Do you know what onomatopoeia is? And how much FUN these words are to say out loud?
If you want examples of onomatopoeia, these picture books will give you more than enough examples to delight and entertain.
Sounds words like these engage kids and are fantastic to learn about and use in your own writing.
As you read these example books out loud, encourage kids to join you in making the sounds in the books.
You can also use these picture books as mentor texts to model for your elementary level students how to write using onomatopoeia. These books show your young writers the possibilities for incorporating the sense of sound into stories and poems.
Mentor Texts To Teach Onomatopoeia
Dig, Dump, Roll by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
A noisy world of construction that begs to be read aloud! Listen to the machine’s sounds then read the clue and try to guess what machine it is. “Bang-a-shudder! Clang-a-judder! What’s at work? Here’s a clue: // it will dig big holes for you. // Digger! Digger! // Coming through!” It’s a rhythmic delight for kids, especially those who love big machines.
I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!) by Rachel Isadora
This book, written in first-person, is a celebration of all the little girl’s senses. It’s filled with sounds (fridge hum, traffic), smells (brother’s smelly sneakers, Mommy’s perfumes), sights (words, the moon), tactile objects (sticky lollipop, slimy worm) and tastes (crackers, ice cream). Use this in the primary grades to introduce writing with all your senses, including the auditory sense.
Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Oge Mora
In this building, noisy kids and cats and parrots wake each other up–then slowly everyone falls back asleep. The noises give us a lovely atmospheric feel and we get a strong sense of relationships and community. “Back in their sleeping bags, Cairo, Benny, and MIles closed their eyes and listened to the shhh shhh, the plonk plonk, and the ting ting of the wind chime.” This is an onomatopoeia story that begs to be read aloud!
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis, illustrated by Paul Rogers
I adore Wynton Marsalis so when I saw this book I couldn’t wait to read it. I can tell you this is the perfect book to read aloud because it’s all about onomatopoeia — the sounds of everyday life and of instruments. “Our back door squeeeaks. / A nosy mouse eek-eek-eeeks! / It’s also how my sister’s saxophone sometimes spee . . . . eeaks.”
Who’s There? by Alain Crozon
Lift-the-flaps covering the egg, apple, wing, fin, or nesting doll and see what you can find. I love the colors, the illustrations, and the onomatopoeia on each page — buzz, buzz, chomp, chomp. The flaps appear sturdy enough to withstand lots of kid-tugging.
I’m Brave by Kate & Jim McMullan
Firefighter fans are going to love to read about the life of a brave (and good-looking) fire engine driving through smoke and heat to a blazing fire. Filled with lots of delightful sound effects: CLANG, HONK, WHOOSSSSSH and EEEEEEOWOOOO for young children. (Also on: Best Books for 2-Year-Olds.)
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Lina walks through the snow to her Grandma’s house. As she walks, she notices the sounds of snow. Her boots on the ground sound like “snyak, snyek, snyuk.” People sweeping snow off their cars make a “swish-wish, swish-wish.” She hears the snow with things like mittens, skis, snowballs, shovels, too. When she arrives at her Grandma’s they cook together, eat, and listen to the stillness of the snow. This story’s lovely illustrations combined with the sensory images in the text give readers an immersive experience of this snowy day.
Listen by Gaby Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
What if you listened to each sound asks a little girl? Listen with her through her day starting with the noisy street, then at school, into the rain and wind, and all the way until bedtime. Filled with the slap-slap-slap of shoes, the tippy-tap-tap of rain falling on your umbrella, and the rumble of belly. Whooshy of breath. This is a beautiful reminder to pay attention. “Listen past the crunch of gravel and the scrape of chalk.// Can you hear new words? Listen to each sound. Some pop, like quick and snappy, while others stretch, like looong and leisurely. Listen.” She implores you to listen, repeating it frequently throughout the book.
