Slant Rhymes

slant rhyme
© Thomas Shahan, Flickr Creative Commons (“White Collar” c. 1940, Linocuts by Giacomo G. Patri)

What are slant rhymes? Oh, you know them. They’re the ear worm of every pop tune on the radio.

Case in point, Taylor Swift:

‘Cause baby now we got bad blood.
You know it used to be mad love.

So take a look at what you’ve done.
‘Cause baby now we got bad blood.

Notice anything about these rhymes… Perhaps that they don’t actually rhyme?

They’re slant rhymes, half rhymes, B-rhymes, or (if you’re going to get really nasty about it) lazy rhymes.

Pop songs aren’t the only culprits either. You see slant rhymes in plenty of kids’ picture books. That’s why most publishers have foregone picture books that rhyme altogether.

And that’s a shame really. Because when rhymes are done well, they’re instrumental in laying the foundation for reading readiness, by building vocabulary and developing sound discrimination.

According to Rhyming and Literacy Development in Children:

Oral language and phonological sensitivity (sound discrimination) are not the only skills that are developed when children are exposed to songs, chants, and rhyme.  They can also develop listening and thinking skills. Oral language (vocabulary), phonological sensitivity, and comprehension (thinking skills) are the building blocks of literacy. With conscious effort… rhymes become a perfect springboard for developing all three of these critical skill areas.

When I set out to write kids’ books, I naturally gravitated toward rhyming. Rhyming is in my blood. I adore poetry, and some of my favorite stories (as a child and adult) rhyme.

That said, I knew I would NOT rhyme a book if it wasn’t the right fit or I didn’t have a rhyme that could properly tell the story. As a matter of fact, there’s a book in my to-be-written queue that’s patiently waiting to be classified as rhyming or not.

The Denim Jungle always lent itself to rhyme. Like any first draft, it didn’t have the right rhymes off the bat, but it always pointed me in that direction.

Until the last stanza.

I loved it… and it had a slant rhyme. I struggled with it for weeks, months, nearly holding up my whole time table. Yes, one stanza has the power to do that. If you’re serious about your words. And I’m serious about my words.

No offense, Taylor, but slant rhymes just weren’t going to cut it for me.

I’m happy to report that I’ve finally FINALLY worked out a solution that I find on par with the story, the ending, and the quality of rhyme that I believe kids deserve to hear (for their development) and parents deserve to read (for their sanity in a slant-rhyme-saturated world).

In other words, full steam ahead with the fun stuff… illustrations!

P.S. I apologize for making you aware of slant rhymes if you weren’t before. They’re like a zombie virus, I’m afraid. I hope you won’t be too haunted.


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