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We are swept back to memories of our childhood whenever we hear of National Mother Goose Day on May 1. From Humpty Dumpty’s clumsy fall and the Three Little Pigs’ scramble for houses to Pinnochio’s elongated nose, fairy tales and nursery rhymes endlessly entertained us as kids whilst providing us with important life lessons. Charles Perrault, a French author, is thought to have been the first writer to establish fairy tales as a separate genre in 1695. Fast-forward a little further into the future, the Grimm fairy tales, which were published during the 19th century, have now become quite famous worldwide. Thanks to Disney, the Grimm fairy tales have become more child-friendly but, originally, they were gruesome in their details. For example, in the original version of “Snow White,” her stepmother died after being cursed to dance in glass heels forever.


Gloria. T. Delamar, a prominent fairy-tale writer, founded National Mother Goose Day in 1987. This was the same year when Delamar published “Mother Goose: From Nursery to Literature.” But the history of fairy-tales and subsequent nursery rhymes go quite further back in history. The French writer from the 17th century, Charles Perrault, is believed to have been the founder of the fairy-tale genre. It was through his works that fantasy and life lessons were incorporated for the first time. In 1729, an English version of Perrault’s work, translated by Robert Samber, was published and it was called “Histories, or, Tales of Past Times, Told by Mother Goose.”

Many of the original versions of fairy tales and nursery rhymes had much darker themes than the ones that we have today. In the Little Mermaid story, instead of Ariel’s happy ending, she returns to the sea and dies after turning into sea foam. Another example is the nursery rhyme, ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’, which refers to the bubonic plague. In the old days, fairy tales and nursery rhymes, much like poetry, would parody the political situations of a country. Sometimes, the satire would be taken with so much offense that the writer was put to death!

Many famous authors of the modern age, like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, credit fairy tales and nursery rhymes with influencing their thinking and work. It is also because of these writers and their predecessors that many people get into reading in the first place, and this was the aim of Delamar and all the other nursery rhyme writers who wanted to encourage children to read. Studies show that reading fiction from a very young age creates empathy and these people tend to be leaders with great qualities and skills. Empathy, in itself, is an important quality in all walks of life.

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