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I LOVE rhyming picture books! What’s not to love? They have a fun rhythm as you read and are easy for kids to follow along with. So why does it seem like everyone’s telling you not to write a rhyming children’s book?
Because most people don’t know how to write in rhyme! 😬 If you’re wanting to write a children’s book in rhyme, I want to show you how to do it the right way. Here’s how:
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3 tips to help you write in rhyme for your next children’s book:
I personally don’t write in rhyme because I was that person in creative writing class that would hear phrases like, “meter” or “count the beats” and struggle to know how to implement it.
(It’s like pool. I understand the geometry of how to get the ball into the corner pocket. I just don’t see how to actually make it happen. 😂)
So if the idea of understanding how to do all of that stresses you out, too, I want you to know — YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WRITE YOUR STORY IN RHYME.
The difference between prose and rhyming picture books:
It’s important to start off right away by debunking the myth that all children’s books must rhyme. They don’t.
Instead, you can write a story in “prose”.
Prose is when you tell a story with ordinary language, without any metrical structure. IE: Tell it the way you would normally talk.
This is a great option if you’re like me and are not a poet or have no desire to understand what makes rhyming picture books “good”. Instead, you simply just want to tell your story well enough that a child wants to read it.
However, if you’re trying to write a rhyming children’s book, here are the 3 biggest rules you must follow:
1 – You can’t sacrifice the story for the rhyme.
There are 3 things all stories need to be complete:
- A setting
- With a main character
- Who has a goal or singular focus for the story
All of which must work together to form the plot. Something that you don’t get to skip over if you have a rhyming story — it still must be that: A Story.
2 – You can’t force the rhyme. (Or talk like yoda.)
The reason so many people are against rhyme in children’s books is because it’s done wrong — mainly be cause of this issue. The text isn’t natural to the way we speak. (Big no no. 🙅♀️)
To tell a story, talk like a normal human, you must. (👈That’s an example of what not to do.)
3 – You must stick to a set rhythm or pattern.
This is where your meter or story beats come into play. (If you don’t know what they are, Ann Whitford Paul has a great chapter that explains how to write in rhyme beautifully.)
Examples you could try:
- A/B (Alternate) rhymes
- Simple four-line rhymes, etc.
Just make sure you know your pattern, and stick with it.
So if you really want to rhyme, do it!
All you need to do is understand the rules and implement them correctly to tell an amazing story. Otherwise, you can be like me and write in prose (no rhyme). Then just focus on telling a great story. Either way, you’ll end up with an enjoyable story that kids will love to read. 🙌🏽
PS – Need help understanding beats, rhythms, or rhyme in general? Check out Ann Whitford Paul’s book, Writing Picture Books. It has a great chapter all about how to write in rhyme to help you get started.