Classic Nursery Rhymes

A Collection of Classic English and American Nursery Rhymes

Close up mother and son reading book
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Most people’s first experience of poems comes in the form of nursery rhymes—the lullabyes, counting games, riddles and rhymed fables that introduce us to the rhythmic, mnemonic, allegorical uses of language in songs sung to us by our mothers. We can trace the original authors of only a few of these poems—most of them have been handed down from mother to child for generations, and were only recorded in print in collections long after their first appearance in the language (the dates below indicate first known publication).

Here are a few of the best-known English and American nursery rhymes:

  • “Jack Sprat” (1639)
  • “Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker’s Man” (1698)
  • “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” (1744)
  • “Hickory, Dickory Dock” (1744)
  • “Ladybug, Ladybug” (c. 1744)
  • “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” (c. 1744)
  • “This Is the House That Jack Built” (1755)
  • “Jack and Jill” (1760s)
  • “This Little Piggy” (1760)
  • “Simple Simon” (1764)
  • “Little Jack Horner” (1764)
  • “Hey Diddle Diddle” (1765)
  • “I Had a Little Nut Tree” (1797)
  • “Hush, Little Baby,” “The Mockingbird Song” (traditional, probably 18th century)
  • “Rock-a-bye Baby” (1805)
  • “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” (1805)
  • “Little Miss Muffet” (1805)
  • “Old Mother Hubbard” (1805)
  • “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” by Jane Taylor (1806)
  • “Little Bo Peep” (1810)
  • “Humpty Dumpty” (1810)
  • “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by Sarah Josepha Hale (1830)
  • “Monday’s Child” (1838)
  • “Wee Willie Winkie” by William Miller (1841)
  • “Ring Around the Rosie” (1881)
  • “Star Light, Star Bright” (1890s)
  • “This Old Man” (1906)
  • “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” (1910)