Rhyming Gets a Bad Rap


“Hubert the Lion was haughty and vain

And especially proud of his elegant mane.” ~Bill Peet

One of my favorite picture books as a child: HUBERT’S HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURE, and I still love, love, love it today. My kids will even request it as one of their pre-bedtime books.  All thirty-eight pages. Over two-thousand words. A dozen characters. And . . . it rhymes.

Rhyming picture books get a bad rap. Lots of writers and agents I’ve spoken with at conferences and corresponded with via blogs say the same thing: rhyme is a hard sell, no one likes to buy it. Some discourse on the topic can be found here and here.

It basically comes down to too much bad rhyme makes the gatekeepers wary of all rhyme. Plus, the fact it’s difficult to translate into other languages which limits potential sales. Not a good selling point for business-minded publishers.

I don’t write rhyme these days, but I do appreciate rhyme done well. I’ll even shell out my hard-earned dollar to purchase rhyming books for my family and as gifts for my friends’ kids. Some favorites over the years include: SOME DOGS DO by Jez Alborough, ROOM ON THE BROOM by Julia Donadson, and ZIN! ZIN! ZIN! A VIOLIN by Lloyd Moss.

There’s nothing more magical than the cadence and lyricism of a beautifully illustrated, impeccably rhymed story. How about you? What are some of your favorites?

Picture 20-Nov-2012 by Karin Blaski

3 thoughts on “Rhyming Gets a Bad Rap

  1. @SydneyJ. I often give Oh the Places You’ll Go to highschool and college graduating seniors.

    @MEGilbert Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs was one of the first Sandra Boynton books our family ever read, and now, I think we own six or seven of them. Nancy Shaw is another picture book author that does rhyme that we love in our house. Sheep Out to Eat is a fun one.

    Thanks for your comments!

  2. Don’t forget Dr. Seuss. I loved those books as a kid, and still love them today. Green Eggs and Ham is a classic, but there’s also Oh the Places You’ll Go, The Lorax, The Sneetches…

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