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Written by Chelsea Lin Wallace

Illustrated by Hyewon Yum

Example: The refrain

OH Bad Morning,

Eyes are crusty, bones are rusty. /-/-/-/-

Why do all my teeth feel dusty? /-/-/-/-

All I see is gray ahead. /-/-/-/

Can’t I stay inside my bed? /-/-/-/

Oh you Bad Morning.

Oh Too Much Milk in My Cereal,

Soggy, squishy? Boggy, mush! /-/-/-/

You turned my crispy into gushy! -/-/-/-/-

My flakes are drenched. -/-/

My fists are clenched. -/-/

Oh you Too Much MilK!


Refrains can be one line, or more lines, a few words, or a single word.

The wordage can vary.

A refrain can be repeated at regular intervals or irregular intervals.

A refrain can be used to escalate tension.

It can also add to the mood AND amplify emotion.

So now let’s take a look.

  • Did you notice how the refrain was used to express emotion in this story poem?
  • Did you notice that the refrain was set apart from the metrical rhythm of the stanza patterns? Can you do this? YES!
  • Did you notice that the refrain at the beginning AND the end.
  • Did you notice how this refrain varied in its phraseology?
  • Did you notice how the Dum-da dum-da pattern is broken up. This makes it interesting to read.

Kids love repeated patterns. This brings them comfort. Helps them to predict what is coming next and builds confidence. When a child connects to a story, they learn new words and ways of using them.


By M.H. Clark

Illustrated by Laura Carlin

Example: The ana​pest

When the night sky is high like a ceiling of stars, --/--/--/--/

I look up at the face of the moon. --/--/--/

What do you see, I ask, there where you are? /--/--/--/

And the moon says, right now, I see you. --/--/--/

I count the bright hundreds of waves on the sea -/--/--/--/

As they crash and they rush to the shore. --/--/--/

And I let those waves touch their cold hands to my feet. --/--/--/--/

Roar, say the waves, so I roar. /--/--/


The galloping rhythm of anapests can give poems a jaunty and buoyant feeling. The use of the anapest becomes ideal for lighthearted limericks, children's stories, and jokes.

Compared with the heart-like beat of an iamb the anapest extends the duration between stresses, which in turn amplifies the stressed syllables to a greater degree.

One of the benefits of the anapest is the sing-songy (marching) rhythm.

One of the detriments of the anapest is the the sing-songy (marching) rhythm. 

To overcome the tediousness of this jog-trot meter, the writer will often swap out the anapest with the dactyl.

  • Did you notice how the author did this in line 3 of the first stanza?
  • Did you see it again in line 4 of the second stanza?
  • Did you notice that the hard beats remain the same?

This metrical switch can keep a reader engaged. In fact, did you not feel like roaring with the last line in the second stanza? I did.

The anapest holds within itself the potential for great variety. It can be cheerful and light but also intense and suspenseful.


A forest Floor Mystery

By Katelyn Aronson

Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

Example: The iamb

Once upon a forest floor /-/-/-/

A snout poked out a burrowed door -/-/-/-/

And wheezed and sneezed for on the breeze -/-/-/-/

There came a hint of . . . POO. -/-/-/

Sniff, sniff? Went mouse. Whiff, whiff! Went Mouse. / /-/ //-/

“Who left this poo outside my house?” -/-/-/-/

“I must undo this mystery. -/-/-/-/

Poo-dunit?” Oh, Squiiiiirel. . . /-/-/-


Meter is a term for rhythm in poetry.

The iamb is a (da- DUM) rhythm. Because of its even pacing it is often referred to as the heartbeat rhythm.

This is all very lovely but why exactly should we study rhythm? In poetry it’s all about. . .

  • Capturing an emotional response.
  • Elevating a piece of work.
  • Heighten the pleasure of listening.
  • Creating images.
  • Invoking a mood.
  • Painting with words.

Just like a heartbeat, iambs can lull you to sleep. Oh, what to do! Wait a minute!

Did you notice how this author chose to rouse us out of our boredom?

  • With a few Spondees thrown in there.
  • Inserting metrical variation.
  • With a line of dialogue.
  • Adding lines that rhyme with nothing! Yes, you can do that!

How did you react when you read that fourth line? Did you sit up like I did?

This delightful informational fiction book is worth a read. So childlike and fun!


By Ali Brydon

Illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

Example: The use of Caesura

There’s magic in the winter air, -/-/-/-/

As all creatures are aware. /-/-/-/

A sway and creak as pines bow low, -/-/-/-/

And then begins the song of snow. -/-/-/-/

The forest calls, and creatures come: -/-/-/-/

Big and small, one by one. /-//-/

They sense there is a task to do -/-/-/-/

As night descends, replacing blue. -/-/-/-/


Everyone speaks, and everyone breathes while speaking. Such pauses come naturally from the rhythm of your speech. Poetry also uses pauses.

One such pause is known as “caesura,” often occurs in the middle of a line. But it can also appear at the beginning or end.

  • Did you notice the caesura in middle of the second stanza?
  • Did you feel yourself taking a deep breath as you read.

Caesuras are effective because they break the monotony. They force the reader to focus on the meaning behind the words.

Sometimes writers are concerned about their poem becoming too sing-songy. What can we do to wake us up? 

