The Velveeteen Rabbit

Have you found any really good books to read to your children lately? I have. Pastor Chuck Swindoll mentioned this book in a sermon when he was talking about Mom’s. The book was written in the 1920’s. It’s a story that little kids understand but has a meaning that grownups can think about. It has fantasy in it where the young readers can use their imagination. The pictures drawn with the original book aren’t beautifully detailed so the book is a bit unsuspecting in that it is a classic and one you want to keep and reread several times. The book begins with a Christmas scene. But as I looked it up on the internet, time and time again it had been made into a play for Easter. In fact the entire book is on the internet. I found it under the first entry on Yahoo when I typed in The Velveteen Rabbit. If you wanted to read it as a bedtime story it would take about a week to read aloud. But you won’t regret reading. In fact, I would like to study the writer’s details of this book and remember them just for when I want to write for children.
Here’s a passage from the book. It talks about being real. The toys are put away for the night and the new Velveeten rabbit is having a discussion with the oldest toy, the skin horse:


Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

1 Comment

  1. Becky

    January 7, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    I heard that sermon,too. Aren’t Swindoll’s children older? I thought the part about being real was appropriate to all stages of child development. Being a real person involves being broken sometimes, too. I never read that book to my kids (or at all), but I will read it to my grandsons.

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