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How to Write a Traditional “Mother Goose” Nursery Rhyme

Humpty Dumpty

Some of the best known children’s poetry in the English language are the “nursery rhymes” of Mother Goose. Though no one knows for certain if Mother Goose was a real person, her rhymes have been popular with young children since the 1600’s. Some of the most popular Mother Goose rhymes include “Humpty Dumpty,” “Hey, Diddle Diddle,” “Little Bo Peep,” “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,” and many others. In fact, Mother Goose is credited with writing several hundred nursery rhymes.

But did you know that Mother Goose isn’t the only writer of nursery rhymes? “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” was written by an English woman named Jane Taylor. Many of the short nonsense poems of Edward Lear would qualify as nursery rhymes. And some, such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” are “traditional,” meaning we don’t know who wrote them.

In the past few decades, a number of children’s poets have also begun writing new nursery rhymes. For example, Canadian poet Dennis Lee has authored a number of books, including Alligator Pie, Jelly Belly, and Bubblegum Delicious, that are filled with new nursery rhymes. American poet Jack Prelutsky followed suit with books such as Ride a Purple PelicanBeneath a Blue Umbrella, and The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders.

Many authors have even started writing funny “fractured” nursery rhymes, taking well-known Mother Goose poems and updating them with humor and modern ideas.

In fact, even you can write your own new nursery rhymes, and it’s not that hard. All you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, a little time, and your imagination.