Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Rhyming 101: Writing Successful Rhymes with Darren Sardelli Notes 10/2/22

Darren Sardelli presented on the art of writing in rhyme for children. He provided tips and tricks that help make poems stand out.

Forced Rhymes

  • * A forced rhyme is when a poet says something in an unusual way just so something rhymes with the other word in the stanza. A forced rhyme sounds awkward and is not natural speech.
  • * Use natural rhyme (words that would be spoken in natural conversation) and give the reader a clear image of what the character is experiencing.
  • * Don’t rush a rhyme. It has taken him from 2-4 hours to get a stanza right. He has also written a poem 50-60 times before it was completed.
  • * Using similar sounding words like ”cheese” and “fleece” is not quite rhyming. Only use words that truly rhyme.


  • * Many writers create a rhythm in their head, but the rhythm may be all over the place when a reader reads it. The words should flow and sound natural. Focus on rhythm, provide strong visuals, and pack as much information as possible in a short amount of time.
  • * Once a poet establishes a rhythm, the poet should continue that rhythm throughout the poem.
  • * Most agents and editors shy away from rhyming poetry because most people don’t know how to write poems correctly. Agents and editors don’t want to deal with it.
  • * The best way to master rhyme is to study other rhyming poets who write really well, such as Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Shel Silverstein, Nikki Grimes, Kenn Nesbitt, Eric Ode, Dave Crawley, Allan Wolf, April Halprin Wayland, Neal Levin, Mary Ann Hoberman, Charles Ghigna, and B.J. Lee.

Q&A Summary

  • * Always keep moving forward, and don’t give up. Put yourself in front of people, attend events, and reach out to the people in charge of events or putting together anthologies. If you have a website, use it to showcase samples of your poems.
  • * To really understand writing rhyming poetry for children, writers need to study meter/rhythm and practice until it clicks.
  • * Darren has never had an agent. He has been published in 25 children’s books in the US/UK, mostly in anthologies. He started his own publishing company where he has self-published two collections. Darren has licensed his poems but always keeps the rights to them.
  • * Darren highlighted publishers that accept poetry submissions: Charlesbridge, Holiday House (no agent required), Lee and Low Books, and WordSong (publishes Highlights magazine).
  • * For resources, Darren suggested,, and