Sally Go Round the Stars by Sarah Webb

During Writers’ Week I’ll be hosting a Nursery Rhyme Fun Day for young children of 3 to 5. I’m a huge advocate of nursery rhymes and my collection, Sally Go Round the Stars (with Claire Ranson, illustrated by newcomer, Steve McCarthy), was a labour of love.

In the introduction to the collection I wrote:

Where would we be without Humpty Dumpty or Incy Wincy Spider? Not to mention the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. Nursery rhymes are part of an oral tradition dating back hundreds of years, and they give most children their very experience of fiction and poetry. And they have lasted because they’re above all fun!

In this collection we brought together some of our favourites from many different sources – old Irish song books, traditional nursery rhyme books, our own childhood memories. We wanted to give the book a uniquely ‘Irish’ feel by including rhymes and songs such as Are Ye Right, Michael? which my dad (also Michael) used to sing to me every night, and Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, a rhyme that still makes me shudder a little as my sisters had very strong fingers indeed!

At the festival I will be encouraging young children (and their parents) to make animal noises during the animal rhymes; wiggle their fingers and toes during the action rhymes; giggle and squirm during the tickle rhymes; and finally have bouncy fun during the knee rhymes (let’s hope the parents’ limbs are up to it). We’ll be singing Incy Wincy Spider, acting out I’m a Little Teapot, and marching to The Grand Old Duke of York.

Nursery rhymes are a brilliant way to spend fun yet educational time with your child. And it’s never too early to start.

Some of my favourite collections include:

  • Michael Foreman’s Nursery Rhymes (Walker Books)
  • The Orchard Book of Nursery Rhymes (Orchard)
  • Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever (Golden Book, US)
  • The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose (Knopf Books, US)

And I’d love to see a Niamh Sharkey nursery rhyme collection – she has an amazing way of connecting with young children through her art – although as she’s just been made Laureate na nÓg, she may be rather busy over the next two years!

Yours in books,

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb will be holding her nursery rhyme session on Saturday, June 2nd, at 12.30pm in the Castle Grounds, The Seachaí Centre.