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The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  97 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
First published in 1959, Iona and Peter Opie's The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren is a pathbreaking work of scholarship that is also a splendid and enduring work of literature. Going outside the nursery, with its assortment of parent-approved entertainments, to observe and investigate the day-to-day creative intelligence and activities of children, the Opies bring to ...more
Paperback, 488 pages
Published August 31st 2000 by NYRB Classics (first published 1959)
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Paul Bryant
Jan 15, 2013 Paul Bryant marked it as assorted-rants-about-stuff
I did some anthropological field work a few years ago right in my own house. My daughter Georgia (then aged 9) and her friend Megan were there and they were in the garden doing some complicated clapping rhymes. I got them to tell me what the words were and I wrote down a few of them just like folk song collector would, so here are my favourites (I wonder if the Opies would immediately recognise them). So these are chanted in unison, not sung, whilst performing various stylised clapping and hand ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Chelsey rated it liked it
If you read my book reviews you’re probably going to get some odd ones in here. I’m interesting like that.

This book caught my eye…. No, actually it found me, walking past the shelves that are never looked at in the library, the ones I past while walking from the computers in the back, the ones that people only use when the main ones are full. Don’t ask me why I pulled it off the shelves, but upon flipping through it I knew that if I didn’t check it out I’d end up being late for class, and I am t
Jun 23, 2016 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LORE AND LANGUAGE OF SCHOOLCHILDREN is one of two books I found about out while doing late-night Wikipedia searches on a random rhyme I remembered from when I was a kid. Being a lover of history (and also fond of childhood), I couldn't pass this up. While this was written even before my dad, I found that I recognized a good deal of the rhymes and superstitions detailed inside. My favorite parts were the first several chapters, which dealt with the kinds of juvenile rhymes I was looking for, as w ...more
Aug 05, 2007 Temaris rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in how children's minds work, and the world of childhood.
I have been wanting to read this book for years, and this coloured my reading experience. b The authors did not appear to be quite sure whether they wanted to write a discursive anthro text about the tribes and customs of children in Britain, or a careful, fully cited field report. Thismakes for a cluttered read, sometimes swamped with details and authorities,sometimes making a wseeping statement with no backgroundinformation.

It's a fascinating book nonetheless. The authors have mostly gone for
Feb 17, 2013 Cynthisa marked it as to-read
What's so fascinating about this topic is that it is TRANSMITTED culture. That is, culture passed from child to child, rather than from one's parents, family, religion, etc. This type of tradition occurs strongly in American Deaf communities too. (Because most deaf children are born into hearing families, the child isn't exposed to Deaf culture until going off to a resident school for the deaf.) The major emphasis on "mainstreaming" deaf kids into hearing classrooms has lead to an erosion of Dea ...more
Ed Skoog
In the 1950s, folkorists Iona & Peter Opie listened to the songs and chants of the playgrounds of Great Britain, and compiled them in an indispensable study recently re-issued by the equally indispensable NYRB classics imprint (with an introduction by Maria Warner, whose Phantasmagoria is one of my favorite books of 2007). When I get too confused or excited by the arguments of and about contemporary poetry (great articles about which in the new PMLA), and need to find somewhere to start over ...more
Oct 20, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
I spent hours poring over this book as a child. Childhood was acknowledged and granted the importance it was due. I felt part of a stream of generations, spread far and wide, learning and passing on secrets and a way of life from one generation to the next.
David Gross
Jun 12, 2007 David Gross rated it it was amazing
This book traces slang, game rules, social conventions, superstitions, rhymes, and jokes of schoolchildren in the British isles across generations, making observations as to how this remarkably stable and fertile memetic ecosystem behaves.
Jun 06, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it
Found the book through an aunt who taught first grade. Oral traditions are fascinating & we too rarely investigate children's rich internal lives.
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Iona Archibald Opie is a folklorist of children's literature and verse.
More about Iona Opie...

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“If you can't go to Hollywood
You don't have to cry;
Clark Gable is good looking
But so am I.”
“Daisy, Daisy, the coppers are after you,
If they catch you they'll give you a month or two,
They'll tie you up with wi-er
Behind the Black Mari-er,
So ring your bell
And pedal like hell
On a bicycle made for two.”
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