Metrical variation is the method best used. One great variation is the caesura. 


By Imogene Foxell

Art by Anna Cunha

Example: The Use of Repetition

They said I could’nt change the world -/-/-/-/

It wasn’t worth the fight. -/-/-/

But in my head, a small voice said. . . -/-/-/-/

Maybe you might. /-/-


Repetition reuses words, phrases, images, or structures multiple times.

Writers use this technique to emphasize something they find important. This could be a theme, a character’s characteristics, or the terrible, or wonderful, state of the world. In this way the meaning accrues through the repetition.

It can be used in any part of the poem. It does not have to be limited to the ending or beginning.

Repetition is a way to produce deeper levels of emphasis, clarity, and amplification.

This approach can also be employed to persuade. One famous example is the I HAVE A DREAM speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

If you want to write a poem with repetition, first think about the point you want to get across. Then experiment on how you can incorporate a repeated word, phrase, line, or stanza into your poem.

It is equally crucial to note that readers can experience repetition fatigue. Repetition can be overused.

But when done properly, it has great impact.

In this story poem the repetition is sprinkled throughout like a spice. And it is not always the same phrase. The author has handled this technique with proficiency.


By Andria Warmflash Rosennbaum

Illustrated by Brett Curzon

Example: Metrical Variation

Boats are bobbing in the bay, /-/-/-/

Waiting to be on their way. /-/-/-/

Longing for the reaching tide. /-/-/-/

Needing to explore and glide. /-/-/-/

Early morning, rise and shine, /-/-/-/

Fishing boats with nets and line. /-/-/-/

Underneath a cloudless sky, /-/-/-/

Dragon boats go flying by. /-/-/-/


In poetry there is a rhythm to words. This is called the base meter. In the base meter the hard beats always stay the same. Rhythm makes it fun to read and easy to remember.

However, when it comes to metered poetry, rhythm is more important than the end rhyme.

Even in this area one can fall into a rut. It happens when the poem becomes sing-songy. Sing-songy means it's boring and tedious. To solve that problem we need, metrical variation.

Why do we want metrical variation?

  • To change the pace of the poem.
  • Force the reader to speed up or slow down.
  • Emphasize certain words or phrases
  • Introduce a refrain.
  • Give the reader a surprise, something unexpected.

How do we achieve metrical variation? Here are a few examples. 

  • Hypercatalectic is when one or two soft beats have been added.
  • Catalectic is when one or two soft beats have been subtracted.
  • There is also headless meter. This is when a soft beat is missing from the beginning of the line.
  • And Truncated meter. This is when one or two soft beats are missing from the end of the line.

Did you notice in the lines above that the soft beat is missing at the end of each line, making it truncated? Maybe you didn’t notice. That’s because the soft beats are hardly missed.

The poem is lovely and well done.

In addition, this happens to be an informational picture book. You are being educated in the best way. Facts are woven in without our even noticing. Learning becomes fun. 


By Julia Richardson

Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

Example: Onomatopoeia

Let’s build a little train -/-/-/

To chug along the track -/-/-/

That goes from here to there -/-/-/

And circles round and back. -/-/-/


We’ll need a giant warehouse -/-/-/-

With lots of helping hands, -/-/-/

And engineer will manage -/-/-/-

And supervise commands. -/-/-/


A worker cuts the metal -/-/-/-

To make the bogie base -/-/-/

And welds it all together -/-/-/-

With goggles on his face. -/-/-/



Onomatopoeia indicates a word that sounds like what it refers to.

So why use onomatopoeia in your writing?

For example. You could say your house blew up. Or you could say my house went BOOM!

You could say you dropped the water balloon on the floor. Or you could say the water balloon went SPLAT.

In each of the second examples, the reader supplies the sensory effects with their own imagination. The imaginary world becomes their own.

  • Did you notice how the words “Chooooo!” and “Chugga!” heightened the experience for the reader?
  • Can you not hear your own child repeating these words? Perhaps over and over?
  • Did you notice how it broke up the monotony of the iamb with fun, lively and playful words? 

Do you have a good WIP? Want to make it better than good? Why not insert some onomatopoeia. See what happens when you do.


Written by Lynn Becker

Art by Scott Brundage

Example: The refrain​

What do you do with a grumpy kraken? /--/--/-/-

Crabby, cranky, crusty kraken? /-/-/-/-

What do you do with a grumpy kraken? /--/--/-/-

Kraken in the briny. /-/-/-

Share some jokes and your best riddle, /-/-/-/-

Feed her cakes from Cookie’s griddle, /-/-/-/-

Teach her how to bow the fiddle, /-/-/-/-

Kraken in the briny. /-/-/-

Yo! Ho! And Arrr! We’re flooding, / /-/-/-

Yo! Ho! The deck is mudding, / /-/-/-

Yo! Ho! Our anchor’s thudding, / /-/-/-

Kraken in the briny. /-/-/-


Refrain is a verse, a line, a set, or a group of lines that appears at the end of a stanza, or appears where a poem divides into different sections. It originated in France, where it is popular as, refraindre, which means “to repeat.”

A refrain can include rhymes, but it is not necessary.

