Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I’ll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you’ll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you’ll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.



Nursery Rhymes

Consider this from “Mother Goose Makeover: A Sign of the Times,” an essay written by Bruce Lansky in 2006:

I knew my children would love the charming names and language play—Peter Piper, Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary—and I knew the memorable rhythm and rhyme patterns would quickly find “parking places” in their brains, just as they had in mine.

But I couldn’t overlook the violent, scary, mean-spirited, or just plain weird aspects of many of the rhymes, so I eventually got out of the habit of reading Mother Goose to my children. When I talked to other parents about my experience with Mother Goose rhymes, I discovered I wasn’t alone. A few enjoyed passing on the traditional rhymes to their children, but a significant number either let their books gather dust on their bookshelves or revised the rhymes so their children would have positive bedtime-reading experiences.

For literature to live, it has to stand the test of time. Nursery rhymes have certainly been remembered and shared for generations, but I think they’re beginning to fall into disuse because parents are uncomfortable or bored with them.

Lansky also writes that he wanted “to give his children a world in which fairness, safety, and love were reliable undergirding.” In 2004 and 2006, he published two anthologies—Mary Had a Little Jam and Peter Peter Pizza-Eater-- of rewritten nursery rhymes.

Read the entire essay here.

Journal Entry: What nursery rhymes did you chant as a child? Why have--or haven’t—you shared them with your child? Then, pick one Mother Goose nursery rhyme and rewrite it with your child.


Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogeditor (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas!

Karna Converse is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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