Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nursery Rhymes

And now we come to nursery rhymes.  This is probably where I should have started from the very beginning since rhymes are where the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to start reading aloud to your infants.  According to the professionals, rhymes help develop a young child's "ear for language," "stimulate brain development," and encourage "Phonological awareness" by identifying and connecting different sounds with written words.  In fact, leave out last words on a line while you read a rhyme and encourage your child to fill in the missing word.  Many rhymes are set to music, making it fun to sing the rhymes too.

My children repeat their favorite rhymes throughout the week:
~ One misty, moisty morning . . .
~ Sing a song of sixpence . . .
~ Three little kittens . . .
~ Wee Willie Winkie . . .
~ Blow wind blow! And go mill go! . . .
~ Good night! Sleep tight . . .
~ Baa, baa, black sheep . . .
~ Diddle, diddle dumpling, my son John . . .
Which lines can you complete?

"One misty, moisty morning" is especially applicable for today's weather; it also remains one of my children's favorites.  There are different versions of it, but here's our favorite:
One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man,
Dressed all in leather.
He began to compliment,
And I began to grin
How do you do?  And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

And then there's "Diddle, diddle dumpling, my son John."  You know, he's the one who went to bed with "one shoe off and one shoe on."  I attribute this rhyme to my daughter's (who at the time was only three) unwavering resolve to put only one sock on each day, no matter where we were going.  I insisted that she had to at least wear both shoes.  It was late fall and winter, and I had stake in my image as her caring mother after all!  Otherwise, I allowed the quirky behavior.  And did we receive some memorable comments and stares!  But, oh the laughs we indulged!

Needless to say, I strongly recommend owning a collection of nursery rhymes!  I'm the nerd who likes to collect different volumes.  So here are my top recommendations:

1st prize: Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (not to be confused with his much smaller Mother Goose).  The kids adore this version.  We ALL pull it out several times weekly!

1st runners up, coming in oh so closely behind: Tomie dePaola's My First Mother Goose or his board book Tomie's Little Mother Goose and Scott Gustafson's Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose.  Once again, Gustafson "Wows!" us with his beautiful illustrations.

Honorable mentions: I hold a special place in my heart for the iconic black and white checkerboard covered The Real Mother Goose, which was my very first childhood volume.  It's arguably the most recognized volume.  For some reason, my children didn't attach themselves to this one as readily.  My eldest wanted illustrations for each rhyme.  However, I would recommend this most thorough collection illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright in 1916.  The publishers have also issued friendlier versions for young children in board books and "touch and feel" books and cards.  You can't go wrong with this classic.

For you Beatrix Potter book lovers out there, I would strongly recommend her charmingly illustrated and original Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes and Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes.  These sweet little volumes make excellent gifts.

Also, for you researchers, Michael Montgomery does an excellent, and humorous, job of exploring the stories behind nursery rhymes in his book Over the Candlestick: Classic Nursery Rhymes and the Real Stories Behind Them.

In conclusion, there are many amazing artists with very good illustrated editions of nursery rhymes out there.  I encourage you to find your favorite and read them enough to laugh over your own kids quirky ways of applying rhyme to their everyday lives.

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