Happy Mother Goose Day! Mother Goose Day (May 1) was declared in 1987 by Gloria T. Delamar. It's a day to celebrate the classic Mother Goose rhymes, and also a great way to learn about nursery rhymes popular around the world! Nursery rhymes are pretty much universal; they teach babies and young children rhythm, rhyme, and sometimes riddles. If your knowledge of Mother Goose rhymes is rusty, we have a fine collection of nursery rhymes that will jog your memory; if you are from a culture that is not familiar with the English rhymes, these books will introduce the most famous and fun ones:
Iona and Peter Opie were giants and early pioneers in the academic study of children's folklore, games, and rhymes. While their Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes is more of interest to those studying nursery rhymes, Here Comes Mother Goose is a sweet volume of the classic rhymes (with some lesser-known ones thrown in for variety), winsomely illustrated by Rosemary Wells.
The Neighborhood Mother Goose is my #1 favorite Mother Goose treasury by far; it's a fabulous baby gift (the first nursery rhyme treasury I gave to my niece when she was an infant). What makes this unique is that the nursery rhymes are brought to life through adorable photographs of children from many ethnicities "acting out" the rhymes. Babies and young children are drawn to photographs of other children, which makes this one of the most appealing nursery rhyme treasuries out there. The companion volume, The Neighborhood Sing Along, features classic children's songs.
Mother Goose doesn't have to stop at the preschool stage! You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together (part of the very fun You Read to Me...series) presents Mother Goose rhymes in an easy-to-read format for beginner readers.
Want to expand your horizons? Check out these collections of nursery rhymes from many cultures. These are not translated versions of Mother Goose rhymes, but are collections of rhymes unique to particular cultures:
Los Pollitos Dicen: juegos, rimas y canciones infantiles de paises de habla hispano/The Baby Chicks Sing: Traditional Games, Nursery Rhymes, and Songs From Spanish Speaking Countries is a charming bilingual collection of nursery rhymes popular in Spanish speaking countries. Music notation is included for the first stanza, which helps to understand the rhythm; instructions for games are included. Pio Peep and Tortillitas Para Mama are also excellent collections of Spanish nursery rhymes; Pio Peep includes a CD of selected songs/rhymes, and Tortillitas Para Mama includes instructions for the fingerplays.
Skip Across the Ocean: Nursery Rhymes From Around the World collects many nursery rhymes from countries such as Poland, Japan, Nigeria, and Canada (from First Nation communities), as well as Native American nursery rhymes. Brief notes about the popularity/origin of rhymes are included when available, as are instructions for fingerplays.
Songs From the Garden of Eden: Jewish Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes is a small gem of a nursery rhyme collection; Yiddish, Hebrew, Sephardic, and Arabic lullabies and rhymes are beautifully illustrated, with intriguing notes on cultural traditions of each song included at the end of the book. Not only that--a CD is included!
You probably know that many nursery rhymes have historical and/or political references hidden in them; if you've ever wanted to know the real story behind "Humpty Dumpty" or "Baa Baa Black Sheep," Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme is for you. Not academic at all; this is a quick and entertaining read.
Looking for more collections of traditional Mother Goose rhymes? Check out our J 398.8 section.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library