A friend recently asked me for suggestions for her one-year-old grandson. It was really fun to remember favorite books for our own kids, as well as books we enjoy giving newborns to grow into. I have so much to enthuse about that this is my second post geared to the two and under crowd. Please note that these books can continue to be favorites well past age two.
This second post I devote to the greatest take I’ve encountered on the greatest baby literature we have in our mother tongue. Guesses? That’s right! Mother Goose.
I almost start hyperventilating when I think about the two Mother Goose collections edited by folklorist Iona Opie and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, so I’m taking slow, deep breaths. Large format hardcovers, each about 100 pages. I spent so many happy hours reading and looking and reciting the poems with both kids. Their first one is My Very First Mother Goose. Wells draws a wonderful bunch of rabbits, cats, guinea pigs, humans, pigs etc. With each reading there’s another clever touch to appreciate. The rhymes are so infectious and so important for language development. Most of our hours with Mother Goose were between age 1 and 3. Many rhymes in there I knew (Baa, baa black sheep..) and many I didn’t like this gem:
From Wibbleton to Wobbleton is fifteen miles,
From Wobbleton to Wibbleton is fifteen miles,
From Wibbleton to Wobbleton, from Wobbleton to Wibbleton,
From Wibbleton to Wobbleton is fifteen miles.
…How great is that? Mother Goose rhythm, rhyming and fun with words give baby the richness the experts tell us is crucial for language development. The books give you lots of chances to “drop” baby and do other fun movements like in “Trot, trot to Boston”, “This little piggy went to market”, or “the brave old duke of York”. Rosemary Wells paintings are endless fun: cute, cozy, funny, mischievous, with many recurrent characters. I like the two rabbits wearing sunglasses in the front of a red Roadster convertible driving a fat, happy pig back from market. Some of the illustrations tell a separate, enjoyable story of their own, like “Half a pound of tuppenny rice (Pop! Goes the weasel!)” Wells gives us a tale of over-the-ocean penpals.
When it comes to My Very First Mother Goose and Here Comes Mother Goose, they’re both so full of pleasure I can’t recommend one over the other. But if you’re partial to guinea pigs, go with the latter.
Many of the poems you will already know, and others you can add to your repertoire. Even away from the book, you and baby can enjoy reciting things like
Rain on the green grass,
And rain on the tree;
Rain on the roof top,
But not on me.
And another new favorite:
I see the moon,
And the moon sees me;
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.
I love Iona Opie’s introduction to the first collection in which she says, “What did (Mother Goose rhymes) give us, so long ago? A suggestion that mishaps might be funny rather than tragic, that tantrums can be comical as well as frightening, and that laughter is the cure for practically everything.”
Are you convinced? Get your Goose ASAP. And please tell us what is your favorite Mother Goose collection!