15 Great Rhyming Books For Toddlers

Mia Shindler
Dec 12, 2023 By Mia Shindler
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2020
A man is sat outdoors in a shaded woodland area, reading to his son on his lap.

Image © Unsplash.

It can be hard to know where to start when encouraging your child to develop language skills.

Luckily, we’re here to help with a list of our ultimate rhyming books for children aged 1-3 years old.  Rhymes are a great way for your child to learn, as they advance listening and speaking skills, as well as helping to develop predictive language skills.

Enjoy our list of the 15 best rhyming books, from the classics you probably remember, to modern takes on this enjoyable genre.

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon invites you to join a small bunny in saying goodbye to the day. This is helpful for children who have trouble falling asleep, while also developing your toddler's language skills.

With a simple and easy flowing text, and charming illustrations by Clement Hurd, this is the perfect relaxing rhyme to read with your child at bedtime. Parents and toddlers have loved Goodnight Moon since it was first published in 1947, so why not introduce your child to the world of books with this timeless children's story?

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, by Pam Adams

Cover of There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly: against a blue background, an old woman with grey hair and a bonnet around her hair stands smiling.

Taking you on a nonsensical journey with an old lady who manages to swallow a whole host of animals, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is great for young children who love the absurd, with brightly coloured images accompanying this topsy-turvy story.

The Old Lady manages to swallow a fly, a spider, a bird, a cat, a dog and a goat, but dies after trying to swallow a horse. The repetition of the central line 'I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!'

is silly enough to amuse, but is also a great way for your child to build a clear understanding of the story being told.

Pants, by Giles Andreae

Cover of Pants: a young girl smiling hanging upside down, with her underpants showing.

The ultimate giggle, Pants is sure to entertain your 1-3 year olds. There are giant frilly pig pants, hairy pants, fairy pants and even lighting up at night pants.

This cheerful rhyming book, illustrated with bold colours and funky patterns, is a joyful daytime read, and will familiarise your child with a great range of adjectives. This delightful rhyming picture book is ideal for all preschoolers who love to laugh.

Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae

Cover of Giraffes Can't Dance: a smiling giraffe is doing a backflip while smiling. In the background are the moon and night sky.

Giraffes Can't Dance is the perfect rhyming book to read aloud to young children.

Join the clumsy but caring giraffe Gerald on a rhyming journey to self-confidence, as he finds joy in dancing to the beat of his own drum (or violin), after being laughed at by the other animals in the jungle. This charming picture book will familiarise children with the important message of accepting their differences, and believing in themselves.

With a smoothly flowing rhyming text, and vibrant illustrations of the jungle, Giraffes Can't Dance will engage and educate your 1-3 year old.

Each Peach Pear Plum, by Allan Ahlberg

Gain a glimpse into the world of fairy tale characters such as Tom Thumb, Cinderella and Robin Hood, with this nursery rhyming picture book created by award-winning author and illustrator team Allan and Janet Ahlberg.

The game of 'I Spy' that runs throughout the text will fully engage your listening toddler, while introducing them to nursery rhyme characters that they'll be sure to meet soon.

Each Peach Pear Plum is a fun and active way to help your child gain valuable communication skills.

Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown

best rhyming books from the classics

The perfect bedtime story for your preschoolers, Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is a book your children will love.

Brown guides you through a day at the farm, describing all the activities that go on, from the pink pig learning to squeal to the mouse born in the corn, until the sky becomes dark and it is time to go to sleep.

The serene essence of this simple farmyard story will definitely soothe an energetic child at bedtime, while also providing an interactive way of learning language skills, with animal noises in the text your preschoolers will love repeating as you read

Sharing A Shell, by Julia Donaldson

Cover of Sharing A Shell: two sea creatures and a red crab stand on the beach smiling. There is a large shell on the red crab's head and the ocean is in the background.

Sharing a Shell is a wonderful book for helping your child to develop an understanding of generosity and teamwork, as well as gaining verbal skills.

Telling the story of a crab who learns to share his sparkly shell with an anemone and a bristle worm, Sharing a Shell is perfect for children who love the seaside and is illustrated by Lydia Monks. The addition of glitter to every page is sure to capture your child's imagination.

