The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren
by Iona and Peter Opie, introduction by Marina Warner
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 life the rites and rhymes, jokes and jeers, laws, games, and secret spells of what has been called “the greatest of savage tribes, and the only one which shows no signs of dying out.”
As well as being a valuable social study, it is one of the most exhilarating anthologies of our day.
— The Times Literary Supplement
Assiduous folklorists, they [the Opies] have been the Brothers Grimm of our times; and their studies have always been enlivened by a characteristic mixture of childish curiosity and academic rigor, humor and seriousness.
— Sunday Financial Times
This comprehensive work of wit, charm, and sound scholarship...
— The New York Times
The Opies, professors of literature and essentially folklorists, did something path-breaking: they observed children and took their play seriously...The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren reminds us that children are their own beings who create and navigate complicated social worlds, and the way they do so is worthy of respect and understanding.
—Hilary Levey Friedman, Brain, Child Magazine