Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Nursery Rhymes Book Guest Post

The first documented mention of nursery rhymes can be found in plays around the 17th to 18th century. Even before this, most human culture had created their own lyrical forms of rhymes versed through songs, to stimulate the mind and nurture one’s offspring.

Still loved today and greatly revered, nursery rhymes are a light-hearted link to the past, where nostalgia of childhood innocence can be rekindled with every passing rhyme. Some editions, like the personalised nursery rhyme book have been rejuvenated with a personalised twist, giving children a personal keepsake of their youth.

The earliest nursery rhymes we know of date back to the 14th century, during the Medieval era. The topic of taxes, religious persecution, plagues and disease were the mindless tunes churned out, as the lyrics mostly reflected one’s environment and society.

Though these topics are not the wholesome, fanciful rhymes that nursery rhymes of today present, the songs still perpetuate, and are passed down from parents to children, sung throughout schools and written in storybooks. Many songs also have much darker origins. 

The origins of popular rhymes - like stories from The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen - are rooted in ‘folklore’. In short, the term sufficiently describes the nature of nursery rhymes and fairy tales based upon “stories of a community” that are passed between generations by word of mouth.

The most notable and popular rhymes still sung today emerged around the 17th and 18th century. This is known as the ‘golden era’ of rhymes, with the first English collections, Tommy Thumb's Song Book and a sequel, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, published before 1744. 

It was Thomas Carnan, the stepson of John Newberry - the publisher of the collections - who first used the term “Mother Goose” for nursery rhymes. The terms are often interchangeable, both with the same goal of comforting and lulling children, hence the term “lullaby”. 

However, there has always been a concern over the subject matter of nursery rhymes since their emergence. Many nursery rhymes gained notoriety predominantly as a form of societal resistance and mockery of the higher classes by caricaturing royalty, politicians and corruption. 

In these Medieval times, if the poor and often victims of said tyranny spoke out against corrupt high officials, the offence was punishable by death and so, a watered down form of ridicule to gently expose injustices presented itself as children’s entertainment: nursery rhymes, hence the dark subject matter of many popular rhymes.

In opposition to the dark undertones of children’s rhymes, the British Society for Nursery Rhyme Reform was founded in the Victorian period. They condemned the some of the most popular nursery rhymes like Humpty Dumpty and Lucy Locket, and vowed to clean up the cannon. 

Despite the darker origins behind nursery rhymes, the proven evolutionary benefits are evident. Nursery rhymes are essential to aid a child’s brain development, their basic skills in infancy and help nurture the parent-child bond. These are among the huge advantages of reading and repeating beloved nursery rhymes.


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