Ever heard a song on the radio and been unable to get it out of your head? It likely got stuck there because of the chorus. In poetry, the chorus is called a refrain. It helps a lot that this poem is set to actual music.

When a story becomes music, the child will ask for it to be read again an again. If the story is informational, then the information is reinforced.

  • Did you notice that the refrain takes on more meaning.
  • Did you notice that it builds like a crescendo and increases the poem’s drama.

Why not try writing a playful poem using facts and information. This makes learning fun. Which happens to be the best way.

In this story back matter is included.

Are you not intrigued by the title alone? I was!


By Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Art by

Kate Kronreif

Example: The use of the caesura.  

Teacher says it’s time to write. /-/-/-/

UGH. I clench my pencil tight. /-/-/-/

I peek outside – it’s gloomy, gray. -/-/-/-/

Cloudy. Like my brain today. /-/-/-/


A caesura is a pause that occurs within a line of poetry, usually marked by some form of punctuation such as a period, comma, ellipsis, or dash.

A caesura can be found anywhere after the first word and before the last word of a line.

So why would a caesura be a good idea in poetry?

  • Sometimes it breaks the monotonous rhythm of a line. It is very easy to get into a rut when it comes to iambic meter.
  • Sometimes it creates a dramatic or ominous effect.
  1. Like for example did you notice the emotional and theatrical touch with the use of the word, UGH?
  2. And also did you notice the feeling imparted by the word, CLOUDY? When I read this word, I almost wanted to raise my voice to vent the frustration this line implies.

Caesura is an effective technique when you want to add emotional layers. Plus, it’s fun!


By Deborah Bruss

Illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Francher

Example: Repetition

Good night,/ homes, and/ good night, /cars. /-/-/-/

Clouds move/ in to/ hide the/ stars. /-/-/-/

Good night,/ farms, and/ good night,/ town. /-/-/-/

Tin y /flakes start/ twirl ing/ down. /-/-/-/

Good night,/ play ground/ turn ing/ white. /-/-/-/

Good night,/ snow plow!/ Not to /night! /-/-/-/


Refrain is somewhat different from repetition. Refrain is repetition of usually a line, a phrase, two or three lines, or even words in a poem.

Repetition, on the other hand, involves repetition of WORDS, PHRASES, SYLLABLES, or even sounds in a full piece.

Another difference is that a refrain in a poem may appear at the end of a stanza; however, repetition of words and phrases may occur in any line of stanza.

When a line or phrase recurs in a poem, or a piece of literature, the idea become memorable. This story starts out with the phrase Good Night. Yet the title is Good Morning! Are you not intrigued?

There are two types of repetition: exact and general. Exact repetitions refer to words or phrases that are repeated verbatim. These repetitions provide clarity and unity for the reader/listener because they give context to what is being said.

General repetitions include examples such as sentence structure or themes that are repeated throughout a text or argument. General repetitions provide a framework within which different ideas can be discussed. GOOD MORNING, SNOWPLOW is an excellent example of general repetitions. If you were to read the rest of this book you could easily see that the idea of what snowplows do while we are sleeping is repeated. 


By Janet Lawler

Illustrated by

Holly Clifton-Brown

Example: The Use Of Enjambment

I ma/gine moms/ beneath/ the waves -/-/-/-/

with lots/ of love/ to share. -/-/-/

Whate/ver might/ they say/ or do -/-/-/-/

to show/ how much/ they care? -/-/-/

+Her/mit crab/ shops here/ and there +/-/-/-/

to find/ a room/y shell. -/-/-/

She gen/tly backs/ her bab/y in. -/-/-/-/

“Now, does/n’t that/ fit well?” -/-/-/


The term enjambment comes from the French words jambe, meaning leg, and enjamber, meaning to straddle or step over. This is a literary device that allows the poet to compose a sentence that runs on to the next line before reaching a full stop. The lack of punctuation creates suspense and momentum.

  • Did you notice that the reader feels propelled forward through the poem?
  • Did you notice how these interruptions arouse uncertainty, an uneasy pause, encouraging readers to move to the next line. 

This is a wonderful book to read with your child snuggled in your arms.

By Gabby Dawnay

Illustrated by

Ian Morris

Example: The Use Of The Couplet

There is a special place for books, -/-/-/-/

A place they live in shelves and nooks. -/-/-/-/

From A to Z stacked high in piles -/-/-/-/

These books go on for miles and miles. . . -/-/-/-/

So come inside and take a look -/-/-/-/

It’s time to find your favorite book! -/-/-/--/


A couplet features two consecutive lines of poetry that typically rhyme and have the same meter. A couplet can be part of a poem or a poem on its own.

By distilling the main ideas of the poem into these brief two-line units, the poet creates more of an impact with the form.

Emotion, and tone all must be condensed into these units, making each word choice count.

  • Did you notice the light stepped pace with these couplets?
  • Did you notice the playful tone, as if tiptoeing into a room?
  • Did you notice how both lines complete the one thought?
  • Did you notice the image each couplet has created?

Why not take your current WIP and revise it to a couplet. Maybe a happy accident will occur!


