Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
July 13, 2012 12:04 PM   Subscribe

What are some rhyming kids' books (4-7 yrs) that are actually enjoyable for the poetry, as well as the story and pictures?

Lately, I've really been enjoying reading Ogden Nash with Toddler B. Julia Donaldson and various bits of Lewis Carroll are also favorites, but I'm looking to add some other fun and well-written rhymed stories to the mix. Can anyone recommend some leads?

Picky specs:
-- For reading-aloud purposes, I'd love language more in the classic 18th/19th-century (or mock-18/19c) mode: sonorous, relatively formal diction, strong meter, strong rhyme. Doesn't have to be Tennyson or anything, but I find that sparer/less structured stuff, like Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, is not as fun from a speaker's perspective.

--Good story and/or interesting topic is always a plus!
posted by Bardolph to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
posted by mattbucher at 12:07 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

My fave rite now is Bugs Galore, by Peter Stein and Bob Staake, it's new and not at all 18th/19th-century, but if you want something new and neat, I'd recommend that one.
posted by Blake at 12:07 PM on July 13, 2012

My son adored The Caboose Who Got Loose.

So much so that I had to buy 3 copies from wearing out the bindings.

I liked it. Well, the first 304,405,2945 readings anyway ;-)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:10 PM on July 13, 2012

Re: Shel Silverstein

Have you checked out Giraffe and a Half?

It is awesome.
posted by bilabial at 12:16 PM on July 13, 2012

For some reason, just this morning I was thinking of "Now We Are Six" a book of poetry by A.A. Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame). I loved that book when I was a kid. He has another collection, called "When We Were Very Young", as well. The illustrations are by E.H. Shepherd, who also did the Pooh books.

Also, Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses", and "The Real Mother Goose".
posted by Kriesa at 12:18 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Love Zin Zin Zin a Violin.
posted by Melismata at 12:23 PM on July 13, 2012

Cat, What is That? is my favorite poem of all time. An excerpt:
It is the Peek.
It is the Poke.
It is the Dance
on feet of smoke.

It is the Slink.
It is the Sneak
on velvet toes
stalking the Squeak.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:25 PM on July 13, 2012

Not sure it fits your criteria but we loved Father Fox's Pennyrhymes when my son was that age.
posted by bondcliff at 12:35 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

We love Edward Lear's Poetry for Young People.

"Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve."

A good taste of Lear.
posted by girlbowler at 12:38 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Margaret Mahy - Bubble Trouble:
“‘Little Mabel blew a bubble and it caused a lot of trouble… Such a lot of bubble trouble in a bibble-bobble way. For it broke away from Mabel as it bobbed across the table, Where it bobbled over Baby, and it wafted him away.’
posted by slightlybewildered at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

As far as I am concerned, anything by Dr. Seuss.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:58 PM on July 13, 2012

Whoops, you don't care for much that. Oh well... my bad. (NEED EDIT BUTTON PLEASE!)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:59 PM on July 13, 2012

My kids and I just enjoyed, of all things, a book called Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. It's humorous, but the poems actually scan! I was so impressed. I wouldn't say the language is formal, but it is pleasurable to read.
posted by not that girl at 2:00 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Re Ogden Nash—are you aware of The Tale of Custard the Dragon? My (now grown) kids loved it and my favorite stanza still makes me giggle:

"Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon."

Also, Roald Dahl has some wonderful takes on children's classics. If you hate Disney's Cinderella (and who doesn't), you'll might just love Dahl's version.
posted by she's not there at 2:07 PM on July 13, 2012

Just remembered—my daughter's favorite was Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf—I can still hear her little girl laugh when she read (spoiler alert :-) )

"The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head,
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead."

Gotta say, my folks/her grandparents found Dahl's material too graphic. Don't remember any objections from her paternal grandparents, perhaps because that Grandpa had been a writer/artist with EC Comic/Vault of Horror. (Hard to believe that such stories/characters came from such an incredibly gentle and charming man. RIP John.)
posted by she's not there at 2:30 PM on July 13, 2012

Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee.

The title poem:

Alligator pie, alligator pie
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don't give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don't get some I don't know what I'll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don't give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don't give away my alligator soup.

posted by angiep at 2:37 PM on July 13, 2012

Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:53 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Roald Dahl and A A Milne recommendations. I don't know where you are in the world but the Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd is very popular in New Zealand. I could still probably recite most of the first book word for word 20 years since I last heard it.
posted by poxandplague at 6:09 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are rocks in my socks said the ox to the fox.

"There are rocks in my socks," said the ox to the fox. Bumpy old, lumpy old, clumpy old rocks... Pinchy and squinchy whenever one walks. I feel very grumpy with rocks in my socks!"

His friend the fox gives the ox advice on how to get rid of rocks in one's socks.

I adored reading this book aloud to my children. They loved the rhythm and the rhyming words.
posted by JujuB at 10:34 PM on July 13, 2012

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is great, and I think it fits your "picky specs" pretty well. There are a bunch of different editions with different illustrators available. You can preview the poems here.
posted by gimli at 10:39 AM on July 14, 2012

Longfellow (Song of Hiawatha, Paul Revere's Ride, etc) is great on the older end of that span.

Dr Seuss has roughly two types of books - his "easy readers" (Cat in the Hat, Fox in Socks, etc) which are made using only a very limited vocabulary and shorter lines, and his others (Scrambled Eggs Super, etc) which have a more wide-ranging vocabulary and longer lines. If you've only read the former, you might try out the latter.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:26 PM on July 14, 2012

Also Robert Service, but some of his poems are dark/ghost story type tales, so preview for age suitability.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:27 PM on July 14, 2012

Please please please get yourself "Blueberry Girl" by Neil Gaiman. One of the loveliest children's books ever.
posted by jbickers at 5:28 PM on July 14, 2012

poxandplague: "the Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd is very popular"

Amen. Dactylic Tetrameter ftw! Might be a bit too young for the OP's kid, though.

Allan Ahlberg's Heard It In The Playground has some good stuff. There's some free verse mixed in there, but also some fun kid-appropriate storytelling in a standardised meter, like Please Mrs Butler, Scissors and The Ordeal Of Robin Hood. There are also a couple of song parodies that can be either read or sung.

Michael Rosen has some great poems for that age group, but I think it's mostly free verse. (If you felt like branching out, he's got some nice comic monologues in a similar style to Joyce Grenfell's George – Don't Do That, which are themselves great fun to read aloud to small children.)

Reciting John Betjeman's Hunter Trials is fun if you do the posh horsey voice. Or Wilma Horsbrough's The Train To Glagow if you want to try Scottish. Or if the kid has any interest at all in baseball, Casey At The Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. Charlotte Mitchell's poem Just In Case about the dangers of overpacking is a fun one to read aloud, with a strong meter in the first section and an exciting speed-reading exercise in the second.

Very much depends on the kid, but I think I was about seven when I discovered Hillaire Belloc. If you think they can handle grisly, but well-written cautionary tales, give 'em Matilda Who Told Lies And Was Burned To Death. Struwelpeter is along similar lines, but not as much fun imo as Belloc.

Or try some of the Stanley Holloway monologues. My mom could do Albert and the Lion from memory and we absolutely loved it as kids. (Of course we also begged her to recite Monty Python's Horace Who Ate Himself. We were odd little kids.) We were very excited when we found out there were sequels and not only did Albert live, but he and the lion became BFFs.

And what everybody else said about Eliot, Milne and Dahl.
posted by the latin mouse at 10:12 AM on July 16, 2012

« Older Pronounce "The One Sun Shone Down on the Brown...   |   making pith helmet cat ears - advice? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.