Children’s literature

Part II. Forms and genres

 

21. Children’s rhymes and folklore

 

Andy Arleo

 

Children’s folklore today

 

According to a well-documented and entrenched adult folk belief, children’s folklore is disappearing under the assaults of modern life and technology. Opie and Opie (1997) provide a series of quotations going back to the seventeenth century showing that this attitude has become a tradition in itself. Thus, the putative decline of children’s play and folklore has been attributed in the past to the development of the railway, cinema, motor vehicles, radio, television and pop music; today, video games and computer technology are among the often-cited culprits. Actual fieldwork around the world has time and time again disproved such dire predictions (Despringre 1997; Chauvin-Payan 1999; Bishop and Curtis 2001). Recent surveys, such as that in New Zealand by linguists Laurie and Winifred Bauer of Victoria University of Wellington, demonstrate that children’s folklore is a vibrant, living and evolving tradition that shows no signs of dying out (Bauer and Bauer 2002).