This is the reason why Baa Baa Black Sheep is being black listed.

The one word in the classic nursery rhyme that has child care centres concerned.

Nursery rhymes and songs, for centuries, been used to encourage children to talk and piece sounds together. You probably still have some familiar ones rattling around in your head from when you were a child yourself.

So if Baa, Baa, Black Sheep is one that you particularly favoured, I’m sorry, but I’m about to bring your world crashing down.

Recently some childcare centres in Melbourne have deemed the classic nursery rhyme to be racist. That’s right, racist. Lyrics to the song have even been changed because of the racial connotation associated with a “black” sheep.

This might soon be a whole lot more common.

So what do teachers do with the rhyme instead? “We try to introduce a variety of sheep,” says Celine Pieterse, co-ordinator of Malvern East’s Central Park Child Care. In other words, children are encouraged to pick any coloured sheep they like. Whether it be pink, blue or any other colour in the rainbow.

Think this is political correctness gone mad? Well so did lots of other parents, with one mother telling The Herald Sun, “What ignorance. The rhyme has nothing to do with race.”

But as far as history goes, Baa, Baa, Black Sheep isn’t the only kids’ rhyme that’s come under fire for being racist. Check out these other classics:

1. Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe.

The words go like this:

"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,/Catch a nigger by the toe./If he hollers, let him go,/Eeny, meeny, miny, moe."

Well at least, that’s the original, "nigger" was later replaced by tiger.

The original character in this rhyme was replaced with a tiger.

2. Bowl of Cherries/Pick a Bale of Cotton.

The words go like this:

"Gonna jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. Gotta jump down, turn around, Oh, Lordie, pick a bale a day."

The song is known to make a joke of conditions for American slaves.


3. Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.

Written by Rolf Harris, you probably sung this one at school.

But do you remember this verse?

"Let me Abos go loose, Lou/Let me Abos go loose/They’re of no further use, Lou/So let me Abos go loose."

Rolf later apologised for the lyrics, which shamed Aboriginal people for their misfortune in Australia.

The original cover art for Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.

4. Jimmy Crack Corn.

The words go like this:

"Ol' massa's gone and I'll let him rest/They say all things are for the best/ But I'll never forget 'til the day I die…"

The song is actually about a slave whose master has died. In this part of the song the slave mourns for him.

5. Camptown Race.

These are the original lyrics:

"De Camptown ladies sing dis song — Doo-dah! Doo-dah!/ I come down dah wid my hat caved in — Doo-dah! Doo-dah!/ I go back home wid a pocket full of tin -- Oh! Doo-dah day!"

The writer of this song, Stephen Foster, makes fun of black speech and purposely tried to make the lyrics sound uneducated.

An adaptation of Camptown Race for children.

6. Oh Susanna.

These are the original lyrics:

"It rain’d all night de day I left, De wedder it was dry, The sun so hot I froze to def."

The character of this song is an African American slave who is depicted as dumb and naïve.

7. Short’nin Bread.

These are the original lyrics:

"Two little Nigger lyin’ in bed/One of ‘em sick an’ de odder mos’ dead/Call for de doctor an’ de doctor said/Feed dem darkes on short'nin bread/Mammy's little baby loves short'nin short'nin/Mammy's little baby loves short'nin bread."

"Mammy" was later replace by mama and "nigger"and "darkie" were replaced with children.

So there you have it. Childhood. Ruined.

Would you sing any of these nursery rhymes to your children?

Listen: The terrible true meaning of This Little Piggy went to market. From the Mamamia Out Loud podcast.

Like this? Try these:

These classic kids' books are actually a bit disturbing.

This is how to make your kid fall in love with reading.