By Laurie Purdie Salas

Art by Carlos Velez Aquilera

Example: Mixed Meter

WELCOME! You’re here. /--/

LookI am here too. //--/

There are so many --/-

excel lent things we can do, /--/--/

And I’m glad we are here. --/--/

I’m glad that you’re you. -/--/ 

Maybe you’re quiet. /--/-

You wonder. You dream. -/--/


Vary or mix meter when you want to...

  • Avoid a singsong cadence, which can become tedious after a while.
  • Force the reader to slow down, speed up, pause, or stop.
  • Emphasize certain words, phrases, or actions.

There are allowable ways to do this.

  • Hypercatalectic: Where one or more unstressed syllables have been added
  • Catalectic: Where one unstressed syllable is subtracted.
  • Headless meter: Where one or more unstressed syllables is subtracted at the beginning of the line.
  • Truncated meter: Where one or more unstressed syllables in the middle or at the end of the line
  • A pyrrhus (pyrrhic foot) consists of two unstressed syllables. 

In this poem the author has chosen to capture your attention in the introduction. You stop. You pause. You take note. Now let's examine how this was done.

  • First word is “Welcome!”
  • This is followed by Look – I am here!
  • The words LOOK and I’M are accented syllables meant to say "wake up, pay attention to me."
  • The next line "excellent things we can do!" is part of the entry into the subject.

From then on, the rhythm shifts from the bouncy staccato introduction to the meat of the story. The author gives the reader a hug with words. A rumination of deep things, a list of personality features. We’re alike but we’re different too. And that is okay! We are drawn in.

I certainly found my inner child in this book. I think every child will find a bit of themselves too.

just add


by Angela Diterlizzi

art by Smantha Cotterill 

Example: Spondee

Bored, I/gnored, or/ fee/ling down? /-/-/-/

Need some/ fanc/y in/ your town? /-/-/-/

Want some/ shine u/pon your/ crown? /-/-/-/+

Just add glitter! / / /


The spondee is a metrical device where you put an equal amount of stress on each word. It is commonly used to change the pace of a poem. To add a heightened feeling or emotional experience. It adds expectancy and or excitement.

  • Did you notice the use of the Spondee in the last line?
  • Did you notice that the last line in the stanza rhymes with nothing?
  • Children will catch on fast, and love repeating the line with you.


By Rina Horiuchi

Art by Risa Horiuchi

Example: Alliteration


Ape picks an apple for Aardvark below. /--/--/--/


Bat put a bandage on Brown Bear’s big toe. /--/--/--/


Cow covers Cat with a coat cause he’s cold. /++/+-/--/--/


Donkey gives Dog her dolly to hold. /--/-+/--/


Alliteration is a literary device in which a series of words begin with the same consonant sound. 

  • Alliteration is the repetition of sounds, not just letters.
  • Alliterative words don’t have to be right next to each other. Other words can appear between them.
  • Alliteration is found often in poetry and prose, as well as in commercial writing like brand names and marketing taglines.

The benefits of using alliteration in your writing is you make an idea stand out. It can emphasize something important.

Do you have a simple alphabet story? Want to make it pop? Try using alliteration. See what happens to your story when you do.


by Rebecca Kraft Rector

Art by Dana Wulfekotte

Example: Internal Rhyme

“Hurry-scurry, kids,” called Mom.

“Let’s jiggety-jog into town in our gracious-spacious automobile.”

Max and Molly hurry-scurried into the car.

“Okey-dokey?” asked Mom.

“I’m squished,” said Max.

“Move over, Molly.”

“I’m squashed,” said Molly.

“Mover over, Max.”


Internal rhyme occurs in the middle, or anywhere, in lines of poetry, except the end. It is a lyrical device.

  • You can take a story that has saturated the market and make it stand out.
  • You can take a good story and set it up a notch.
  • Did you notice the musicality in this story?
  • Did you notice the fun and hilarity factor?

So just go ahead and tell you story. Don’t be forced or constrained into a metrical pattern where the story is serving the rhyme. Add an internal rhyme or two here and there and see where it takes you.


By Dianne White

Art by Felicita Sala

Example: The Antanaclasis  

Yel/low the flow/ er. /--/-

Yel/low the seed. /--/

Yel/low and black/the buss/ ing bee. /--/-/-/

Le/mo nade pe/tals. /--/-

Sun/flakes be tween /--/

Le/mo nade , Sun/flakes, and yel/low on green. /--/--/--/


Antanaclasis is a rhetorical device in which a phrase or word is repeatedly used, though the meaning of the word changes in each case. It is the repetition of a similar word in a sentence with different meanings, or a word is repeated in two or more different senses.

Antanaclasis helps in giving an exciting contrast with different meanings of the same word. It enhances the dramatic and persuasive impact of a piece of writing or speech.

  • Did you notice the contrast of what the word yellow can be?
  • Did you notice the contrast of the what the word lemonade cold be?
  • Did you notice the repetition of the phrase yellow on green?

In this delightful poem you will also see how the Antanaclasis is used to create the passing of time and make the resolution dramatic.

I highly recommend reading this book to find out how the author has used this technique in wonderful ways. 


by Jenny Cooper

Example: The Anaphora

Do your ears hang low? /-/-/

Do they wobble to and fro? /-/-/-/

Can you tie them in a knot? /-/-/-/

Can you tie them in a bow? /-/-/-/


Anaphora is a rhetorical device that features the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences.

