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Play is a natural human activity that blossoms in social settings. Children create games, songs, and activities on their own and pass their play on to siblings, friends, or neighbors. Children’s lore is also transmitted by elders and parents, often as a form of education and cultural transmission.

Children’s lore is particularly valuable in environments with a strong reliance on oral tradition—such as in many precolonial African societies, as well as during the period of enslavement, when many Africans were forbidden formal education. As with most unlettered folks, the lore of children became their learning tool as well as entertainment.

This entry describes the place of children’s game songs in African American folklore.

African Retentions in Children’s Lore

African cultural innovations and retentions ...

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