Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The power of rhyme

What a treat to happen upon With Great Pleasure on Radio 4 this morning. The wonderful science writer Simon Singh shared some of his favourite pieces of literature. Actually, several of them would probably not usually merit the term literature, which is not to belittle his fabulous choices at all. I especially loved his lead-in to a parody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The original is apparently Singh’s toddler son’s number one nursery rhyme. Singh joked that he likes to think of it as an introduction to astronomy. While this is a rather unusual perspective on the value of nursery rhymes, there is plenty of evidence that they play an important part in children’s learning.

I am currently working up a course on library rhyme times, as a follow up to a training day on early years library provision. It has been great to visit some inspirational sessions and to talk to library staff and parents and carers to help me build up a complete picture of good policy and practice. One grandmother spoke to me in glowing terms about the impact rhyme and toddler times have had on her grandson. She praised their effect on his social and emotional development – they have made him much less shy – and was in no doubt about their contribution to his language development and general learning.

I have learnt a lot from my visits and discussions that will inform not only my early years and new rhyme time training, but also my courses on family learning and family literacy, and not just for library staff, but in museums and across the cultural and heritage sector generally. Very many thanks to Enfield Library Service in particular.