This piques the interest of the reader immediately. In the case of this poem, we see that we are about to embark on a comical journey.

As a literary device, anaphora functions to emphasize words and ideas. Readers often remember passages that feature anaphora. This enhances a reader’s experience and enjoyment of language because it resembles music.

The anaphor is not limited to poetry but works well with prose and in speeches. In speeches it is done as a call to action and creates a powerful urgency in making a choice.

  • Can you pick out the anaphora repetition in this stanza?
  • Did you notice the anaphora does not have the same number of beats as the other lines?

The anaphora works great in concept poems. It can make your poem rise above the ordinary.


By Deborah Underwood

Art by

Irene Chan

Example: The List Poem

Kind/ness is some/times +/--/-

a cup/ and a card -/--/

or a lad/der, a truck,/ and a tree; --/--/--/

a scratch/ and a cud/dle, -/--/-

a rake/ and a yard, -/--/

a cook/ie, a car/rot, a key. -/--/--/


List poems are perfect when trying to use rhyme in picture books.

  • Did you notice the undramatic story arc.
  • Did you notice the lists made?
  • Did you notice the lyrical, rhythmical tone?

If you were to read the rest of this book you would notice it is not heavy in end rhymes. The rhyme is interspersed, like a flavorful spice.

This picture book poem does all the work of a story picture book. But it does more, it tells us how to be kind, in a believable and engaging way.


By Andrea Beaty

Art by Vashti Harrison

Example: Metaphor/ Simile

I love/ you like/ yel low. -/-/+/-

I love/ you like/ green. -/-/+/

Like flow/er y or/chids -/-/+/-

And sweet/ tan ge/rines. -/+/-/


A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two non-similar things.

A Simile makes this same comparison by using the words "like" or "as." In fact, simile is a subset of a metaphor.

Metaphors are dependent on the combination of a principal term and a secondary term. The principal term conveys the concrete or literal entity, and the secondary term is used figuratively to add meaning. An effective metaphor eliminates the need for excessive explanation or description on the part of the writer.

This is useful for abstract images and concepts.

Have you ever found that words are not enough? Have you ever felt that there are no words to express how you feel?

This is where a metaphor/simile comes in. We use a metaphor/simile to conjure thoughts on what we see, taste, hear, smell and feel. How? It causes the reader to think about the “logic” or "truth" in such a comparison. These thoughts, in turn, may evoke emotion in the reader with the realization that the comparison is valid.

The metaphor/simile can pack a punch.

  • Did you notice how the feelings of yellow and green are described in the next line?
  • Did you notice how these simile's evoke an emotion or memory?
  • Did you notice this poem was written with near rhymes? This is blank verse and is metered but not necessarily rhyming.
  • This gives greater freedom to the poet.

You may have to think a little to find the meaning in a metaphor/ simile. Parent and child can do this while looking at the pictures and spending bonding moments together.


By Renée LaTulippe

Art by Cécile Metzger

Example: Poem In Two Languages

tur tles spi ral in be tween. +/-/-/-/

A sea horse pair glides on the scene,-/-/-/-/

Bows deep and low, then sou bre saut! -/-/-/-/

An el e gant mar ine rou tine. -/-/-/-/


This is a story of how the tide is like ballet, with each character appearing then disappearing.

We feel like we are watching theater with a theme, story and atmosphere.

But first a little introduction. Please allow me to digress.

Ballet is made up of gestures, movements, ebb and flow, in many ways like a tide.

The French phrasing has remained universal in ballet.

Ballet dancers across the world learn and can communicate with this universal ballet terminology.

How about using foreign words to infuse your poem with something rich and a taste of the unexplored?

Take your meter and rhythm away from the predictable.

You will of course need access to a good foreign language dictionary.


By Kristyn Crow

Art by

Annie Won

Example: The Picture Book Poem

If you’re restless and can’t sleep, /-/-/-/

come explore the jungle deep, /-/-/-/

where the beasts and critters creep. /-/-/-/

All aboard the moonlight train. /-/-/-/

There's a toucan at the gate- /-/-/-/

Takes your ticket, checks the date. /-/-/-/

March aboard! Wild things await. /-/-/-/

All aboard the moonlight train. /-/-/-/


Do all picture books have to have a story structure? No. In fact, picture books work best when written in a poem structure. You are not forced into making a story serve the rhyme. Yet, the above poem is beautiful, is it not?

Are you not transported into a dream like world?

  • Did you notice the poem is just exploring the sights and senses aboard a moonlight train?
  • Did you notice the refrain at the end of each stanza?
  • Poetry helps develop an awareness of language, phonic patterns, and rhythms.
  • Poetry can transport children into delightful worlds of imagination and silliness.
  • Children acquire a palate for beauty of the written word.


by Beth Ferry

Art by

Brigette Barrager

Example: The Use Of The Anapest

When bedtime is near, +-/--/

and teeth are all brushed. -/--/

And the house is asleep, --/--/

and noises are hushed, +-/--/

you might hear a tune, -/--/

you might be in luck. -/--/

You might get a visit. -/--/-

From the NICE DREAM TRUCK. --/ / /

Why does this work and how can it help you?

