Books of Action Rhymes

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 at 7:50 am

Maybe some people grew up knowing dozens of little hand plays – they learned them in preschool or at library story time or whatever.

I am not one of those people.

Furthermore, since my preemies aren’t supposed to spend time with other kids until they’re older, I can’t take my toddler to story time (lest my infant be exposed to kids). So I am stuck with books to learn those action rhymes – which is fine with me. Books are my preferred way of learning anyway.

I’ve checked out a few books of action rhymes, mostly as they come up in my reading of the “nursery rhyme” section – juvenile nonfiction Dewey Decimal 398.8, and am attempting to learn a few to share with Tirzah Mae.

Knock at the Door by Kay Chorao

Knock at the Door

A collection of 20 finger-plays conveniently organized with one or two per double-page spread. Each line of the finger-play is preceded by a small box illustrating the appropriate action. The illustrations are generally clear (or at least I was able to do something with them – whether or not it is correct is another story.) Best of all, the book also includes large illustrations of each rhyme – which means it’ll keep a child’s interest even if mama chooses not to do the finger-play (Guilty as charged – I’m working on it.)

Inside 'Knock at the Door'

Clap Your Hands: Finger Rhymes selected by Sarah Hayes, illustrated by Toni Goffe
A little over 20 finger-rhymes accompanied by illustrations of children performing the finger rhymes. Some of the illustrations make the actions perfectly clear, while others are decidedly less so. There are multiple rhymes to a page, making this less of a favorite for me than Chorao’s Knock at the Door.

Marc Brown’s Playtime Rhymes
Twenty finger plays and other action rhymes accompanied by small-box illustrations of each action and large illustrations depicting the content of the rhyme. While I detest Brown’s Arthur books, his illustrations in these classic rhymes are just fine. Some of these rhymes are more involved than others – but that’s okay. Each rhyme has its own double-page spread, which makes it easy to open up and just do one rhyme (not that I ever want to limit us to just one rhyme. *sarcasm*)

Playtime Rhymes for Little People by Clare Beaton

Playtime Rhymes for Little People

About 40 rhymes including familiar action rhymes (“Incy Wincy Spider” and “Head and Shoulders”) and unfamiliar ones, familiar songs (“The Wheels on the Bus” and “Here we Go round the mulberry bush”) and less familiar ones, and a range of “counting out” songs for selecting who’s “it” during playtime. Unlike several of the other collections I read, this does NOT include figures for how to “act out” the rhyme. Instead, instructions are given in italicized print at the bottom of the page. But, as with other Beaton titles, to focus on the text misses the highest point: Beaton’s lovely applique and embroidery illustrations. Oh how I long to make a collection of pieces in her style for our nursery! (But, time.)

Inside 'Playtime Rhymes for Little People'

Of the four collections reviewed here, I recommend either Knock at the Door or Marc Brown’s Playtime Rhymes for the mom seeking to learn new finger plays – and Playtime Rhymes for Little People for people who are interested in beautiful fabric art :-)


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