PICTURE BOOK FOCUS There IS an alternative to RHYME

Natascha Biebow shares tips on giving your picture book 
that all-important read-aloud zing!


When writers ask me, “Can I write my book in rhyme?”, my answer is usually:

“Unless you have a gift for writing in rhyme, it’s best to avoid it.”

But there is no doubt that rhyme, when done well, can be a delight to read aloud and it is fantastic for early language development. 

Like these fabulous, commercially successful and enduring examples:

So, if you want to have a go at writing in rhyme:

•  A good technique is to write out the story in prose to work out all the elements of character motivation, pacing and child-centred theme, and then you can re-work it in rhyme. This ensures that the story is solid before you work out how to tell it in rhyme.

A good test is to always ask yourself, “If I were telling this story to a young reader, would I tell it in this way and/or use these words/terms?”

Don’t forget rhythm! When read aloud, the words should naturally be pronounced according to the correct meter, stress and rhythm. 

If, however, writing in rhyme isn’t innate to you, what can you do? 

• Try using rhythm and refrains within your prose

• Onomatopeia and alliteration are your friends

Here are some rollicking read-aloud examples to get you started:

If you have FUN with language, it will most certainly come across in the joie-de-vivre of the text and be great to read aloud. What other examples can you find?


Natascha Biebow is an experienced editor, mentor, author and coach, who loves working with authors and illustrators at all levels to help them to shape their stories. www.blueelephantstoryshaping.com
Check out the Cook Up a Picture Book Coaching Courses.
She has been awarded an MBE for her services to children's book writers and illustrators as Regional Advisor of SCBWI British Isles
. Her first non-fiction picture book THE CRAYON MAN: THE TRUE STORY OF THE INVENTION OF CRAYOLA CRAYONS is out in March 2019.

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