Wait a Second…What? Some Nursery Rhymes are Questionable

I was reading Jacob some nursery rhymes from this book:

nursey rhyme book

Seems cute right? It’s filled with staples like the Incy Wincy Spider and Little Bo-Peep. And it even has some favourites like The Cat and the Fiddle.

Now, I remember singing some of these rhymes as a child and never questioning the words. For example, Rock-a-Bye Baby: “When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.” Hmmmm. I have since changed the words to: “And Mom will catch baby, cradle and all.” Maybe I’ll resort back to the original story on future camping trips when I want to scare the kids.

Then I came across some even more weird ones. Like The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Again, I remember hearing this story numerous times as a kid, but today, this is my reaction to it:

In case you haven’t read the original nursery rhyme, let me refresh your memory. Here is how it is written in this particular book:

There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe
She had so many children
She didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth
Without any bread;
She whipped them all soundly
And put them to bed.

How heart-warming right? Perfect story for the kid who resists bedtime. Obviously a lot of old children’s literature was written to help teach kids about manners and behaving. I get that. But it still shocks me as I read it out loud to Jacob. My voice starts off very animated and perky, but by the time I’m reading “without any bread” I’m slowing down, my voice becomes more hushed, and I find myself not wanting to finish because I can sense what’s coming…the whipping!

Then there’s Ladybird, Ladybird; about a ladybug:

Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home,
Your house is on fire and
Your children are gone,
All except one
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

What? What? WHAT? I have no words. Just this other face:


6 thoughts on “Wait a Second…What? Some Nursery Rhymes are Questionable

  1. Oh, my. See, if you’d asked me three minutes ago if I remembered these, I’d have said yes. But the truth would have been . . . I remember the first couple of lines. o.O

  2. This reminds me of the first time I heard someone say, “Where in the rhyme does it say that Humpty Dumpty was an egg?”

  3. My mother got my daughter an anthology of nursery rhymes. We have about five such books, but the rhymes in this one are weird versions of the ones I’m familiar with:
    Three men in a tub,
    And how do you think they got there?
    The butcher, the baker,
    The candlestick maker,
    They all jumped out of a rotten potato,
    Twas enough to make a man stare.

    Seriously. This is what the book says. What’s this potato business??

    1. Hahahahaaaaa! That’s GREAT! It’s so weird how these nursery rhymes made it through many filters before being published and NO ONE said: “Wait a sec, what??”

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