Animals Go Vroom! by Abi Cushman
Tricky and silly, this is a fun story with peek-throughs that give you a wrong clue about what will be on the next page. “Hiss! Goes the…” The peek through shows a snake. Will you guess SNAKE as the answer? Turn the page and see a snake driving a car with a flat and read “…CAR that gets a flat tire.” I predict that your kids will crack up at this read-aloud book!
Joy by Yasmeen Ismail, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
Rhythmic and rhyming, this is an exuberant celebration of kitten play filled with lots of onomatopoeia! “Zoom-zoom, zim-zam, clip-clop, hip-hop, what a trip–don’t stop!” shows the kitten pulling over a lamp. After a romp through the house, the kitten is kicked out by the dog, then found by his mama.
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Pak
“Have you heard the nesting bird?” ask the children about the robin on her nest. As they watch her, they hear the call of other birds — the “chiddik, chiddik” of the sparrow, the “ha-ha-chit-chit-chit” of the swallow, the “cheer-cheer-cheer-purdy-purdy-purdy” of the cardinal, and many others. But they don’t hear anything from robin until a tapping, cracking, hatching. Great use of rhythm and perfect ratio of words to pictures. Lovely.
R is for Robot: A Noisy Alphabet by Adam F. Watkins
Bright cartoon-like illustrations show expressive robots doing noisy things. “Ick, Jolt, Kapow, La La La, Meep.”
Cat Says Meow and other an*i*mal*o*poe*ia by Michael Arndt
How do I describe this unique typographic picture book of animal sounds and shapes? Prepare to be dazzled as you find the word in the animal image. Hear onomatopoeia and see animalopoeia! I LOVE this picture book.
Eek! A Noisy Journey from A to Z by Julie Larios, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
A dictionary of onomatopoeia words, follow the story of a mouse with allergies (achoo!), and the cast of animal characters who help him on his adventure to give a daisy to a special friend (yahoo, zzz).
The Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illustrated by Kate Harvey McGee
Big Wolf says Little Wolf is good at a lot of things but his howling technique isn’t right. Little Wolf’s style is quite unusual in fact — he beep-bops instead of aaaaoooos. Big Wolf listens. And then he joins in, accepting his son for who he is. A great message of acceptance plus wonderful examples of onomatopoeia.
Froodle by Antoinette Portis
Got to love Little Brown Bird. She’s sick of saying “peep” all year long. So she tries something new: “Froodle sproodle!” When the silliness spreads, soon all the birds are trying out new sounds. “Oobly snoobly” and “Dooblik” and ‘Wuppy” are just some of the new sounds the birds sing. Delightful.
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.”
Prickly Hedgehogs! by Jane McGuinness
The author does an incredible job at making this informational book read like a narrative story, which makes it more accessible for younger readers. Learn about hedgehogs, nocturnal animals, by following a mama hedgehog and her growing babies. I also love the use of onomatopoeia throughout the book and the incredible illustrations. Very well-done!
“He might be small but Little Hedgehog has a big appetite. Sometimes he walks a whole mile in one night…sniff-sniff-sniffing for things to eat.”
Noah’s Noisy Night by Maria Correa, illustrated by Sebastien Braun
Noah’s night gets interrupted by the noisy animals on the ark. The bears are scared of the dark so Noah gives them a hug and a nightlight. The crocodiles are arguing about the top bunk. Noah solves that by making a second makeshift top bunk. And that’s only the beginning — the penguins are too hot, the rhinos don’t like the noisy rain, and the giraffes are too excited to sleep. Can Mrs. Noah help everyone go to sleep? Maybe a story will help? Adorable & fun!
Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt
Show kids the beauty of words, oral reading, and imagery, as well as the playfulness in poetry with poems that are meant to be read by two people. The book is filled with so many examples of onomatopoeia like the noise of fish, geese, frogs, mockingbirds, snakes, bees, and other animals. I particularly adore the many sounds of elephants. So will you. Listen, “Snort, ruuuuummmble, roar, cry, bark,…”
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