Nursery rhymes are dying off

 When I was child my mom would sing all kind of songs to me. Some were gospel or folk songs she grew up with and others were nursery rhymes. I can still hear her singing “Hush little baby don’t say a word, Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird..”

I did my share of taking care of the babies when we had them.  I would let my wife sleep while I got up for the night time feeding. After the burping I would hum various Beatle songs, mostly the song “Flying” from the Magical Mystery Tour LP.

It seems I am not the only one because a new survey says nursery rhymes are in danger of dying out. It is because parents are singing pop songs to their children instead and I am guilty of that.

It suggests 40% of parents with young children cannot recite a single rhyme all the way through.

Of the rhymes people did know, most popular were Jack and Jill (19%), Humpty Dumpty (17%) and Ring Around the Roses (12%).

Three quarters of parents surveyed agreed singing to young children was a good way to help them to learn to read.

But 44% of parents said they were singing pop songs and TV theme tunes instead.

Ian Davidson, of the pollster MyVoice, which questioned 1,200 parents for the survey, said that the nursery rhyme was falling victim to market forces.

“It all seems to be to do with choice and relevance. Twenty years ago there were 100 different breakfast cereals to choose from, now there are 300. The old brands such as Kellogg’s Cornflakes remain, but there will also be many other options.

“It’s the same with nursery rhymes. They will never die out among a core of people, but they are facing more competition in popular culture and they no longer have a clear field any more.”

But Janine Spencer, a developmental psychologist at Brunel University, lamented the decline of the nursery rhyme, which she said was of enormous educational value.

“Not only are nursery rhymes an important historical part of our culture, but by singing them to young children you can help speed up the development of their communication, memory, language and reading skills,” she said.

So I guess we should go back to scaring the hell out of our kids by singing ‘ Rock – a – by Baby’ – the sadistic song about a baby falling out of a tree limb crib and plummeting to the ground.


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