Picture books with predictable, repetitive text develop language and literacy skills in all ages of growing readers from birth on up.
Read these to your toddlers and preschoolers.
Read these with your kindergartners.
Read these with your growing readers of any age, particularly readers who need the support that predictability and repetition provides.
Bottom line — use these with any child who is learning to read as these books are invaluable to growing readers.
Here’s why. Predictable, repetitive text structures…
- develop confidence!
The repetition gets memorized and kids can “read” the repeated phrases and refrains. This grows their identity as a reader as well as familiarizes them with these words. (No, they’re not reading, they’re recalling what they’ve memorized. That’s OK!)
- help decoding
- improve fluency
- improve comprehension
There’s plenty of research that shows that predictable storylines also develop children as readers, too. Read: How Predictable Book Series Benefit Beginning Readers.
18 Picture Books With Predictable, Repetitive Text
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle
This book is a classic for a reason — it’s repetitive structure is perfect, engaging, and educational. “________ what do you see?” repeats throughout the book. The with plenty of picture support, read on, “I see a ______ looking at me.” Insert brown bear, red bird, yellow duck, blue horse, and more. This teaches animals, colors, and predictability.
I Went Walking by Sue Williams, illustrated by Julie Vivas
Reminiscent of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, this book follows a little boy on a walk. What does he see? A brown horse, a black cat, a red cow, and more. “I went walking” repeats followed by “I saw a _____ (insert animal) Looking at me” which also repeats with the minimal change of animal and their color. Simple and fanciful!
Silly Sally by Audrey Woods
You guys, I still have this book memorized years after my kids grew out of it! And I don’t even mind — it’s a gem of a picture book story! You’ll love the repetition of the sentence: “Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards, upside down.” Then the story continues with repetition and additions, “On the way she met _____” with who Sally meets as she travels to town. Lyrical rhymes plus a wonderfully silly story mean you’ll read this a million times or more!
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
We love this book SO MUCH about a grumpy fish who spreads gloominess everywhere he goes. And he knows he can’t change. Until one day, things do change. What happens to change his life? I’ll let you read it to find out…
“I’m a pout-pout fish
With a pout-pout face,
So I spread the dreary-wearies
All over the place.“
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet, begins this cute story. “So they sent me a _______.” Lift the flap to see the animal. Then read, “He was too ______. I sent him back,” inserting animal after animal in the blanks. Eventually, the zoo finally sends the perfect animal — a doggie. Hooray!
Go Sleep In Your Own Bed! by Candace Fleming and Lori Nichols
Kids will love this funny story. Here’s why — it’s got hilarity, yes, but also the repetition of text and drama. Each animal goes to bed and finds another animal sleeping in the wrong bed. “Go sleep in your own bed!” the pig orders the cow, the cow orders the chicken, the chicken tells the horse, well, you get the picture. What will happen with the kitten? She gets to stay and cuddle in the little girl’s bed.
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, created by James Dean
Engaging, colorful illustrations from James Dean plus a sing-songy tale created by Eric Litwin filled with great repetition and counting make this an excellent picture book story. And it will support beginning readers with plenty of repetitive text.
Poor Pete keeps losing his buttons. Pop goes a button. Did Pete cry? Goodness, no! Buttons come and buttons go. He kept on singing his song: “My buttons, my buttons, my three groovy buttons. My buttons, my buttons, my three groovy buttons. The ending is just about as fabulous as you can get in a picture book! We LOVE it.
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Julia Cairns
Gentle rhymes, some repetitive text (LOVE), and plenty of gorgeous safari vistas make you feel as though you’re along with this Maasai family as they spot (and count) wildebeests, lions, warthogs, and more animals on their safari. Absolutely lovely.
The Napping House by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
One of the most beloved picture books EVER, certainly by my family if not the world, The Napping House is a gentle, rhythmic story about the inhabitants in a sleepy house slowly falling into slumber– then, waking back up again.
“There is a house,
a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.”
As the snoring granny, dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, and a slumbering mouse settle in for sleep, they’re unexpectedly awakened in a surprising chain reaction of events. Muted blue-toned illustrations enhance this book’s perfectly sleepy ambiance.
