Chances are that a parent, caregiver or someone else in your life sang nursery rhymes to you when you were a child. You may remember hearing about Humpty Dumpty or how the dish ran away with the spoon. Nursery rhymes are often some of the first stories we hear as children and, here at the library, we still love those tried-and-true rhymes that have stood the test of time.
When it comes to sharing nursery rhymes with your little one, we can’t say enough about the early literacy benefits. Here are just five of the ways that nursery rhymes prepare children for reading and writing:
- Many nursery rhymes are sung, which slows down their pace and allows children to hear the individual sounds in words. We call this early literacy skill phonological awareness.
- As this Reading Rockets article points out, nursery rhymes allow children to experience the “rhythm and rhyme of language.” While little ones may not completely understand all of the content of a nursery rhyme, they are still learning much about language.
- Nursery rhymes often provide exposure to new vocabulary that they may not hear in everyday family conversations (e.g., “waterspout” in “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”). This provides an opportunity to explain the meaning of new words in context.
- Children learn to talk by hearing others talk and by practicing. When children repeat a nursery rhyme, they are practicing their oral language skills in an accessible way.
- As nursery rhymes often tell a short story with a beginning, middle and end, they allow children to practice their narrative skills. For example, in “Hickory Dickory Dock,” the mouse runs up the clock (beginning), the clock strikes one (middle), and the mouse runs down (end). This basic knowledge of story structure will help prepare them to later read and write stories.
Here are some of our favourite nursery rhyme picture books!