History of Children's Poetry

  • Jack Sprat

    Jack Sprat
    In the 17th century children's literature was not it's own defined category, so poems were published for everyone to enjoy. Jack Sprat first appeared in John Clarke's collection of sayings in 1639:
    " Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane.
    Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane."
  • A Book For Boys and Girls

    A Book For Boys and Girls
    Eventually children were given their own form of literature, the first of which were didactic and religious in nature, meant to instruct young minds. John Bunyan's 'A book for boys and girls, or, country rhymes for children' contained a rhyming version of the 10 commandments.
    "“Thou shalt not have another god than me:thou shalt not to an image bow thy kneethou shalt not take the name of god in vainsee that the Sabbath thou do not profain"
  • First Appearance of Mother Goose

    First Appearance of Mother Goose
    The first collection of stories to bear the name "Mother Goose" was produced by Charles Perrault in 1697. His book of ten fairy tales was entitled Tales from the Past with Morals, and the cover of the book bore a picture of an old woman telling stories to children and a cat appeared a subtitle for the book: Contes de ma mère l'oye, or "Tales from My Mother Goose."
  • Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

    Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
    Following the example of didactic poetry, baa baa black sheep was published in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book in 1744, the reason for this rhyme is to associate wool to wool products with the animal that produces it and to show children the sound that the a sheep makes. This poem also has interchangable lyrics, as 'twinkle twinkle little star' and the 'ABC's' cong has the same melody.
  • Mother Goose's Melody: or Sonnets for the Cradle

    Mother Goose's Melody: or Sonnets for the Cradle
    Published by John Newbery (The Newbery award was named after him), was the english version of Charles Perrault's fairy tales, but greatly expanded upon and turned into nursery rhymes. It included such favorites as Little Tommy Tucker and Jack and Jill, along with half a hundred others.
  • Original Poerms for Infant Minds

    Original Poerms for Infant Minds
    Published in 1804,'Original Poems for Infant Minds' by Ann and Jane Taylor, the preface of the book encourages parents to encourage their children's burgeoning minds, which is indeed the opposite of the first form of children's poetry. It includes the first and full version of 'Twinkle twinkle little star'.
  • Mary had a Little Lamb

    Mary had a Little Lamb
    Originally written by Sarah Josepha Hale, it was inspired by true events of a young girl and her pet lamb. This poem introduces imagery of similes (white as snow) to give a more vivid picture of the poem.
  • Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense

    Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense
    First appearing in the 'Golden Age of Literature' Edward Lear's book introduced the first form of 'nonsense poetry', a poem that has no real reason, sometimes using made up words:
    "“There was an Old Man of the West,Who wore a pale plum-coloured vest;When they said, 'Does it fit?'He replied, 'Not a bit!'That uneasy Old Man of the West.”
  • The Jabberwocky

    The Jabberwocky
    Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, popularized the nonsense poetry verse, his most popular poem being 'The Jabberwock':
    "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!"
  • Under the Window: Pictures & Rhymes for Children

    Under the Window: Pictures & Rhymes for Children
    In 1879 Kate Greenaway published what was considered the first designer picture 'toy book''.
  • Ring a Ring o'Rosies

    Ring a Ring o'Rosies
    The first printing of the rhyme appeared in Kate Greenaway's version of Mother Goose, called 'Mother Goose or the Old Nusery Rhymes'. However, it has been around since the renaissance period, symbolizing the bubonic plagued that ravaged Europe in the 14th century, and was sung again in the 17th and 18th centuries, the last outbreak of the Black Death.
  • Good Night Moon

    Good Night Moon
    A highly acclaimed example of a bedtime story.
  • Green Eggs and Ham

    Green Eggs and Ham
    The first book Dr. Seuss ever published, this book is specifically for beginner readers.
  • Where the Wild Things are

    Where the Wild Things are
    At first, the book was banned from libraries and recieved negative criticism. Children, however, loved the book and it took about two years for the book to receive the credit it deserved.
  • Poetry After Lunch: Poetry to Read Aloud

    Poetry After Lunch: Poetry to Read Aloud
    Children's poetry has taken many forms over the past few decades, with some books using free verse, song lyrics, dub poetry, haiku, and conversational forms.