Graveyard Shift

The Creepiest Nursery Rhymes That Shouldn't Be Read to Kids  

Christopher Shultz
8.6k votes 1.7k voters 114.2k views 18 items

List Rules Vote up the nursery rhymes that still give you nightmares

The sound of children singing alone can be quite scary (see the Poltergeist main theme, or the "1-2 Freddy's coming for you" song from A Nightmare on Elm Street), but when coupled with certain weird and creepy nursery rhymes, the shudder factor rises exponentially. Let's take a closer look at some of these disturbing nursery rhymes, and perhaps you'll think twice before teaching them to your kids.

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Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Creepiest Nursery Rhymes That Shouldn't Be Read to Kids
Photo: Public Domain

Take a look at the lyrics to this one:  

"Peter, Peter pumpkin eater, 
Had a wife but couldn't keep her; 
He put her in a pumpkin shell 
And there he kept her very well. 

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater, 
Had another and didn't love her; 
Peter learned to read and spell, 
And then he loved her very well."  

Okay, so it's established that Peter likes to eat pumpkins, right? So, his wife wants to leave him. Okay. What does he do? He puts her in a pumpkin shell, where he keeps her quite well. Does this mean he eats her?  

Even if the rhyme doesn't suggest cannibalism, it does state that Peter imprisons his wife when she attempts to get away from him (probably because he's spending all their money on pumpkins). That's pretty messed up.
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6
What Are Little Boys and Girls Made Of?
What Are Little Boys and Girls... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Creepiest Nursery Rhymes That Shouldn't Be Read to Kids
Photo: Public Domain

Boys are made of "snips and snails and puppy dog tails." Girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice."

What are they made of? Food.  

Not only is the rhyme advocating eating children, it's suggesting that boys are partially made of puppy's severed tails, which are okay to eat as well.

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7
Georgie Porgie
Georgie Porgie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Creepiest Nursery Rhymes That Shouldn't Be Read to Kids
Photo: Public Domain

Everyone knows these words, right?  

"Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie, 
Kissed the girls and made them cry, 
When the boys came out to play, 

Georgie Porgie ran away."

Oh, that rascal, Georgie - stealing unprovoked kisses from unsuspecting girls and running from the other boys, leaving the girls to cry in trauma and distress.  Underpinnings of molestation aside, this rhyme might also allude to King Charles II, a man deemed "too randy to rule" by BBC History writers Don Jordan and Michael Walsh.  

See, old Charlie was basically the real-life Robert Baratheon, too busy snogging and diddling the ladies to care about leading his country. He even forced his own wife Catherine to appoint his mistress the official "Lady of the Bed-Chamber," allowing the woman free reign of the castle, provided she was on-call for Charles's sexual whims.  

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London Bridge Is Falling Down is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Creepiest Nursery Rhymes That Shouldn't Be Read to Kids
Photo: Public Domain

Among other theories, it is believed this beloved nursery rhyme and children's sing-along alludes to human sacrifice - the "watchman" in the extended lyrics serving as a living person walled into the bridge's supports  in order to ensure a sturdy, long-lasting structure."

"Set a man to watch all night,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair lady."
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