Video: Why rhyme works in kids’ books

Why is rhyme such an enduring part of children’s literature? Canadian-Ghanaian writer Adwoa Badoe helps to explain its appeal in this video from education site TVO Parents.

Some of Adwoa’s contributions put rhyme in a Ghanaian context, so we’ve transcribed a few highlights at the bottom of this post.

Check the original TVO page to for some book recommendations from the panel. Adwoa’s choices include Atukei Okwai’s A Slim Queen in a Palanquin, which we recently added to our kids’ booklist on Pinterest.

You might also like Tahinta! A Rhyming Play for Children, by Mmofra’s founder Efua T Sutherland. There’s an audiobook sample on the Made by Mmofra page.

Transcriptions

The numbers are time references. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, you can use them to go straight to Adwoa’s sections.

3:25: On why rhyme is effective

“I think that it’s the patterns, and also the fact that you can anticipate what’s going to happen. Everybody wants to belong, and to belong you have to know what’s going to happen.

“I think pattern is just intrinsic to the human soul. Everybody craves it, even when we move. Everything we do has a pattern to it.”

6:45: On rhyme in Ghanaian languages

“Our languages are more rhythm than rhyme. If I think about the songs and the chants [that I grew up with] you would approach rhyme more through repeating a refrain than creating rhymes.

“Now rhyming is more and more common as people are doing hip-hop in Ghana. But before, we would do it by repetition, or by adding sounds like ‘ei’ and ‘o’ to our sentences.

After this Adwoa performs a chant from her book Nana’s Cold Days.

12:50: On learning nursery rhymes in Ghana

“Yes, I did. I think one of the best ways to get into language is to use children’s rhymes. That’s how we learned.

“We knew all those Mother Goose-type poems. I still recite them with my children. I think everyone should have a huge volume of verse and poetry for their children.”

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