Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Report 2018-19

Did you know?

  • Over 4,260 children and 3,500 adults took part in the Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge.
  • 300 Rhyme Packs were sent out to settings and libraries across the district.
  • “The Rhyme Challenge has brought a new love of rhyme to my child.  She now tries to rhyme anything and everything.  She is teaching the whole family” – Bradford Parent
  • “My child loves the library rhymetime” – Bradford Parent

What is the Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge?

The Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge takes place each year in libraries, voluntary settings and maintained/non-maintained childcare settings.  September – March.

The challenge is simple.

We ask settings/libraries to encourage parents to learn 5 rhymes with their child and receive a certificate to say they have completed the challenge.

Childcare settings, toddler groups and libraries all take on the challenge in different ways.  Some have a set programme to learn the rhymes over 5 weeks with a special celebration at the end, others have simply taken the challenge head on and asked parents and carers to learn the rhymes over a shorter period of time.  They then sing the rhymes together to receive the certificates.

It does not matter which way the challenge is carried out.  The aim is to ensure that parents, carers and children have fun! 

The rhymes this year included:

Twinkle Twinkle Library

Five Little Speckled Frogs

Jack In A Box

One Finger, One Thumb

Frere Jacques (French version)


Why Bradford Libraries oversee the challenge

The evidence is clear that great rhymers make great readers1 and as a library service with an aim to develop our early years audience the Rhyme Challenge helps in many ways to promote the services we provide and encourage children on their life long reading journey.

The challenge also aims to work towards improving the proportion of children achieving a Good Level of Development in Bradford. 

Outlined below is how the Rhyme Challenge links to the curriculum outcomes of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Rhyme Challenge Areas of Learning England – Early Years Foundation Stage   Communication & Language: Singing, listening and sharing rhymes.   Communication and Language Literacy: Learning rhyming sounds to aid future literacy. Literacy Maths: Counting rhymes Mathematics Being creative: Expressing ideas and sharing feelings through music, movement, role play and design technology.   Expressive Arts and Design Feeling good: Developing a positive sense of themselves, doing things which help build confidence.   Personal, Social and Emotional Development Finding out: Discovering and making sense of the world. Finding out about people and animals as well as different cultures and places.     Understanding the World Let’s move: Being active and interactive, developing co-ordination, control and movement. Physical Development    

The challenge also supports practitioners and library staff become more aware of the value of providing a language rich environment to promote the development of children’s communication and language skills.3

Best practice when completing the challenge sees libraries and settings working with families to learn all five rhymes and receive the certificate.  Research consistently highlights that families are the most important influence in a child’s early development and prevention and early intervention to support families is crucial for good health and social care outcomes by the age of 5.4

Finally, experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if a child knows 8 nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are 4 they are usually among the best readers by the time they are 8.5


1 The benefit of Rhymes – Research review from Booktrust

2Public Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (Bradford)

3Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Report 2016-17

(available on request)

4Marmot (2010) Fair Society, Healthy Lives –Strategic review health inequalities in England post-2010

5Mem Fox: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  Harcourt, 2001


Group Leader Feedback

“The Rhyme Challenge has given us a focus.”

100% of group leaders said that the Rhyme Challenge was beneficial to the families they work with.

Many of the groups involved provided feedback on how they had enhanced the challenge in their settings.  This took many forms including:

Props                                                                           Sent copies of rhymes home

Frog puppets                                                             Celebration event

Displays                                                                       Bookstart Bear visit

Joined in with senior citizen club                           Parents at Play session

New cosy book area                                                    French bistro

Accompanied on the piano                                        Dress up

French visitor taught rhymes                                    Messy play

Special assembly                                                          Used instruments

Made zigzag books                                                       Accompanied on guitar

Bubbles                                                                        Parachutes

Playdough                                                                    Ball pool

Sign language                                                               Imaginative play

96% of group leaders thought that parents/carers and children now joined in more with rhymes after the rhyme challenge.

89% of group leaders thought that the challenge had increased their knowledge of the value of providing a language rich environment to promote the development of children’s communication and language skills.

Individual Parental Feedback

As you can see from the chart below 97% of parents who responded said they sing rhymes more since the introduction of the new rhyme challenge.  97% of respondents also thought that the challenge had increased their awareness of the benefits of sharing rhymes with very young children.  94% of parents said that the challenge had increased their child’s speech and language skills.

Parents also told us that they feel more confident to sing rhymes with their children after taking the rhyme challenge (96% of respondents).

