Further Reading

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THE LANGUAGE AND LORE OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
This is a fascinating collection of rhymes, songs, superstitions, etc, from the 1950s in England. Many similarities to the stuff I heard as a kid in the States in the 80s. Probably the best book on the subject by the best author on the subject. You can read this for hours on end.

GREASY GRIMY GOPHER GUTS
From the mid 1990s, probably the best American study by the late, great Josepha Sherman.

THE PEOPLE IN THE PLAYGROUND
From the author of “Language and Lore of Schoolchildren,” a narrative describing field work in playgrounds, circa the 1970s. Fascinating stuff – Opie is certainly the best author I’ve read on the subject, partly because she doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that she rather enjoys the rude rhymes, instead of trying to justify them on some sort of psychological grounds, like most researchers do.

THE SINGING GAME
Singing Games recorded in the UK through the 20th century, tracing some of them back much, much further. Interesting that so many of these games were alive and well in the U.K. as of the late 1970s.

AMERICAN CHILDREN’S FOLKLORE
This one includes more jokes and stories, not just rhymes and songs. The author’s photo makes him look like Tobias Fuhke. The book is worth buying for that alone, but my favorite part is the rather academic glossary that explains the difference between poop (verb) and poop (noun). He defines “fart” as “to release flautus.”

ONE POTATO TWO POTATO
From 1976, this is about the earliest major American compendium of children’s folklore, and contains just about every joke, story and song I knew in the 80s and 90s.

IN A DARK DARK ROOM
Still a staple of Easy-Ready libraries, as it has been since I was a kid, Alvin Schwartz wasn’t afraid to be scary when retelling these stories and rhymes (some of which appear, verbatim, in collections by Iona and Peter Opie). There’s a page of “sources” at the back of the book; you don’t see many Easy Readers with endnotes! A timeless classic. I’m a talking head in an upcoming documentary about Schwartz and his Scary Stories.

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