Friday, May 27, 2011

I Took Him By the Left Leg and Threw Him Down the Stairs

That is a line in a nursery rhyme in one of the books my girls have--no joke.

Goosey Goosey Gander whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man who would not say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.
We skip that one. Actually, we skip quite a few. The girls, occasionally, wave at the skipped pages as we pass them by--maybe they want those pictures to get a little attention too. Regardless, it's pretty cute.

Awhile back MandyE brought up the use of the "f" word in a lot of children's books. Since reading her post, I've found myself using the word "round" instead "fat".

What did you think the "f" word was?

Maybe you think that's crazy; as one of the commenters to MandyE's post pointed out, "fat" is just an adjective. Granted. It is. Still--it's an adjective that I'd prefer our girls not use, right along with "stupid" and "dumb".


In the same spirit as MandyE's post, I've found myself much more aware of the words and messages that are in the books I read to the girls. Among other things, I've noticed a lot of violence, namely, in nursery rhymes:
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
Down will come baby, cradle and all.

Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men

Could not put Humpty together again.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the Knave full sore.
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more. 
The old woman living an a shoe beat her children and sent them to bed hungry.

We just change the the lyrics on that one:
She gave them some broth and pleny of bread,
Then kissed them all soundly and put them to bed.
While I realize, the girls just like the rhythm of the words, and aren't so much comprehending what the words mean. Still, I can't help but think about the day when they start asking questions about the words--I'd rather not have to explain some if it.

Has anyone else ever thought about this?


Lauren said...

I took a Children's Literature class in university, and I was SHOCKED to discover how dark children's lit really is. Especially the classic stories and nursery rhymes.

Wendy said...

I always substitute words in nursery rhymes especially "and down will come baby cradle and all." I say "But Mama will catch you, cradle and all." I want Ben and Emma to know even at this young age (18 months) that Mama and Papa will always be there to catch them if they "fall" and help them back up. I skip alot of nursery rhymns, too!

Aileen said...

My husband and I talk about it all the time! Have you ever read all the lyrics to Oh My Darling Clementine? Or My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean? It's shocking. I can't believe they are "classics."

Twinside Out said...

Didn't "Ring Around the Rosie" start off as a rhyme about the plague? *shudder*

I've noticed this too. There are a few books that we've been given, that we don't even read. I know it's too early for the kids to even understand what we're reading, but it still bothers me.