Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle, was one of my Kindergarten students' favourite books. It was simple, it was effective, it worked. We used it as a model for class and individual stories, tapped out its rhythm on our desks, and read it for pleasure many times.
Dr Seuss books, Mem Fox's Time for Bed and several collections of rhymes and poetry enthused my students, and encouraged them to read along. After a while, they began to predict the rhyming word, and join in any refrains, too. Luckily, the kids hadn't read the advice to writers which tells them not to bother writing a rhyming picture book.
I believe good quality, short, rhyming picture books are necessary in children's lives as an intermediate step to reading. After listening to one being read aloud several times, children unconsciously memorize it. They inevitably pick up the book and "read' it aloud from memory. They begin to notice the words on a page and relate them to what they are saying. This process is made possible because we humans are wired to remember rhyme, and have a huge capacity for it.
My students loved rhyme. They begged me to read their favourite poems, and our shared and guided reading books were often in rhyme. Whenever the opportunity arose, I celebrated the joy of language by pointing out examples of delightful humour, or words with similar sounds or shapes. I wrote many plays for performance in rhyme. After several practices, each student usually knew the whole play by heart, and could take on any role with confidence.
And what a boon that was, when chicken pox decimated the class!