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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

A-Pass-Along (The Reason Behind the Rhyme )

This pass-along comes from my brother John, who happened to catch this on the radio on The Leonard Lopate Show. It is an interview of Chris Roberts about his new book called, Heavy Words, Lightly Thrown. Mr. Roberts, a South London librarian, conducts F and M Walking Tours in London and investigated the forgotten meanings of familiar nursery rhymes. The following link will take you to the show's website where you can listen to the 20 minute interview or read an excerpt from the book.

Here is just a little bit from the book:

"The move towards sanitizing rhymes for children accelerated in the Victorian era, with its radically altered view of childhood, its recognition of childhood as a concept. Prior to that, little thought was given to shielding “adult sights” from children, even if it had been possible to do so. During the nineteenth century the rhymes were increasingly written up, illustrated, and sold as collections for children. This took them off the streets and into the parlours, making them at once more accessible but perhaps less potent. It would not do to blame the Victorians entirely for the loss of meaning in nursery rhymes, as it’s quite probable that some had already lost their point before then, and many were certainly written down prior to the nineteenth century. The Victorians were keen on deliberately rewriting them, however, as opposed to accidentally mistranslating them, in a bid to tidy the rhymes and give moral instruction. For the first time in British history, there was the beginning of a division between adult and children’s entertainment."


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