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Awards


Best practice awards for staff and practitioners. 

Criteria for judging panel can include:

An individual, group, centre, library or nursery that has:

  • introduced a new element into the challenge
  • worked to ensure library membership for the families taking part in the challenge
  • developed crafts to enhance the challenge
  • completed feedback forms
  • planned activities around the rhymes

This was not an exhaustive list and nominations could be made for a variety of reasons.

The nominees are:

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Individual Award

Maddie Coelho – Burley Library

Rachael Dennis – National Childbirth Trust

Rachel Parker – Senior Social Worker, Catholic Care

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Library Award

Baildon Library

Bingley Library

Burley Library

City Library

Clayton Hybrid Library

Eccleshill Library

Holme Wood Library

Idle Library

Ilkley Library

Keighley Library

Laisterdyke Library

Thornton Community Library

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Voluntary Sector Award

Bingley Baptist Toddlers

Dixons Marchbank Stay & Play

Keighley Catholic Care Centre

Little Ducklings Playgroup

National Childbirth Trust

St Andrews See and Know Toddler Group

St John’s Playgroup Baildon

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Stay & Play with Catholic Care

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Childcare Setting Award

Alison Mazacs – Childminder

Ashfield Day Nursery

Bramble Hedge Pre-School

Cottingley Pre-School

Karmand Community Centre Nursery

Lapage Primary Nursery

Lilycroft Nursery School

Long Lee Primary Nursery

Netherleigh & Rossefield Nursery School
Nightingales Day Nursery

Pied Piper Pre-School

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Nursery & Reception

St Matthews CE Primary Nursery

Sandal Primary Nursery

Summerfield Children’s Place Nursery & Amazing Grace Luncheon Club

Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge Best Practice Children’s Centre Award

South Bradford Children’s Centre Cluster

Winners and runners up will be announced at the Rhyme Challenge awards ceremony – 9 July 2019.


Case Studies

Case Study One: Primary School Stay & Play

We have really enjoyed the different activities set up around the rhymes.  Many of our children are very young when they join and it is amazing to see their progress as they develop an understanding of focus, sharing and listening.  They Rhyme Challenge has helped in the development of speech, learning numbers, colours, shapes, sizes, animal names and family.

One of our activities included using green and yellow playdough and showing the children how to make little playdough frogs to go on the log.  We followed up this activitiy by everyone singing the “five little frogs” rhyme.  We used the “one finger, one thumb keeps moving” to get the mums and toddlers up and active.  We made finger puppets as a table activity to introduce the rhyme.  We linked rhyme time to the “50 Things Bradford” which we also promote in school.

It was a wonderful surprise to have Bookstart Bear come and visit us earlier this year.  Followed by the story time sessions at Laisterdyke Library.  Thank you to Laisterdyke Library for having us and to the staff for making the story time sessions so fun.  Library sessions with their toddlers was a first time experience for most of our mums as they were not aware of how much was available for their children at their local library.  We got all of our children signed up and our school too.  This means we can now borrow picture books and set up a little library at the stay and play sessions.

Our school’s focus is on reading for children, for adults, for education and especially for fun.  We have succeeded in showing parents how you can switch off the TV, table or phone and sit with your child to enjoy a book together.  The interaction between a parent and child sharing an activity beats all digital experiences at this young age. 

Case Study Two: Community Library

An additional new rhymetime was launched at the library to coincide with the start of the Rhyme Challenge.

The Rhyme Challenge was delivered twice a week over the four week period at both the regular  session and at the new session on a Thursday.  The Tuesday session was an hour long and incorporated the Rhyme Challenge rhymes, a story and complimentary craft.  The new session was launched on Week 1 of the Rhyme Challenge.  This was due to the overwhelming (as many as 40 children per week) popularity of our Tuesday session.  It is a shorter session of 30 minutes and consists of rhymes only and is targeted at the under 2 age group.  Over the four weeks, a total of 119 children and 85 adults attended on a Tuesday and 47 children and 41 adults attended on a Thursday.  Both sessions now continue term time only.

We encourage all members of the family to join the library and have their own ticket.  We stress the fact that it’s best to take children’s books out on a child’s ticket to avoid late fines.  Parents/carers often express surprise that babies can join the library – even newborns!  The youngest new joiner we have ever had was about two weeks old.  We advertised the Rhyme Challenge on our website, Facebook page and on posters inside/outside the library.

Comment from parents “Love this group!”

Report compiled by Bradford Libraries Early Years Development June 2019