics and history as well. And while this is especially useful in the education for younger children, this can be altered to better fit various environments, subject matter, or grade level. It is because:

Patterning is often the key to the structure of a rhyme and it is this that makes it enjoyable for students.

(why did this post become so Christmasy all of a sudden?)

Take The 12 Days of Christmas for example, as Clarkson explains, this is a simple yet important rhyme for its numerical value. It teaches counting for children, yes, but just consider the gifts as placeholders that can so easily be changed. The rhyme could also be continued, which adds factor of then figuring out just how many gifts there are once the song is finished.

And looking at the song from a historical standpoint, he discovered some interesting facts about its origin in the Middle Ages. “The first day of Christmas” is actually referencing December 26th, or Boxing Day in some countries. This means that the 12th and final day is January 6th, otherwise known as the Epiphany, the day celebrating the arrival of the 3 wise men to see the new born baby Jesus. And as Clarkson points out, this also connects back to Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. From pear trees to Shakespeare, can you imagine the learning possibilities capable because of a simple rhyme!

To conclude:

If you’re a random reader

In a Seuss type mood,

Or an aspiring author

with a story yet to be

Maybe even a parent

Curious just like me,

I hope you all learned something new.

Because I think it’s fair to say

There’s quite a lot it can do,

From reading to counting,

To mastering the art of speech,

There is no subject matter

That rhyming can’t reach.

My final takeaway: Seuss wasn’t actually a doctor, but maybe, just maybe, he was onto something.

Side note: these posts were created for and during a class in college- if you see any images that you recognize or may be your own, please let me know! I will happily give credit or remove any images!

1 комментарий

Julie Kurz
Julie Kurz
08 апр. 2019 г.

this makes me glad that my parents read to me as a child!

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