Rethinking Mother Goose


In planning Storybook Workshop curriculums over the years, I’ve been led on a quest to remember my own simple joys from childhood. In doing so, I’ve tried to enhance them, modernize them a bit and make sure they have a prominent place in your child’s experiences in class.


Case in point, I loved rhymes as a child, it’s one reason we use a lot of old-fashioned songs, rhymes and chants in our classes. Since they are very important elements in early literacy development, I consider them more than just a childhood pleasure.


Did you know listening, speaking and singing/rhyming play an essential role in a child’s early literacy skills? They are the foundation of reading and writing. But in order to read and write, a child first needs to acquire a good vocabulary and be able to discriminate sounds and rhyming patterns. This is where singing and rhyming and storytelling come in. Gone are the days when it was second nature to sing and chant songs to babies. Now when we introduce Mother Goose nursery rhymes in class, most of our children have never heard any of these common childhood songs. It’s fun to witness their excitement  when they master a song/rhyme and can recite it by heart.


Here’s what children learn through rhyme:


  • better overall phonemic awareness (the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds)
  • to listen more intently and follow a beat
  • learn whole songs and chants at a very young age
  • develop re-telling skills, oral storytellers become great story writers
  • can predict easily a word that may be missing in a sentence


Solid rhyming skills will lead to auditory discrimination, stronger phonemic awareness and a large vocabulary, all foundations for strong reading skills.


As we do at Storybook Workshop, go back to a simpler time, read and sing Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes together.  Silly as they are, these rhymes are a good old-fashioned childhood pleasure. Get to know the best rhyming authors; Julia Donaldson, Mo Willems, Nick Sharatt and of course Dr. Seuss. Play rhyming games with your child; “tell me what rhymes with cow etc…” Put down the screens and put on lively children’s music, they’ll be singing songs back to you while also practicing great pre-reading skills.


I hope these ideas inspire you to dig deep into your own childhood memories. You never know, it may even lead you around the Mulberry Bush over London Bridge!


Tina Moran