Alliteration – Figurative Language

Figurative language is when words are used to mean something beyond the literal meaning of the actual words.  Authors write with figurative language often to make their writing more vivid and descriptive.  Because the words are being used in an often unusual way, it can be tricky for children to understand the word picture being painted by the author.


One interesting form of figurative language is alliteration.  Alliteration is the repetition of beginning sounds in words.  Tongue twisters are the most common example of alliteration.  “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” is fun to say not because any of the words are particularly fun, but because they all start with the letter “p.”

Alliteration in Books

My favorite read-aloud book is Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss.  One of the features that makes this book fun his use of alliteration.  It’s fun to see how fast you can read each page out loud without making mistakes.  In She Sells Seashells and Other Tricky Tongue Twisters, Nancy Loewen has used common and new tongue twisters to put together an unusual story.  Your children will love trying to read these clever sentences out loud.

Additional Alliteration Activities

After talking about alliteration and noticing it in books, your child may enjoy writing some alliteration of their own.  Children especially like making up tongue twisters and trying to get other people to say them.  Writing a tongue twister is not as hard as it sounds.

  • Choose a letter to start most of the words with.
  • Brainstorm a list of words that start with that letter.  Try to include nouns, verbs, and adjectives in your list.
  • Rearrange your list of words into a fun sentence.  Remember most of your words should start with your chosen letter, but you may have to add small words to make the sentence clear like “is”, “are”, or “and”.
  • Read your tricky tongue twister out loud as fast as you can!

Alliteration is a fun way to spice up writing.  Encourage your children to listen for repeated beginning sounds when they are reading.  Keep an eye out for the next post on figurative language, where we will discuss the difference between Similes and Metaphors.

How do you explain alliteration to your children?

Elementary Reading Curriculum at Smart Tutor