So what is the benefit of reading nursery rhymes to your children? For starters, according to Harper, 2011, “Nursery rhymes develop phonemic skills which improve reading, spelling, and other literacy skills like phonics and comprehension.” Such language building blocks!
Let’s look at a few benefits of reading nursery rhymes to your children:
- Repetition of rhymes and stories is brain ‘food.’ Since verses are made up of patterns of sounds and rhythms, they are fun and easily memorized and loved by children!
- They assist with developing auditory skills in children – this simply means hearing differences between sounds in words and developing an ear for the ‘music’ of words. The educational term for this is phonemic awareness. Who would have thought? A phoneme is simply a unit of sound.
- Because they are easily memorized, the cadence of the sing-song of the verses gives children practice in articulating what might otherwise be difficult words to pronounce.
- Reading these little treasures develops listening comprehension in children.
- They increase vocabulary: like “fetch” in Jack and Jill; “gander” in Old Mother Goose; “broth” in There Was an Old Woman; learning to count with One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; “tuffet” in Little Miss Muffet; “mulberry” in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush; “nimble” in Jack Be Nimble.
- They set the stage for poetry appreciation with alliteration, onomatopoeia (buzz and hiss are examples), and imagery – making pictures in our heads from what is read.
- Nursery rhymes develop our sense of humor. For example The Purple Cow. Would you rather be one or see one? How silly, but fun, providing laughter and silliness between parent and child!
When a mom met with me some years ago and told me about their family’s plans to adopt a little girl from another country who was 6 or 7 at that time, she asked me this question: What is it that she will be missing from her other- country culture that she should be given? Without a minute of thought, I said, “Read to her Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes!” That would lay a foundation for her to develop all those bullet points mentioned above. In fact, I went to my shelf and loaned her the book after sharing with me that she no longer had her copy.
So the next time you read a nursery rhyme to your child, know that there is an excellent academic return on your investment of time! Laugh and share your favorite rhyme with your child from your preschool days. And if they weren’t a part of your literary library growing up – well, by all means, treat yourself!