An Old Lady Living in a Shoe…

If you are like me, you can recall with fondness reading to your little one, whether he or she was tucked into bed or snuggled close on your lap. Reading was as important an activity for your child as it was for you. It was more about spending time together than the story being read. It was about being close and sharing adventures through the written word. It was also about developing good habits and establishing that reading is an important activity.

If you were like me, you didn’t read to your very young child for the purpose of intellectual stimulation. Rather you were demonstrating love and providing security.

But something has been troubling me about the importance of nursery rhymes. Recently I asked a group of 13 year olds three questions:

1)   What is a nursery?

2)   Who is Mother Goose?

3)   What is a nursery rhyme?

Unfortunately the responses were unanimous:

1)   Isn’t a nursery a place where the landscapers buys plants for our yard?

2)   Mother Goose… isn’t she AFFLACK the duck’s mother?

3)   What is a nursery rhyme?

Unless something has changed, I remember that my toddler loved the sounds and rhythm associated with the classic nursery rhymes.  They provided hours of entertainment, enjoyment and laughter. The lightheartedness and nonsensicalness of a nursery rhyme would cause my young child to look quizzically at me begging for more silliness. But I guess we can’t be silly anymore can we?

Toddlers have always been easily amused by cows jumping over the moon or an egg named Humpty Dumpty falling off a wall. Not introducing the very young to Mother Goose can rob them of a tremendous opportunity for creativity and growth.

In Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson’s book, “I Wish I Had a Computer That Makes Waffles…” traditional nursery rhymes are dismissed for their lack of sophistication siting that today’s toddlers are too bright for old ladies living in shoes! Perhaps, but not so fast.

While many of us have been raised in the me   me   me generation, today’s kids are growing up in the age of i   i   i; iPhones, iPods, aye aye aye. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe we will see parents reading to their young children from kindles any time too soon, but as parents, grandparents and educators it is our responsibility to expose these little ones to outside of the box concepts, make-believe and kid stuff!

Perhaps no solid evidence exists  to support this premise, but there just may be some subliminal truth to the statement that listening to, memorizing or even inventing your own nursery rhymes can lead to a love of and appreciation for poetry.


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