Short Rhyming Poems For Children

On this page you'll find a selection of gorgeous short rhyming poems for children.

Many of them are the traditional nursery rhymes you probably remember from your own childhood. Others may be new to you.

short rhyming poems, a childs garden of verse

Most of them are poems my mother read to my sisters and I when we were young and then I in turn also read them to my three children.

And to my great delight, my three little ones loved them too!

You may be wondering why we should bother sharing these sorts of rhymes with our tech-savvy children today.

After all, nursery songs and rhymes are a bit old-fashioned, aren't they?

I thought the same thing until I started doing some research. 

Why Does Poetry Matter?

We now know that reading to children is really important for their development but did you know that poems and nursery rhymes are especially important?

In fact, teachers, speech-language therapists and other experts now say it's vital for babies and young children to hear the kind of language used in poems and rhymes.

That's because the sometimes-unusual words and speech patterns found in poems written for children help enrich your child's vocabulary. 

The rhythm, repetition and rhyme also help develop the phonological awareness skills she'll need to learn to read easily later on. 

Sharing Short Rhyming Poems with Kids

If you'd like to start reading poems and rhymes with your child, the short rhyming poems for kids on this page are a great place to begin.

You might also like to get hold of a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's brilliant book of poems for children A Child's Garden of Verses. 

The short rhyming poems in this book are lovely to read to babies and young children and there are quite a few collections to choose from, including a board book and an audio-book. You can see some of them on the right.

If your kids are older, have some fun together reading limericks and nonsense rhymes. 

The American poet Ogden Nash wrote lots of very funny nonsense rhymes, some of which I've included here. 

I hope you and your little one enjoy these short rhyming poems! 

Short Rhyming Poems

Happy Thoughts

The world is so full 
of a number of things, 
I'm sure we should all 
be as happy as kings. 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson

Thirty Days Hath September

Thirty days hath September, 
April, June and November. 
All the rest have thirty-one, 
Except February alone, 
Which has but 28 days clear, 
And 29 in each leap year. 

Two Little Dicky Birds

Two little dicky birds 
Sat on a wall, 
One called Peter, 
One called Paul. 
Fly away, Peter, 
Fly away, Paul! 
Come back, Peter, 
Come back, Paul. 

Time to Rise

A birdie with a yellow bill 
Hopped upon the window-sill. 
Cocked his shining eye and said: 
"Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy-head?" 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson

Jack Sprat

Jack Sprat would eat no fat, 
His wife would eat no lean. 
And so between the two of them 
They licked the platter clean. 

Peas and Honey

I eat my peas with honey, 
I've done it all my life. 
It makes the peas taste funny, 
But it keeps them on my knife. 

At the Seaside

When I was down beside the sea 
A wooden spade they gave to me 
To dig the sandy shore. 
My holes were empty like a cup, 
In every hole the sea came up, 
Till it could come no more. 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson 

Goldy Locks

Goldy Locks, goldy locks, 
Wilt thou be mine? 
Thou shalt not wash dishes, 
Nor yet feed the swine; 

But sit on a cushion, 
And sew a fine seam, 
And feed upon strawberries, 
Sugar and cream. 


The rain is raining all around, 
It falls on field and tree, 
It rains on the umbrellas here, 
And on the ships at sea. 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson 

A Thought

It is very nice to think 
The world is full of meat and drink, 
With little children saying grace 
In every Christian kind of place. 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson 

Halfway Down

Halfway down the stairs 
is a stair where I sit. 
There isn't any other stair 
quite like it. 
I'm not at the bottom, 
I'm not at the top; 
So this is the stair 
where I always stop. 

Halfway up the stairs 
Isn't up and isn't down. 
It isn't in the nursery, 
It isn't in town. 
And all sorts of funny thoughts 
Run 'round my head. 
It isn't really anywhere! 
It's somewhere else instead! 

~ from When We Were Very Young by A A Milne

Jack Be Nimble

Jack be nimble, 
Jack be quick, 
Jack jump over the candlestick.

Looking Forward

When I am grown to man's estate 
I shall be very proud and great, 
And tell the other girls and boys 
Not to meddle with my toys. 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson

As I Was Going to St Ives

As I was going to St Ives I met a man with seven wives. 
Each wife had seven sacks, each sack had seven cats, 
Each cat had seven kits: kits, cats, sacks and wives, 
How many were going to St Ives? 

Monday's Child

Monday's child is fair of face, 
Tuesday's child is full of grace, 
Wednesday's child is full of woe, 
Thursday's child has far to go, 
Friday's child is loving and giving, 
Saturday's child works hard for his living. 
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day 

Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay. 

There Was A Little Girl

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl 
Right in the middle of her forehead; 
When she was good she was very, very good, 
But when she was bad she was horrid. 

The Wise Old Owl

There was an old owl who lived in an oak; 

The more he heard, the less he spoke. 
The less he spoke, the more he heard, 
Why aren't we like that wise old bird? 

There Was A Crooked Man

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile, 
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile; 
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse, 
And they all lived together in a little crooked house. 

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town, 
Up stairs and down stairs, in his night-gown, 
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock: 
'Are the children in their beds, for it's past eight o'clock.' 

Doctor Foster

Doctor Foster went to Glo'ster, 
In a shower of rain; 
He stepped in a puddle right up to his middle, 
And never went there again. 

Whole Duty of Children

A child should always say what's true 
And speak when he is spoken to, 
And behave mannerly at table; 
At least as far as he is able. 

~ by Robert Louis Stevenson 

Ladybird, Ladybird

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home, 
Your house is on fire, your children all gone, 
All but one, and her name is Ann, 
And she crept under the pudding pan. 

Peter Piper

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper, 
A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked; 
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper, 
Where's the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked? 

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, 
She had so many children she didn't know what to do; 
She gave them some broth without any bread, 
Kissed them all soundly and sent them to bed. 

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner, 
Eating a Christmas pie; 
He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, 
And said, 'What a good boy am I!' 

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Fast Poetry Facts

  • reading poems and nursery rhymes to young children helps them develop language and pre-reading skills

  • babies enjoy listening to any poems you read but A Child's Garden of Verses and When We Were Very Young are great books to start with

  • nursery rhymes are especially good if you do the actions and/or sing them

  • it's never too early to start - start on the day your baby is born if you can

Quick Links

Short Rhyming Poems

If you'd like to buy a book of poems to share with your child, here are a few to have a look at.

classic poems for children, short rhyming poems

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the orchard book of nursery rhymes, short rhyming poems

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a childs garden of verses, short rhyming poems, poetry for kids

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when we were very young, short rhyming poems, a a milne,

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my very first mother goose, short rhyming poems,

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now we are six, a a milne, short rhyming poems

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a family of poems, short rhyming poems

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mother goose remembers, short rhyming poems,

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the original mother goose

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