When is the right time for tight rhyme?
I've always loved the flow of verse and have been instantly drawn to beautiful writing that has a rhythm to it - it has its own heartbeat, its own tune - and as a reader you are invited to join in, sing along, and then carry that melody with you. I've written poetry for a long time - for school, for family, for myself. Russian parties love a good poem and I've performed many for family members over the years. It came somewhat naturally to me. But writing a children's book in rhyme has took me down a rabbit hole of the positives and negatives.
Let's Start with the Good
Research has shown time and again the importance of learning rhyming words to develop literacy in young children. Rhyming ability not only predicts later reading achievement, but it is linked to promoting language development and building social emotional learning, as children memorize rhyming books easily and build confidence in their skill as readers before becoming readers themselves. Rhyme teaches patterns and structures of both spoken and written language and exposes children to the rhythm of the language and builds fluency. Rhyme also prepares children to make predictions while learning words and gives them crucial decoding skills.Think of the fill in the blank opportunity for young readers as they learn words and sounds with similar endings. But, rhymes are not created equal, and many books that feature rhyme do not have complexity for growing readers.
Rhymes are a Tough Sell
Literary publishers and agents have shared that rhyming books can be a challenge for a few reasons. First, they are nearly impossible to translate which limits the market of your book. Meter can be a tricky thing to maneuver and many times writers have to make forced decisions to make it work. I've also read somewhere that techniques that have worked for some of the greats (like Dr. Seuss) don't hold up today. Making up words and silly phrases is now seen as sloppy instead of clever.
What's a Writer to Do?
That's up to the writer. For me, there's just too much that draws me to rhyme. The good outweighs the tough, so this little poet, who knows it, will keep on with the rhyme, at least for a time.