An anapest consists of two unstressed syllables followed by on stressed syllable. An anapest can be a single word, two or three words. This stress pattern gives anapestic verse a light and nimble rhythm that evokes the galloping of a horse or the rolling of ocean waves.

Anapest can become very sing-songy and the reader easily bored and reading tedious. There is a fix to this problem. Enter the truncated/headless meter. What is a truncated meter? What is headless meter?

  • Headless anapest is a first unstressed syllable that is missing or omitted.
  • Truncated meter is a line of poetry that is missing a syllable in the middle or at the end of a line.
  • Did you notice the headless meters in lines 1, 2. And lines 5 – 11?

Do you have a manuscript in anapest meter? Why not break it up? Insert a headless/truncated meter here and there and see what happens!

See if you can get your hands on this book. It is a delight!


by Tony Johnston art by Amy June Bates

Example: Blank Verse

A child/ is born/ one win/ter day -/-/-/-/

His moth/er calls/ him lamb. -/-/-/

She hums/ a tune/ that has/ no words -/-/-/-/

and holds/ her bab/y’s hands. -/-/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice that the first stanza has near rhymes?
  • Did you notice it holds its rhythm all the way through?

This concept book has more near rhymes than true rhymes. How can a rhyme crime such as this be published! However this is blank verse. Blank verse is metered but not have to rhyme. This story has a few near rhymes and a pure rhyme sprinkled here and there. 

A poignant story that in my opinion, is well done!

Example: Cadence


By Charles Ghigna

Let's build a poem -/-/-

made of rhyme /-/

with words like ladders -/-/-

with word that climb, -/-/

with words that like -/-/

to take their time. -/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Cadence can be described as: a rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words.

In poetry, it is the where you naturally want to pause, that sets the pace of a literary piece.

  • Did you notice how the hard beats of this poem appear to match the pounding of a hammer?
  • Did you notice the structure of this poem appears to match that of climbing a ladder?

Cadence connects the sounds and senses to each other. It helps you not only read the words but experience the words. Cadence can make you feel. It has the power to get under your skin, linger and sometimes unsettle you. 


By Jennifer Ward

Illustrated by Alexander Vidal

Example: Rhyme and Non-Fiction

Just you/ and me. -/-/

Just me/ and you. -/-/

We’re per/fect pairs! -/-/

Here’s what/ we do. . . -/-/

Some animals and plants form lifelong partnerships

with other animals and plants, a relationship known

as symbiosis. Then they cooperate and help each other

in the most unlikely ways.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

This book is jam packed with important information. Expository narration of facts can bog us down at times. Want to make it stand out? Want to make it sing? Enter mix and match rhyme.

  • Did you notice the first stanza is of metered rhyme? It introduces the matter to be discussed.
  • The next paragraph is of non-rhyme and expounds and elaborates upon the topic. It can be any length. It is not constrained by meter. It simply says what you want it to say. And in the way you want to say it.

This book continues with the one stanza of poetry followed by one paragraph of non-rhyming facts.

Do you have a non-fiction manuscript that isn’t getting noticed? Why not add some shine to it. Like rhyme?


By Catherine Amari and Anouk Han

Art by Erni Lenox

Example: Metrical Variation

Blue cat Brown cat /-/-

High cat Low cat /-/-

Always upside-down cat. /-/-/-

Fluffed cat Bare cat /-/-

Round cat Square cat /-/-

Long cat short cat /-/-

Rarely-ever-there cat. /-/-/-

Why does this work and how can it help you?

You might think this is a rhyming book in its simplest form. Until you look further.

  • Did you notice the variation in the rhyming pattern? This keeps the poem from becoming too sing-songy, thereby helping the reader to stay interested.
  • Did you notice that there are no end rhymes with each line ending with cat, cat, cat. This is another technique useful for keeping our interest. When it come to meter it is important to rhyme the stressed beats. We are not put into a corner and forced to use only end rhyme.

The only hard and fast rule is for a rhyme to land on a stressed beat. The author here has chosen to rhyme the second to last beat.

Why not give it a go yourself? Write a poem using this technique of rhyming a stressed beat anywhere in the line. See if it does not surprise you and refresh you.

Pick a stanza pattern you want. Make sure it is consistent. And have fun!


By Kathy Wolff

Illustrated by Margaux Meganck

Example: Hypercatalectic/Catalectic/Ellipsis

All we need --/

Is what’s found/ in the breeze, --/--/

In the still/ness of noth/ing, --/--/+

In the rust/le of trees, --/--/

When we take/ a deep breath, --/--/

What’s not seen/ – but is there. . . --/--/

All we need. . . is air. --/-+/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Meter in poetry is an internal beat or rhythm. It is a music of accented and unaccented syllables arranged into feet. Many times, people confuse meter with syllables. However, in rhyming poetry, we only count hard beats. When it comes to soft beats, we are given a small reprieve.

  • Catalectic is where one or two soft beats are missing.
  • Hypercatalectic is where one or two soft beats are added.
  • Can you find the added or subtracted soft beats in the stanzas?

This is allowable and advantageous. It prevents the poem from becoming sing-songy. The only danger is in the overuse of the soft beat. You are permitted about two per stanza. After that the reader becomes confused.

