Mother Goose, Rhymes & Songs Mother Goose, Rhymes & Songs

Books and Sources



Nursery Rhyme Collections to Read With Children

Suggested Books Collecting Children's Rhymes

Literary Criticism & Analysis of Children's Rhymes


Books to Read With Children

There are many many others besides these. Often, you can find picture books for very young children which illustrate just a single rhyme. A new trend is picture books with a button to push which plays the melody. Some teachers like those to begin to work with teaching children to read music, beginning with familiar tunes. I am sure you all have your favorites, and I would be delighted to list some of them, as space allows. Send suggestions to: pfa@umich.edu.

Craig, Helen. I see the moon, and the moon sees me ... NY: Willa Perlman Books / HarperCollins, (c) 1992. ISBN 0-06-021453-8; ISBN 0-06-021454-6.

Our family favorite. Charming and detailed watercolor illustrations with fifty-four children's rhymes from a variety of sources. For many of the rhymes, it includes more complete versions of the lyrics than are commonly encountered.
de Paola, Tomie. Tomie de Paola's Mother Goose. NY: G. P. Putnam & Sons, c1985. ISBN 0-399-21258-2. $17.95.

Tomie de Paola is so popular an illustrator that you have surely already encountered his books, whether or not you are aware of it. He gives credit for the source of most of the rhymes being from the authoritative collections of Peter and Iona Opie, and has made a special effort to include the full version of the longer rhymes. It is a rather large collection (100+ pages) with clear colorful appealing illustrations.
Larche, Douglas W. Father Gander Nursery Rhymes. Illus. Carolyn Marie Blattel. Santa Barbara, CA: Advocacy Press [PO Box 236, Dept. A, S.B., CA, 93102], (c) 1985. ISBN 0-911655-12-3, $12.95 + s/h.

A curious and interesting attempt at reworking the traditional nursery rhymes in a politically correct fashion (non-sexist, sensitive to those with disabilities, etc.). Useful for those parents concerned about social issues. The book also puts its money where its mouth is, by using as illustrations works by the highly collectible artist, Carolyn Marie Blattel, who is also an achrondroplastic dwarf.
Nursery Rhymes Coloring Book. Ed. Victoria Fremont, Illus. Nina Barbaresi. (Dover Little Activity Books) NY: Dover Publications, (c) 1992. ISBN 0-486-27056-4, $1.00.

Inexpensive and entertaining, this cook can be read, sung, and colored in by the child. The rhymes are not just traditional, but historically accurate, being largely selected from the Dover reprint of the 1833 version of Mother Goose's Melodies (see below).
Opie, Iona & Opie, Peter. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, c1992, 1st edition c1947. ISBN 1-56402-046-0. $19.95.

This is the only book you will find listed in multiple sections of this source page. It is a true delight, with amusing illustrations from Maurice Sendak, historical annotations in the footnotes at the end of the book, and a rich and earthy selection of offbeat (and sometimes risque) rhymes, some of which you will surely remember from your own childhood.
Opie, Iona. My Very First Mother Goose. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, c1996. ISBN 1-56402-620-5. $19.99.

Iona Opie is the grand old dame of children's rhymes, surely the most knowledgeable person on the subject alive today, and one of my personal heros. Rosemary Wells is widely known for her delightful stories and illustrations which have the gift of clearly expressing the child's emotional state in a way all can identify. This collaboration has my enthusiastic endorsement. In particular, if you are a parent, be sure to read the introduction to this book, in which Iona Opie gives examples of how to strategically use nursery rhymes to help children understand themselves, their emotions, their world, and to help them learn to laught at themselves. A delightful book by two wise women, each sensitive to children and their needs.
Rey, H.A. Humpty Dumpty, and Other Mother Goose Songs. HarperFestival, c1995, c1971, c1943. ISBN 1-694-00652-1.

Remember Curious George? Well, this is the same author/illustrator, applying his talents to just a bare few of his own favorite rhymes. I laugh every time I read this to my child, because of the delightful visual puns he uses in the musical calligraphy -- imagine the music for Humpty Dumpty with the noteheads being fried eggs, sunny side up. Given the date of the original edition, some of the illustrations have sexist overtones. With a child who is old enough, I explain these as being the product of a different era.
Ward, HelenHelen Ward's Nursery Treasury. Dorking, Surrey, England: The Templar Company, (c) 1995. ISBN 1-898784-55-8.

This large and lushly illustrated collection was printed in Italy just as many of the fine art coffee table books are, and it does bear a certain resemblance to a fine art coffee table book. The illustrations are so richly coloured, vibrant, and cleanly textured you may wish you could frame them, as I did, and indeed, I bought multiple copies to do so with single pages. The selection of rhymes is intelligent and diverse, including enough traditional rhymes for a sense of familiarity, but also including weather lore, medieval riddles, and other surprises which blend very nicely into the whole. Since it is physically a little large, it is more appropriate for reading with a group of children, rather than snuggling on the couch. Highly recommended for the almost school age child!
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Suggested Books Collecting Children's Rhymes

Daiken, Leslie. Children's games throughout the year. B.T. Batsford, (c) 1949.

Fowke, Edith. Sally go round the sun; three hundred children's songs, rhymes and games. NY: Doubleday, (c1969).

Mother's Gooses melodies: Facsimile edition of the Munroe and Francis "Copyright 1833" version., with a new introduction and bibliographic note by E. F. Bleiler. NY: Dover Publns, c1970.

Opie, Iona & Opie, Peter. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, c1992, 1st edition c1947.

Opie, Iona & Opie, Peter. The Oxford nursery rhyme book. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977, c1951.

Rosetti, Christina. Sing-song, a nursery rhyme book. New York: Dover Publns, 1968, c1872.

Singing games and playparty games, compiled by Richard Chase, Illustrated by Joshua Tolford. New York: Dover Publns, 1967, c1949.

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Literary Criticism & Analysis of Children's Rhymes

Iles, Norman. Who really killed Cock Robin? : nursery rhymes and carols restored to their original meanings. London : R. Hale, 1986.
This one is a real eye-opener. Expect to be shocked, surprised, delighted, and amazed. But don't read it if you think it might spoil your fondness for the rhymes you are accustomed to -- they take on a whole new meaning.

Rollin, Lucy. Cradle and all : a cultural and psychoanalytic reading of nursery rhymes. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c1992.

Sackville-West, Victoria. Nursery rhymes. London, Dropmore Press, 1947.

An early classic in the field.


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