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Childlore is the folklore or folk culture of children and young people. It includes, for example, rhymes and games played in the school playground. The best known researchers of the field were Peter and Iona Opie.[citation needed]

The subject matter of childlore includes the traditions of children between the ages of about 6 and 15 such as games, riddles, rhymes, jokes, pranks, superstitions, magical practices, wit, lyrics, guile, epithets, nicknames, torments, parody, oral legislation, seasonal customs, tortures, obscenities, codes, etc.[1] as well as individual activities such as solitary play, daydreaming, fantasies, imaginary companions and heroes, collections, scrapbooks, model worlds, comic reading, mass media interests, dramatizations, stories, art, etc.[1]

As a branch of folklore, childlore is concerned with those activities which are learned and passed on by children to other children. The stories and games taught by adults to children are not considered childlore except insofar as the children adapt and make them their own. In western culture most folklorists are concerned with children after they join their peers in elementary school or kindergarten. The traditions of childhood generally stop after the child enters intermediate school, which coincides with puberty and adolescence.[2]

Opie and Opie demonstrate that the culture of children is quite distinctive and is as unnoticed by the sophisticated world, and quite as little affected by it.[citation needed]

Opie stated that the words of one game (Buck buck) had survived from the time of Nero.[3] The conservatism of childlore contrasts with the way adult folklore is rapidly modified to fit changing circumstances.[citation needed]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Sutton-Smith 1970:1–8.
  2. ^ Grider 1980:159–160
  3. ^ Opie: 1987.


  • Grider, Sylvia Ann. The Study of Children's Folklore. Western Folklore 39.3, Children's Folklore (1980): 159–69.
  • Mendoza, Vicente T. Lirica Infantil De Mexico. Letras Mexicanas. 2a ed. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1980
  • Opie, Iona Archibald, and Peter Opie. The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. Trans. Peter Opie. Oxford Paperbacks. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Sutton-Smith, Brian. Psychology of Childlore: The Triviality Barrier. Western Folklore 29.1 (1970): 1–8.

Further readingEdit

  • Bronner, Simon J. (1988). American Children's Folklore. Little Rock, AR: August House. ISBN 0-87483-068-0. OCLC 18322123.
  • Sutton-Smith, Brian; Mechling, Jay; Johnson, Thomas W.; McMahon, Felicia R., eds. (1999). Children's folklore : a source book. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press. ISBN 0-87421-280-4. OCLC 916979751.
  • Tucker, Elizabeth (2008). Children's Folklore : A handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-31334-189-3. OCLC 226357704.