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Shiver me timbers!

Booktrust is controversially  in the papers and on the news today with what I think is a really interesting discussion. Their Bookstart project has sent out song sheets for their baby bounce and rhyme sessions and these have caused a considerable stir amongst parents and the press alike.

I caught a glimpse at the arguments on both the BBC news this morning and The Wright Stuff. As you may know the theme for National Bookstart day last year was Pirates Ahoy! and so the song sheets being used were themed to suit. Basically, in keeping with pirate theme Bookstart changed the lyrics of “What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor” to a more politically correct version, “What shall we do with the Grumpy Pirate”.

The songs lyrics courtesy of The Sun online

Personally I think it was unnecessary to change the lyrics. If they were concerned about the choice of song, it may have been better to use a different rhyme or create something entirely new. It could easily be argued that pirates are even more of a tricky subject than drunken sailors and so if Bookstart wanted to be terribly PC about it, they shouldn’t have either. But where’s the fun in that?!

It’s easy though to criticise them. What also needs to be understood is that there is a lot of pressure on schemes such as this to please all audiences and not offend. While everybody is up in arms about the sanitisation of this classic and historical rhyme, I can guarantee that if Booktrust had printed the original, they still would have some backlash of a different kind.

To hear further discussion take a listen to Vanessa Feltz’s show on BBC iplayer. Lots of newspapers are covering the story also, try The Sun, The Daily Mail or The Telegraph for a bit more gossip.

On the up side of this rather serious argument, Milo seems to have enjoyed me singing “What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor” in a dodgy pirate voice all day. For some of your own pirate talking fun, take a look here.


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