Ellipsis is a literary device used to omit some parts of a sentence or event, which gives the reader a chance to fill the gaps while reading. It is usually written between the sentences as a series of three dots, like this: “…”

  • Did you notice that in this story, the ellipsis is like a long breath, a pause, a heartbeat.

It is also used as a page turn. Allowing the child to try and guess what the answer would be. The child is engaged, and learning becomes an enjoyable experience. The story poem will take your breath away. 


THE DEEP BLUE a poetry collection

By Charlotte Guillian

Art by Lou Baker Smith


Example: Rhythm In Lyrical Prose

Water laps and creeps up the beach under

a moonlit Sky. Soon the shore has vanished

underwater, as waves roll steadily on to the land.

By Daybreak, the sea has slipped away again,

leaving shiny pebbles and gleaming mud flats

to dry in the morning sun. In and out, in and

out -the tides are constantly moving.  

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Rhythm in writing acts as a beat does in music. The use of rhythm arises from the need to express some words more strongly than others. They might be stressed for a longer period. This produces a pattern or sequence.

Rhythm captivates and gives prose a musical effect. It is just as effective as metered poetry.

  • Do you not feel the water’s pull as you read each line?
  • Are your senses not immersed and calmed by the pull of the tide?
  • Do you want to capture an essence of a feeling but are stuck by the limits of meter?

Clear away the clutter of extemporaneous words. Think in pictures instead of words. Think in terms of senses. By doing this you will find your rhythm. 


By Kathleen Doherty

Art by Kristyna Litton

Example: Onomatopoeia And Internal Rhyme

One night, under the light of the silvery moon,

all of Bear’s friends were deep asleep.

The Bear- wasn't sleepy he wanted to play.

So he wandered off to find some fun in people town.

Tap. Poke. Sniff.

Bare nosed around until he found...

It looked friendly.

Bear plopped down on its lap.

Bingity. Bing. Boing!

The Thingity-jig was a springy thing.

A bouncy thing.

A sit-on-it, hop-on-it,

jump-on-it thing.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Onomatopoeia creates a sound that mimics the effect. It makes the description more expressive and interesting.

For instance, we could say she fell asleep. Or we could simply write: “Zzzzzz.“

This makes the descriptions livelier and more interesting, appealing directly to the senses of the reader. Onomatopoeia helps the reader enter the world created.

Internal rhyme is rhyme that occurs in the middle of lines of poetry, instead of at the ends of lines. A single line of poetry can contain internal rhyme (with multiple words in the same line rhyming), or the rhyming words can occur across multiple lines.

Internal rhymes can appear in any type of poetry or prose. It gives you freedom to tell your story. It makes your manuscript musical. A manuscript that is fun to read will always stand out and rise above.

Do you have a good story but it needs something? Why not give onomatopoeia and internal rhyme a try. See if it doesn't take it up a notch. 



by Marshall Silverman

illustrated by Ida Osterman 

Example: Diction

Well, Mon/day was/ a blu/rry fuzz; -/-/-/-/

It left/ me in/ a fog.-/-/-/

+Sore/ and sad,/ I asked/ my dad, +/-/-/-/

Could I/ please have/ a dog? -/-/-/

A dog/gy pup/ would cheer/ me up, -/-/-/-/

Just like/ an an/ti dote. -/-/-/

I had/ a fish./ His name/ was Splish. -/-/-/-/

And all/ he did/ was float. -/-/-/ 

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Diction, or choice of words, can elevate your story from average to excellent. It will mean the difference between getting passed over to noticed.

Writers choose words to create a mood, tone, atmosphere.

And when used with humor it makes you sit up and pay attention.

  • Did you notice the internal rhymes?
  • Did you notice the assonance?
  • Did you notice the alliteration?

These pepper the story throughout.

Why not take some time and look for the unusual word choice? With picture books we are limited in our word count. Why use up valuable real estate with average words. Use strong language choices to make strong images. 


by Michelle Lord 

art by Julia Blattman

Example: Cumulative Story Structure

This is the mess that we made.

These are the fish that swim in the mess that we made.

This is the seal that eats the fish that swim in the mess that we made.

This is the net that catches the seal, that eats the fish that swim in the mess that we made.

This is the boat of welded steel, that dumps the net, that catches the seal, that eats the fish that swim in the mess that we made.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

A Cumulative Story is a story that builds on a pattern. It starts with one person, place, thing, or event. Each time a new person,

place, thing, or event is shown, all the previous ones are repeated.

Each event reinforces the initiating problem of the story and a new attempt at solving it. It helps children to think of different solutions.

  • Did you notice the problem, initiating event, character intentions and desires, and moral are there?
  • This is fun because children soon pick up on the refrain and increase their own vocabulary.
  • Did you notice how each event adds momentum? Thereby increasing tension?


by Chris Tougas 

art Jose'e Bisaillon

Example: Caesura

​​I had/ a po/em in/ my pock/et, -/-/-/-/-

+but/ my pock/et got/ a rip. +/-/-/-/

Rhymes tumbl/ed down/ my leg, -/-/-/

and trickl/ed from/ my hip. -/-/-/

+Slip/ping, slid/ing, dip/ping, div/ing, +/-/-/-/-

+rhyt/hms hit/ the ground. + Then... +/-/-/+ /

A whirl/ing, twirl/ing, swirl/ng wind -/-/-/-/

Blew all/ my rhymes/ a round. -/-/-/ 

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Everyone speaks, and everyone breathes while speaking. Poetry also uses pauses in its lines.