Sharing a Shell is one of our favourite rhyming picture books here at Kidadl, and is written by one of the best children's authors out there.

Shhh...Good Night, by Nicky Benson and Thomas Elliott

Cover of Shhh...Good Night: two deer, parent and child, are snuggling in their sleep. In the background is a forest against the night sky.

This relaxing nursery rhyme style book is another excellent book to read to your children to help them fall asleep. In a dreamlike forest, all the animals settle down to sleep in their different resting places as night time arrives.

With an almost musical, easy to follow text, Shhh...Good Night is a brilliant book for younger children who are beginning to develop their language skills.

The Ugly Five, by Julia Donaldson

Cover of The Ugly Five: against the summer heat in a grassy plain, a warthog, hyena, vulture, wildebeest and marabou stalk are walking together.

Brought to you by a highly acclaimed children's author, The Ugly Five tells the story of the wildebeest, warthog, hyena, vulture and the marabou stalk. Even though these creatures are regarded as the 'Ugly Five' on the South African Savannah where they live, they band together to celebrate their differences and strut with pride across their Savannah.

With a comforting message of self-confidence and friendship, as well as some incredibly fun to read rhymes, children will love listening to a parent read this colourful illustrated book.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, by Annie Kubler

Cover of Zoom Zoom Zoom: against a blue background, a happy young child is wearing an astronaut helmet, holding a little toy moon in their hand.

This nursery rhyme book shows a group of children painting their own rockets and zooming off to space. The sheet music provided alongside this board book makes for an ideal interactive experience, with children able to sing along to the fun, simple rhyming text.

Specially designed for 1-2 year olds, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom features many common sounds, which will help your child with communication skills in the long run, while the brightly coloured images will also be sure to grab their attention

Whose Stripes? By Fiona Munro

Fiona Munro's jungle-themed flap book features gentle rhymes, and builds suspense, with hints of the next animal to come on each page. Each page focuses on a different stripy creature, from the bee to the zebra, and will help your child start to identify different animals.

The almost lyrical text is enjoyable and soothing for young children to listen to, making it a perfect introduction to reading.

Splish, Splash, Ducky, by Lucy Cousins

Splish, Splash Ducky follows Ducky Duckling, as she befriends a frog, worm, slug, bug and a fish on a damp day. Featuring basic rhyming words, this is a wonderful educational resource for the earliest age, with unique, cartoon-style images.

Though Ducky Duckling is sad when her rainy day ends, she is comforted by her Dad, making this a heartwarming read for child and parent.

Octopants, by Suzy Senior

Cover of Octopants: against a dark blue sea, a surprised blue and yellow octopus is holding three pairs of underpants in different tentacles.

Octopants tells the under-the-sea story of an Octopus who can't find any pants to fit him due to his eight legs. Feeling sorry for himself he searches far and wide, until he discovers the Under-the-Sea Emporium, where he ends up with the perfect garment thanks to the creative seahorse owner.

This is a heartening story of achieving happiness despite being different, with a lovely moral aspect to it, in addition to simple rhymes and bright images which will entertain young listeners.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat, by Annie Kubler

Row Row Row Your Boat transforms one of the most well-known nursery rhymes into a wonderful illustrated book. Depicting happy young children singing along to the verses, and including actions to copy, this book for kids will provide your child with an extremely enjoyable interactive learning experience.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, by Nicola Slater

Cover of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: five small animals holding musical instruments play their instruments joyfully by a fire, against the night sky.

Join the animals of the forest as they travel to a joyful jazz festival. With the deer on the clarinet and the elephant on the banjo, this musical board book features a relaxing rendition of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', making it one of the best nursery rhyme books.

The rhymes are sweet and simple, making this the perfect book for 1-2 year olds.

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Written by Mia Shindler

Bachelor of Arts specializing in History

Mia Shindler picture

Mia ShindlerBachelor of Arts specializing in History

Originally from London, Mia has a Bachelor's degree in History from Durham University and loves to explore the city's museums and historical landmarks with her family and younger siblings. As a child, she was an avid reader of historical mysteries, particularly the 'Lady Grace Mysteries' by Patricia Finney. In her free time, Mia enjoys discovering new restaurants, theaters, and parks in the city, always on the lookout for exciting things to do.

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