FOLK RHYMES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Edited by Evelyn Neaman
Volume 21 Number 4
What a wonderful addition to any person's life, whether borrowed from a library or purchased from a store. Folk Rhymes from Around the World is part of an anti-racist education program developed by the Alternatives to Racism Society supported by a collaboration between the ministries of Education and Multiculturalism in British Columbia.
Evelyn Neaman has researched and then classified these rhymes into two sections: "Folk Rhymes for Every Day" and "Folk Rhymes from Many Places." These sections are further divided using a variety of other categories, e.g., "Tongue Twisters," "Rhyming Riddles," "Skipping Rhymes." For Part II, Neaman conducted interviews with people representing over thirty different countries and heritages.
She transcribes each rhyme in three ways. The original language is printed in red to emphasize the importance of the origins. A translation is provided with a brief historical anecdote about the rhyme. A transliteration allows the reader the wonderful opportunity to "say" the chant in the original language. Thus, the harmony of the language and the pride of those sharing the same ethnicity, or memories, blend in mutual support.
At first, I was concerned that the illustrations, masterfully created by Sally Davies, lacked colour. However, the red script does highlight the original language, and the black-and-white sketches evoke the sense of play and pleasure generated by the rhymes. (I still feel a few colour plates would further enhance this book!)
The notes within this book are excellent. They "speak" to the reader with clear precision and no sense of condescension. In fact, in the introduction Neaman clearly, and yet simply, allows us to see her passion for language and her genuine interest in her people.
The teacher's guide is like icing on a cake. It is packed with practical ideas for any classroom. These ideas could be used within a family setting for all wishing to research their family or discuss and respect their heritage. The ideas were field tested in a grade 3 classroom but they could be adapted to many levels. There are reproducible masters for learning outcomes and for a variety of student-related activities to support our efforts in developing anti-racist curricula. Folk Rhymes from Around the World is an absolute must for everyone.
Judy Coulman is a teacher-librarian in Guelph, Ontario.
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