One such pause is known as “caesura,” a rhythmical pause in a poetic line. Though it can occur in the middle of a line, or sometimes at the beginning and the end. At times, it occurs with punctuation; at other times it does not.

  • Did you notice the caesura in the second line of the second stanza?
  • Did you notice how this caused you to pause?
  • Did you notice the expectation this created?

It can create drama, enhance momentum and complexity. Make your poem stand out by means of a caesura. 


by Meg Fleming

Illustrations by Diana Sudyka 

Example: Repetition

​​Some times/ driz zle. /-/-

Drip drip/ drain. / / /+

Some times/ pic nic. /-/-

Some times/ rain. /-/+

Some times/ drop ping. /-/-

Stead y,/ chill. /-/+

Some times/ frost ing /-/-

E very/ Hill. /-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

One of the fundamentals of poetry is the recurrence of sounds, syllables, words, phrases, lines, and stanzas. Repetition can be an intoxicating feature of poetry. It creates expectations, it can arouse emotions, memories, incite enchantment and inspire bliss.

Repetition in poetry is a technique of repeating different words or phrases. Repetition creates structure within a poem. It helps readers focus on a specific thought or emotion.

  • Repetition can occur at any point in the poem.
  • Did you notice that this is a list poem?
  • Did you notice how these repetitions are of contrasts and similarities.
  • Did you notice how these repetitions can tweak our view?

If you want to write a poem with repetition, first think about the point you want to get across. What is the part you want your readers to focus on? Then plan on how you can incorporate a repeated word, phrase, line, or stanza into your poem.


by Alex Beard

Example: Breaking The Fourth Wall

There once/ was a king -/--/

who liked/ to tell lies.-/--/

He said/ it was day -/--/

Beneath/ the skies. -/-/

“Good Morning."

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Image a stage, where the actor stops and speaks directly to the audience. The invisible wall that separates the audience from the actor is the fourth wall.

An aside shown above is but one way to break the fourth wall. But why would we want to do that in our writing? What are the benefits?

In story picture books with a character arc, you must have emotional resonance. This is the most difficult part of writing a picture book. It is made more challenging when trying to do so in rhyme.

The aside achieves this by speaking to the reader. The aside can communicate important information and makes the reader a confidante.

  • Did you notice that the aside does not need to rhyme?
  • Did you notice that The Lying King is expressing his emotions to the reader?
  • Did you notice how this technique pulls the reader into the experience?


By Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty

Example: Story Book Poetry

The day Nell joined the pi rate crew -/-/-/-/

was full of hope; a dream come true! -/-/-/-/

For great ad ven tures filled her head -/-/-/-/

from e very tale she’d e ver read. -/-/-/-/

Nell wond ered what she ought to pack. -/-/-/-/

Of course! Her pi rate’s al ma nac. -/-/-/-/


Often picture book writers are told to NOT to rhyme. Agreed there are challenges to overcome. Challenges like is the story serving the rhyme or is the rhyme serving the story. Are we losing the plot, tension and character arc in the process?

Do not lose heart for this can be overcome.

Here are the W questions every story needs to ask. Who is the main character? Where is the story taking place? What does the main character want? Why does the main character want this? Let’s see how these questions are answered with this story.

  • Who-Nell
  • Where- A pirate ship
  • Wants- To join a pirate ship
  • Why- For great adventures

We are introduced to a girl named Nell who wants to have great adventures. To achieve her goal, she decides to join a pirate ship. We learn a bit about her character when she brings her almanac. All within 44 words.

And we want to know how it will turn out for her.

So, in the spirit of Nell, I say forge ahead! Don’t let anyone stop you. Write your story in rhyme. Make you character memorable and dimensional. Answer all of the W questions in the first few paragraphs.

If someone tells you it is a hard sell to write a certain type of book. Maybe it’s because they haven't seen your book yet! 


by Jodie Parachini 

art by Richard Smythe

Example: The Enjambment

Gi sele/ the gir affe/ was hun/gry for leaves, -/--/-/--/

but the juic/iest leaves/ were at/ the top/ of the trees. --/--/-/-/--/

She stretched/ out her neck/, but as hard/ as she tried, -/--/--/--/

her tong/ue couldn’t reach/, so she plopped/ down and cried. -/--/--/--/


Enjambment carries an idea or thought over to the next line without a grammatical pause. The absence of punctuation allows for enjambment, and requires the reader to read through a poem’s line break without pausing in order to understand the conclusion of the thought or idea.

Enjambment in poetry creates a rhythm or pace for a poem that is different from end-stopping.

  • Did you notice the enjambment in the first stanza?
  • When you read did you feel yourself increasing in speed?
  • Did you find yourself emphasizing the second line with greater intensity?

When we see punctuation, we naturally want to stop, take a pause and breathe. Enjambment is a technique that can force the reader to move onto the next line without stopping. It creates a sense of quickness or even a frantic pace for a poem.