Product Review: The Original Mother Goose

Before starting to read this book
Before starting to read this book

The Original Mother Goose, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright, is a collection of nursery rhymes that has been sitting on our daughter’s bookshelf since before she was born. It’s a big, heavy, hardbound thing with pages pretty enough to make you worry about them getting ripped apart whenever your youngster starts flipping through it.

But once you get over that (completely justified) fear, books filled with nursery rhymes like this one are good to have around your house. And here’s the big reason why:

Rhyming leads to reading

Nursery rhymes are great for boosting young children’s literacy skills. In fact, research shows that children who know more nursery rhymes at age three are better readers at age six.

Part of the reason for this could be that kids who know more nursery rhymes are probably more often read to and interacted with in educational ways. But beyond that, the fact that nursery rhymes rhyme helps your kid a lot too. An important prerequisite to learning how to read is developing phonological awareness, or an understanding of the sounds of language. Rhyming helps children tune into these sounds, because recognizing that two words rhyme requires the realization that the ending sounds of the words are the same.

The more practice that kids get with rhyming – via books, stories, rhyming word play, nursery rhymes, gangsta’ rap albums, whatever – the better developed their literacy skills become. Frequently hearing the same rhymes, like when you read and re-read beloved nursery rhymes to your kids, can help them build phonological skills, because it enables children to memorize and analyze the rhymes more thoroughly.

So that’s why reading nursery rhymes to your kid is a good idea. But to be perfectly honest, you may not want to read them this particular collection of nursery rhymes. Here’s why:

It’s freaking crazy

After starting to read this book
After starting to read this book

The Original Mother Goose has some of the regular nursery rhymes we all remember from childhood, like Jack jumping over the candlestick and Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall. But lots of the other rhymes you’ll find in here are just effing nutso. Here’s one example:

A COUNTING-OUT RHYME
Hickery, dickery, 6 and 7
Alabone, Crackabone, 10 and 11,
Spin, spun, muskidun,
Twiddle ‘em, twaddle ‘em, 21.

And one more for good measure:

LITTLE PUSSY
I like little Pussy,
Her coat is so warm,
And if I don’t hurt her
She’ll do me no harm;
So I’ll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away,
But Pussy and I
Very gently will play.

Sexual innuendo, recreational drug use, and boatloads of incomprehensible Old English words like pease, barm, groat and codlins are the rule here, not the exception.

And shouldn’t your kids have to wait until they start watching the ABC Family channel to experience all of that stuff anyway?


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