Children’s literature

Part II. Forms and genres

 

21. Children’s rhymes and folklore

 

Andy Arleo

 

Future directions in the study of children’s folklore

 

The study of children’s rhymes and folklore has been a cross-disciplinary venture, involving folklorists, literary scholars, historians, linguists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists and ethnomusicologists as well as non-academics such as play consultants and teachers. The Internet has facilitated communication among these different categories of researchers and has offered unprecedented access to material from cultures around the world. One challenge of future research will be not only to put the results of fieldwork online, but also to make sense of this vast quantity of information by ensuring reliability and developing new methods of analysis. Although there have been some attempts to deal with the folklore of non-Western children, the bulk of past published research has focused on childlore in the developed world. A second challenge will therefore be to provide more complete coverage by gathering and making available data from these under-researched cultures and languages. As has been emphasised above, the field of childlore has broadened considerably since the nineteenth century and now includes genres of speech, behaviour and material folklore that were neglected in the past. We can expect that more attention will be paid to the ‘other people in the playground’, such as disabled children and children in specific institutional settings (Mechling 1999). Finally, research should continue to help educators become more aware of the value of childlore in the acquisition of social, cognitive and linguistic skills (Widdowson 2001).

 

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