Mum's shocking nursery rhyme find outrages parents: 'That's grim'

Are our childhood favourites more sinister than we realised?

captino. Photo: Facebook
A disturbing nursery rhyme has been discovered online. Photo: Facebook

Trigger warning: Sensitive content regarding child death.

An unsuspecting parent has stumbled upon a chilling discovery while reading a nursery rhyme from their child's library book, sparking a heated debate about the appropriateness of traditional children's literature in today's world.

"Reading my daughter a poem from her library book and came across this one," the woman said to the Family Facebook group, sharing a snap of the offending poem. "I've not heard it before but it left her asking a lot of questions."


The poem in question, titled 'I Had a Little Brother,' unfolds with eerie simplicity:

I had a little brother,

His name was Tiny Tim,

I put him in a bath tub,

To teach him how to swim.

He drank up all the water,

He ate up all the soap,

He died last night

With a bubble in his throat.

In came the doctor,

In came the nurse,

In came the lady

With the alligator purse.

"Dead," said the doctor,

"Dead," said the nurse,

"Dead," said the lady

With the alligator purse.

Out went the doctor,

Out went the nurse,

Out went the lady

With the alligator purse.

The response on social media was swift and varied; while some were appalled by the blunt nature of the rhyme, others brushed it off as a nod to darker historical realities.

"That's grim for a kids' reading book," remarked one, echoing the collective shock.

"A lot of nursery rhymes are actually pretty dark," chimed in another, setting the tone for an onslaught of revelations about seemingly innocent childhood rhymes.

Other group members shared morbid nursery stories fro their own collections. Photo: Facebook
Other group members shared morbid nursery stories from their own collections. Photo: Facebook

"I can't do Mary Mary Quite Contrary since finding out it's about Queen Mary torturing and killing Protestants!" divulged one, pointing out the sinister undertones of familiar verses.

"They nearly all are!" affirmed someone else. "Humpty Dumpty is about someone getting their head cut off! Ring a Ring o' Roses is about the Black Death!"

"Even the original Grimm's fairy tales like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are horrific," added another, widening the lens to encompass the broader realm of children's storytelling.

Amidst the chatter, speculation arose regarding the origins of the poem, with many positing that it could be an outdated rendition of a nursery rhyme that has since been revised to suit modern sensibilities.

"Must be from the 80s," mused one, suggesting, "It's since changed to 'I had a little turtle.'"

Others agreed, noting the stark contrast between the original and its updated counterpart, which simply tucks the turtle into bed without the grim demise.

Despite the collective shock and dismay, some voices chimed in to offer an alternate view.

"I guess in years gone by kids died all the time, and nursery rhymes were a way to help siblings process it. Or to tell them not to drown their siblings?" speculated one commentator.

And then there were those who shrugged it off entirely, citing today's so-called "molly coddled" society. "Kids can't be protected from death. Today's society has become so soft!" lamented one.


"Most fairy tales involved death, murder, mutilation, child neglect, abandonment, and cruelty. This is rather tame, to be honest," wrote another.

"Kids these days are unfortunately exposed to much worse than this!" quipped a third.

So whether you find them appalling or dismiss them as relics of a bygone era, one thing's for sure: the world of nursery rhymes is far darker than you may have imagined.

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