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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Nursery Rhymes: Sweet Bonding Tools or Insidious Anti-Animal Propaganda?

When my son was a couple of weeks old, I began to panic because, in my sleep-deprived state, I hadn’t yet started actively encouraging his intellectual development. If he’s going to start playing Trivial Pursuit on Friday nights with Mom and Dad, I’d better get going on the early learning, right?



So, I went out and bought a couple of books, including one of nursery rhymes (subtitled A Crash Course in 80 Nursery Rhymes for Clueless Moms and Dads) that came with an accompanying CD (funsies!). I kinda knew “Itsy Bitsy Spider”—about a strong, resilient spider who beats the odds to climb up the water spout—and “This Old Man,” who gives his dog a bone, but little did I know of the horrors hidden in many of the cutesy verses sung by generations of parents to their children.


Cases-in-point: “Alouette”—a pleasant ditty I learned to play on the piano in elementary school. But translated from the French? It’s about plucking a pheasant in preparation for dinner! Then there’s “To Market, to Market to Buy a Fat Pig” (yikes!); a farmer’s wife cuts the tails off “Three Blind Mice”; if you “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” you’ll condemn 24 blackbirds to death baked inside a pie; and “Old Mother Hubbard’s” dog starves to death. At least the black sheep is asked for his wool, instead of having it stolen!


Happily, there are some animal-friendly alternatives (kiddies can go “to market, to market, to buy a ripe plum”), but if they aren’t readily available, you can always improvise on the fly (“this little piggy ate tofu”!). The point is, keep an eye out for opportunities to be kind while you’re teaching your kids to be creative. I leave you with the words of the wonderful little Spanish lullaby “Pio, Pio, Pio” (which is also the chorus sung by baby chicks) translated into English:

The baby chicks say, “Pio, pio, pio,”


Whenever they are hungry


Whenever they are chilly.


Then hens look for corn and wheat


For the baby chicks. “Pio, pio, pio.”


They give them food


And keep them warm


For the baby chicks. “Pio, pio, pio.”


Cute, huh? For more information on chickens, please read this.

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  • melissa says:

    ya most all nursery rules are creepy and very disturbing. But mother huberd went to her cubberd to get the dog a bone.. She was trying to feed the dog instead of herself! I like that one!

  • Anita50882 says:

    I loved this. I have to say, though, that if you take the time to notice, nursery rhymes are also very violent to people. Jack broke his head(crown)falling down a hill, rock-a-bye baby also fell, probably to it’s death, and don’t get me started on the ever-creepy “ring around the rosie” which is also about death(ashes, we all fall down).
    The ones I grew up with in Brazil are even worse. The most popular lullaby there is “boi da cara preta” which is about asking a black bull to kidnap a scared baby. Weird. who comes up with this stuff??? I think we should make some veggie-earth-life friendly lullabies. We should have a contest or something, and get people to write some good ones.