Who Was Mother Goose?

Do you have any preferred nursery rhymes? We do! We adore “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Hot Cross Buns.” Have you ever come across “Humpty Dumpty”? How about “Ring Around the Rosie”? If so, you probably already have some knowledge about the subject of today’s Wonder of the Day. It’s Mother Goose!

Many children think Mother Goose is quite fantastic. And why wouldn’t they? She’s a significant part of many well-known children’s poems. This leads some individuals to QUESTION—is Mother Goose a fictional character? Or is she based on a real person?

If you ever visit Boston, Massachusetts, you may hear that Mother Goose was indeed an actual person. Some believe she resided there in the 1660s. They claim she was either named Elizabeth Goose or Mary Goose.

According to legend, this woman took care of 16 children. She enjoyed singing songs and creating rhyming stories for them. This was definitely a common practice at that time. Many women sang rhyming songs to their children in order to help them fall asleep. That’s why they’re called nursery rhymes!

However, there is no evidence that Mother Goose was a real person. Nevertheless, many fairy tales and nursery rhymes are attributed to her. A few examples include “Jack and Jill,” “Little Miss Muffet,” and “Hickory Dickory Dock.” She also appears as the main character in one rhyme:

“Old Mother Goose, When she wanted to wander, Would ride through the air On a very fine gander. Jack’s mother came in, And caught the goose soon, And mounting its back, Flew up to the moon.”

The first printed publication of Mother Goose stories came in 1695. It was a collection of fairy tales by Charles Perrault titled Tales of my Mother Goose. The collection included classics such as “Sleeping Beauty,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Cinderella.”

Mother Goose became closely associated with nursery rhymes. This association grew with the publication of John Newberry’s Sonnets for the Cradle around 1765. In 1781, Mother Goose’s Melody was published in England.

Today, Mother Goose even has her own holiday. Since 1987, many schools and libraries have celebrated Mother Goose Day on May 1. It’s a time to remember and enjoy the fairy tales and nursery rhymes of youth. How would you observe Mother Goose Day? Would you dress as your favorite nursery rhyme character? Recite a childhood poem for friends and family members? There are countless ways to celebrate!

Try It Out

Ready to continue learning? Find an adult who can assist you in trying out one or more of the activities below:

Get Active and Have Fun with Nursery Rhyme Games

Are you ready for some interactive fun? Leave the flying and quacking to the geese, and let’s play some exciting games! These classic games, combined with singing nursery rhymes, are guaranteed to be a hit on the playground. Give London Bridge, The Farmer in the Dell, or The Mulberry Bush a try.

Do you know any other entertaining rhymes or fairy tales? Share one of your favorite classics with a friend or family member. In return, ask them to share their beloved stories or rhymes with you.

Feeling inspired? Why not try creating your very own nursery rhyme? Start by coming up with a main character, and then craft a rhyming story around them. For an extra touch, try singing your nursery rhyme to a catchy tune. Let your creativity flow and enjoy the process of writing your own rhyme!

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