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Lady Lullaby Blog

Lullabies for babies, grown-ups and everyone in between!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hunting for Mother Goose

Old Mother Goose when she wanted to wander
Would ride through the air on a very fine gander.
Jack’s mother came in and caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back flew up to the moon.

Mother Goose was hatched in France in the early 17th century, with the first book with that name appearing in 1695.  At that point it was more like fairy tales than poems, but soon a book of nursery rhymes called Mother Goose’s Melody was published in England. Ever since then Mother Goose has been associated with children’s literature.

But where has Mother Goose flown to? A study conducted by Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts found that kindergartners barely recognize the classic collection of rhymes. It’s just not being used in schools or home the way it was in past years.

Why do these old-fashioned poems matter, anyway?  According to Gari Stein, author of “The More We Get Together: Nurturing Relationships Through Music, Play, Books, and Art, ”and the Bridgewater researcher Mary E. Shorey, it does matter. For centuries now Mother Goose has been a first introduction to literature, poetry, rhyme, vocabulary, humor, and nonsense---and a literary heritage that Shorey says “links generations together.” She also found that “one of the best indicators of how well children will learn to read is their ability to recite nursery rhymes when they walk in the kindergarten!”

So what are kids learning at home instead of Mother Goose? You guessed it: songs from the big children’s TV shows. Now, I like Dora and Diego as much as anyone---I’m learning Spanish from them, and enjoy all sorts of new adventures.  The songs may be catchy--but will they survive four hundred years from now, as Humpty Dumpty has done despite his problem with balance?

So dig up your Mother Goose book from your childhood, get a copy from the library, look online for the individual poems, and enjoy sharing it with your own children. There is long-standing proof that they’ll love it.

Sweet Dreams,

p.s. If we need to accept technology, though, the Mother Goose Club does a great job of making these poems fun enough to compete with Dora:  Here’s a new version of Little Miss Muffet: