The nation’s favourite nursery rhyme is revealed
But a new survey
shows that nursery rhymes are falling out of favour with parents.
A new survey has revealed that the UK is falling out of love with
nursery rhymes, with parents claiming that nursery rhymes are simply too
old-fashioned to interest their children.
Only 36% of parents surveyed regularly use nursery rhymes with their
children, while almost a quarter admit that they have never sung a
nursery rhyme with their child.
More than 20% of young parents claimed not to use them because they were
not considered educational.
Over 2,500 people participated in the survey for National Bookstart Day,
which took place Friday 9 October. National Bookstart Day celebrates
the Bookstart programme, which gives three packs of free books to every
child in the UK and encourages sharing books and rhymes with children
from as young an age as possible.
The theme of this year’s National Bookstart Day is My Favourite Rhyme.
The nation’s favourite nursery rhyme is Twinkle Twinkle Little
The top ten across the UK are:
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Incey Wincey Spider
Round and Round the Garden
Baa Baa Black Sheep
The Grand Old Duke of York
If You’re Happy and You Know It
This Little Piggy
Ring a Ring a Roses
I’m a Little Teapot
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
was the favourite amongst all the regions in the UK, apart from the
north east which chose Incey Wincey Spider.
Gender and region played a significant role in the popularity and
frequency of use of nursery rhymes. Of the men surveyed, 32% never use
rhymes compared to 16% of women.
Parents in the Midlands and Wales most frequently used rhymes, with more
than 42% answering that they often sing nursery rhymes. Parents in
Northern Ireland were the least likely to use nursery rhymes, with only
28% of parents saying that they sang them with their children.
The research also revealed that:
The younger generation no longer knows all the words to traditional
over 74% of 55+ year olds knew all the words to Little Miss
Muffet, compared to only 58% of 16-24 year olds.
Similarly, over 72% of 55+ year olds knew all the words to Hey
Diddle Diddle compared to 46% of all 16-24 year
33% of young parents surveyed (16-24) said that nursery rhymes were
too old-fashioned to interest their children while 20% claimed that
they were not educational enough to use with their children
Men are far less confident about singing nursery rhymes.
52% of men surveyed knew all the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little
Star compared to 83% of women
Only 45% of men surveyed knew all the words to Incey Wincey
Spider compared to 78% of women
63% claimed that they used nursery rhymes because they make children
laugh, while 18% of parents use them instead of reading a bedtime
The survey also revealed the powerful impact of early exposure to
nursery rhymes as more than 70% of those surveyed could remember all the
words to eight rhymes or more. Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill and
Baa Baa Black Sheep were the rhymes that were most easily
million books of the nation’s top eight rhymes will be produced and
distributed in celebration of Bookstart, to help today’s parents develop
a strong love of rhymes and give them the confidence to share nursery
rhymes with their children.
Thousands of families from across the UK will be invited to take part in
a range of activities at libraries, nurseries, schools, early years
centres, shopping centres and bookshops to highlight the fun of
book-sharing. These will include Bookstart Rhymetimes which enable the
whole family to share and enjoy rhymes with children, appearances from
the Bookstart Bear and song and story telling sessions.
Borders, Waterstones and independent bookshops across the country will
be running nursery rhyme-themed events in support and celebration of
National Bookstart Day.
Dr Tanya Byron, broadcaster commented:
‘Sharing rhymes and books with your child is a fantastic way to enhance
your special bond and to encourage them to develop their language,
reading and communication skills through play. My children loved to join
in with the actions on favourites such as Incey Wincey Spider and
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and as a family we all looked
forward to embarking on new adventures through treasured bedtime
stories. Bookstart, with its offer of free book packs and Rhymetime
sessions, is a valuable provision that helps to support this
interaction, at such a magical stage of your child’s growth.’
Rosemary Clarke, Director of Bookstart and Bookgifting:
‘A love of reading is a priceless gift that every mother, father and
grandparent can pass on to a child. Sharing stories, songs and rhymes
from the well-known traditional fairytales, to those that may only be
known to your family or in your culture, helps babies and toddlers in so
many ways. It helps children to build a wider vocabulary and enables
them to achieve more in their reading and writing when they start
school. Children are taught how to read at school, but it is even better
when they already have a love of books. Bookstart aims to encourage
every child on their reading journey.’
Professor Roger Beard, Head of Primary Education, Institute of
‘Sharing rhymes with young children is as important today as it ever
was. It helps them to enjoy playing with language and to learn about its
patterns and rhythms. Some favourite rhymes date back 200 years or more.
For instance, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star has an enduring
simplicity, while also allowing children and grown-ups to share in their
wonderment about the night-time sky. The appeal of other rhymes, like
Incey Wincey Spider, is probably linked to the simple actions that
accompany them and which are easily shared with small children.’
Bookstart is run by Booktrust, an independent national charity that
encourages people of all ages and cultures to engage with books.
Bookstart is the national bookgifting programme that encourages all
parents and carers to enjoy books with children from as early an age as
possible. We want every child in the UK to develop a lifelong love of
books. Bookstart is a public and private partnership and is generously
sponsored by children’s book publishers, Central funding is provided
through the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and, the
Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department for
Children, Schools and Families in England. Working through local
authorities and primary care trusts, Bookstart gives the gift of free
books to children at around eight months, 18 months and three years,
along with guidance materials for mothers, fathers and other carers.
Bookstart also aims to foster a love of books through a range of fun
activities. Parents wishing to receive a pack should speak to their
Health Visitor or contact their local library.
Booktrust is an independent charity dedicated to encouraging people of
all ages and cultures to engage with books. The written word underpins
all our activity and enables us to fulfil our vision of inspiring a
lifelong love of books for all.