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Mother Goose Rhymes

Updated on June 29, 2015

Hickory Dickory Dock

Not only are Mother Goose rhymes a part of our western cultural heritage, but Mother Goose has her own special holiday. May 1 is Mother Goose Day! Of course, these classic rhymes can be celebrated  any day of the year!

How well do you know your nursery rhymes? Can you distinguish Old King Cole from Old Mother Hubbard? Does Little Boy Blue get confused with Little Jack Horner in your memory? Take an online quiz and see how familiar you are with these timeless poems!

Then keep reading for more Mother Goose fun.

Hey diddle, diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed To see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon


Your Mother Goose Book

What did your childhood Mother Goose volume look like? Was it a traditional one or a more modern one? For a bit of nostalgia, look through the books below and find your childhood version.

Mother Goose rhymes have been published in multiple formats over the years. They first appeared in England in 1780 in America in 1786. By nineteenth century America, Mother Goose had become a symbol of both children's literature and of childhood in general. Even today, nursery rhyme games are the staple of baby showers and Mother Goose rhyme art is still used to decorate a new baby's nursery.

Over time, the various images of Mother Goose and her nursery rhyme characters were used in advertising campaigns, such as the Jack and Jill Peppers seen here.

Eclipse offers a fascinating series of images of Mother Goose through the years. She is sometimes portrayed as a woman with a goose and other times as a goose herself.

A cultured, educated person generally is thought to be familiar with the canon of western literature -- including the Bible, Shakespeare, Greek myths, and Mother Goose rhymes! For example, A Treasury of Mother Goose is recommended by E. D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Preschool Curriculum. The Poetry Foundation features Mother Goose on 3 lists of its Essential Children's Collection -- Anthologies, Contemporary, and Out of Print.

Make sure your children can recite some Mother Goose rhymes. They will love the silly images and musical language.

The Real Mother Goose - by Blanche Fisher Wright

This was my Mother Goose, and the one that I bought for my daughter.

More Traditional Mother Goose Titles

These options are all fairly traditional versions of the Mother Goose rhymes.

Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (Giant Golden Book)
Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (Giant Golden Book)
This is another version that I had in childhood. Those sentimental memories caused me to buy in for my daughter later in life.

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry;

When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.

We all have a favorite one. Which is yours?

Your Favorite Mother Goose Rhyme

See results

Why Read Nursery Rhymes?

Omitting nursery rhymes from your child's library not only leaves a gap in the cultural literacy foundation, but also robs them of some delightfully frivolous fun.

Most parents want their children to achieve in every way possible. But they may also wrongly expect everything the child does, sees, and hears to have an academic purpose. Even if they do see the value of rhymes for learning the patterns of language, Mother Goose may seem to them simply outdated poems that can be effectively replaced with Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, or Shel Sliverstein.

The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim is an academic explanation of the psychological value of fairy tales and nursery rhymes for a child's development. Bettelheim holds that these childhood stories have great value in teaching children that "a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinisc part of human existance--but that if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious."

Others have tried to dissect the historical backgrounds and hidden meanings of the nursery rhymes in an effort to give them a "value."

But the reality is that although Mother Goose has value as poetry and may give children a structure by which to playact their deepest fears, and may also have interesting historical connections, many of them are simply nonsense. But children need time to play, laugh, and speak the nonsense of these rhymes. If childhood is totally devoid of nonsense, where is the wonder and joy of those years? The magic of the rhymes is their simple ability to please the child who hears and recites them. And to please a child is really reason enough to read Mother Goose rhymes.

So, Please don't kill off our nursery rhymes.

Mother Goose Vintage Paperdoll

Mother Goose Vintage Paperdoll
Mother Goose Vintage Paperdoll

Use the Mother Goose rhymes to teach basic phonic skills.

Mother Goose Phonics: Learning to Read Is Fun With Adorable Activities, Games and Manipulatives Based on Favorite Nursery Rhymes
Mother Goose Phonics: Learning to Read Is Fun With Adorable Activities, Games and Manipulatives Based on Favorite Nursery Rhymes
If you prefer an instant download, this book is also available at CurrClick in Ebook format.

Mary Had a Little Lamb Vintage Paperdoll

Mary Had a Little Lamb Vintage Paperdoll
Mary Had a Little Lamb Vintage Paperdoll

Mother Goose Online

Because Mother Goose has been around for so long, many editions of the rhymes have passed into the public domain. These links are some of the most beautiful digital versions.

Mother Goose Board Books - for toddlers and babies

Early education professionals all recommend reading or singing nursery rhymes to your children. These board books are a great place to start.

Your Comments

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    • yayas profile image


      8 years ago

      I certainly enjoyed my visit on your page of Mother Goose rhymes. I have always loved the rhymes of Mother Goose. There is still so much to be gained by reading an' looking at the beautiful old illustrations by such greats as Kate Greenaway. Thank you for posting about Mother Goose.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You know, this one has stuck with me the longest: "Hey diddle, diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon; The little dog laughed To see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon." Reflecting back on it, I wonder how far the dish and the spoon got?

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      8 years ago from Covington, LA

      Mother Goose rocks. Every child should read their nursery rhymes. You have provided a lot of great material and links for Preschool through primary teachers. Sprinkled with dust from the Angel of the farmyard on a Back to School Field Trip and featured on 70 Super Angel Blessed Squidoo Pages.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      So many memories came up with this lens! I grew up on these rhymes. Nice job :).

    • Tagsforkids profile image


      9 years ago

      Brought back some fond memories, both of my childhood as well as my children's.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      9 years ago

      I didn't know that there is a "Mother Goose Day". I learn something new every day on Squidoo :) Thumbs up for this lens :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      how i loved those mother goose rhymes. hope my kids love them too. a great passing on of that nostalgia. smart job. liked that.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi! I stumbled upon your Squidoo Lens and really like it. You have made a valid point here! I've always believed in reading fairy tales to my kids. I grew up reading them all the time. So many young mothers nowdays wrongly think fairy tales are harmful to their children. I favored your lens! It's great!

    • SpellOutloud profile image


      10 years ago

      Love all the links here! Are you going to make a Mother Goose SquidQuiz? It would go perfectly :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      10 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Would you believe that I still have my old Mother Goose Book. The pages are yellow and brittle but it holds many wonderful memories for me. I am a firm believer in reading Mother Goose Rhymes to children beginning with day 1 and did just that with my son and my grandson. I love the Kate Greenway illustrations that you show here. Blessed by an honorary Squid Angel.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      11 years ago

      What a wonderful lens! ***** Yes, these are a base for our culture. Thanks! This is going to be lensrolled to my parenting lenses!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Mother Goose rhymes are classics. I loved them as a child, my children loved them, and I look forward to sharing them with grandchildren one day.

      Great lens


    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Excellent and fun lens! I am proud to add it to the BIG LENSES group!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      12 years ago from Royalton

      Great lens on Mother Goose. Lensrolled to Beginning Readers.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I live Mother Goose. You have done a great job on this lens!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I remember being skeptical of nursery rhymes when I was little. "Why does the itsy bitsy spider keep going up the water spout? Dumb spider." But I liked them anyway. ;)

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Hi Jimmie! I love Mother Goose awesome to have all of these great resources in one terrific lens! Thanks so much for all your effort, and for being an active member at Lori

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      5* for you! I LOVE mother goose! Dog Whisper Woman

    • LilliputStation profile image


      12 years ago

      Hey, Jimmie! I read this entire lens before looking to see who wrote it. I should have known! Great lens! We're going to have fun exploring some of these links. Melissa


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