William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
This is a sharable, cozy story about a little boy named William who is tucked up snuggly in bed. As different forest animals arrive at his windows or door looking for shelter, he welcomes each of them. With comforting repetitive text, “Yes, I’ll scooch a bit,” William agrees to scooch a bit so each animal can fit. Choose this picture book for reading together and snuggling in tight.
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
When a snake eats him, the boy (from inside the snake’s tummy) encourages the snake to eat more — which he does. From grapes to bears, to a cat, to a beehive, . . . the list goes on (think Old Lady Swallowing a Fly) until just a small fly makes the snake burp everything all out. Good thinking on the boy’s part, eh!? The diversity in the main character and setting plus the use of repetition make this one of my all-time favorite books.
Dalmatian in a Digger by Rebecca Elliott
Filled with sound alliterations and repetition, this is a delightful book for kids who love vehicles. “Dugger, dugger, digger.” Bear in a Bulldozer. Camel in a Crane. Dalmatian in a Digger!
Mary Wore Her Red Dress and Henry Wore His Green Sneakers adapted and illustrated by Merle Peek
Based on the song of the same title, sing about the creatures who go to Katy’s birthday party — and what they wear. Mary where her red dress. Henry wore his green sneakers. Katy wore her yellow sweater. The color and clothing repeat. (Green sneakers, green sneakers, green sneakers.)
Tough Boris by Mem Fox, illustrated by Kathryn Brown
Not only is this a tough pirate, but as a little boy finds out he’s also not so tough, too. Which is okay. He has feelings and grief. “He was _____. All pirates are _____.” Minimal, predictable text with detailed illustrations.
Old MacDonald’s Things That Go by Jane Clarke, illustrated by Migy Blanco
I know so many little boys who just love anything to do with trucks. Which is why I think this vehicle book will appeal to them — maybe not as much to the parent reading it because there are a trillion verses but . . . we do what we must, right? In this Old MacDonald version, it’s about a farmer who, you guessed it, loved things that go. “And on that farm, he had a truck. He loved things that go! With a vroom-vroom here and a vroom-vroom there. Here a vroom, there a vroom, everywhere a vroom-vroom.“
A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer and Anne Wilsdorf
Rhythmic, repetitive, delicious words with alliteration and onomatopoeia make this an excellent book to read aloud to your children. Toad’s having quite a busy day; a day where he encounters many other creatures. He begins as he ends, on a twig in the middle of the puddle… Highly recommended.
“In the middle of a puddle
in the middle of a road
on a teeter-totter twig
sat a teeny-tiny toad //
Snap! went the twig //Up! went the toad.”
Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
My kids loved this book so much — and repeated readings were no problem because so did I. The parents implore their spunky young child to please behave, PLEASE. Great use of repetition — “Please, baby, please”!
A Bear Sat on My Porch Today by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Rilla Alexander
What a delightfully silly story! Kids will enthusiastically follow this rhythmic, cumulative story about the many creatures that invite themselves to the little girl’s porch– and won’t leave. Exuberant yellows, blues, and oranges capture the craziness that is happening on the porch. This is sure to be a new favorite! LOVE!!
Fussy Flamingo by Shelley Vaughan James, illustrated by Matthew Rivera
A charming, silly story about a picky eater that teaches kids about flamingos coloring. Lola doesn’t want to eat the soggy, yucky, muddy shrimp so she finds an avocado that turns her feathers green, then pepino melons which turns her yellow, and finally, dragon fruit which turns her feathers purple. “Ay de mi?”” Mami cries each time Lola’s feathers turn a not-pink color. Finally, her mami convinces Lola to give shrimp a try– and Lola turns pink! Just like she’s supposed to. I love the story’s repetitive text: “Lola lolls along the shoreline. Lola dillies on her right leg. Lola dallies on her left leg. She dips her black-tipped beak into the water.” Back matter gives readers fast facts about flamingos including when they turn pink, what they eat, where they live. All in all, a wonderful story for the readers on your lap.
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