Songs, songs, songs!

Songs are an amazing kind of oral history. If you grow up in the US, you learn a canon of songs by some kind of strange osmosis. At some point, my kids started singing songs they learned from school and were shocked when I knew all the words. Of course I knew all the words, these are songs I learned as a kid. If you interact with young kids, you probably sing a LOT of songs. If they hang out with childcare providers or in kid-friendly spaces, they probably sing a lot of songs.

And, wow, if you think books are gendered, songs are even worse. Nearly every song I can think of with an option to use a pronoun or descriptor uses he or man or boy. Although there is a page about books on this website, I realized that maybe it should be about songs too. For now, I’m going to turn this into a blog post. Maybe even easier than changing books is changing songs. Because we already change them all the time and there are already lots of different versions of songs over time and from different regions.

Below is an annotated song book. I also created a printable version of these songs to make it easier. Check them out -- print it! Sing it with kids! And then send me a video of you or just some feedback about how it went. Share it with others!

BINGO: Bingo and the farmer don't have to always be male. Old MacDonald: Again, farmer doesn't have to always be male. It's Raining, It's Pouring: Wikipedia showed an example with three verses: old man, old woman, and children. Ants Go Marching: One ant gets a pronoun--mix it up!
5 Little Monkeys: My family changes the children's pronouns as well as the parent names. Where is Thumbkin: Instead of sir, use "now" for that syllable. Also middle and ringie are options for the other fingers. Wheels on the Bus: Endless opportunities with this one. Avoid doing gendered stereotypical things like Mommies shhh-ing. This Old Man: Man can be person or woman to mix it up.


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