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Nursery rhymes decline

(Global Times)

09:43, September 07, 2012

Maggie Xu, mother of a 4-year-old in Beijing creates nursery rhymes by herself, sometimes with her daughter's help.

"I create different stories, with her as the protagonist," Xu said. "It's easy for her to learn and repeat."

Nursery rhymes, simple with catchy rhythms, have been regarded as an optimal way of educating children in the early ages.

Traditional rhymes spread orally, generation after generation. Some classics passed on by grandparents continue to appeal to children today.

But this tradition is at risk of extinction, due to changing social environments and a lack of attention.

Enticing good writing

Xu complained that there are few quality rhyme books for children in the market.

"There are a few classics, and the new writers have not caught up," she said.

Reportedly, there are hundreds of writers who create nursery rhymes, but only a dozen or so stand out. They are usually seniors, in their 60s or 70s.

"Most creators are children's poetry writers, teachers and parents. There are no professional rhyme writers, as far as I know," Chen Wenying, an editor of Jiangsu Juvenile and Children's Publishing House, told the Global Times.

She said that rhymes receive low pay and have few publication channels, which results in a dismissal of the field.

"Only a few new rhymes are good, most good ones are classics from the past," Chen said.

Jin Bo, a skilled creator of nursery rhymes, said that young people interested in the field find the low pay daunting.

"Emerging writers don't begin writing nursery rhymes and instead write fairy tales," he told Beijing Daily.

The lack of young writers furthers the gap between rhymes and today's children.

Meanwhile, there are many "grey rhymes," created by children themselves. They add funny parts to poems or creating doggerels, some rather crude and decadent.

For example, one rhyme goes, "Going to school is tiring, going to school is suffering, why not go to gangland, eat delicious food and sleep with beauties?"

Some say children create their own rhymes to relieve pressure.

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