A Story From: England
Read Time: ["3 to 5mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.
The Velveteen Rabbit-"Early Reader" English Stories for Kids
In a boy’s toy box there lived a soft and plushy Velveteen Rabbit. For a short time, the boy played with Velveteen Rabbit, but that was before brighter toys came along. Some of these toys could move if you pushed a button. Others would bounce high if thrown in the air.
Velveteen Rabbit had no button to make it move. If thrown in the air, Velveteen Rabbit would only fall softly to the floor. All the other toys in the toy box talked with pride about the fine things they could do. And when Velveteen Rabbit was with them, there was not much to say.
Only one other toy in the toy box was like Velveteen Rabbit. Skin Horse was a soft, plushy toy. But he was old. Most of his hair had been worn away a long time ago, and he had only one eye left. Skin Horse said to Velveteen Rabbit, “Soft toys like us are lucky because we can get loved the most. And when soft toys are loved enough, we can become Real.”
“What is Real?” said Velveteen Rabbit.
“It is when you can move when you want to move. When you are Real, if you are loved, you can show your love back.”
"When soft toys are loved enough, we can become Real."
This all sounded fine to Velveteen Rabbit. But how could that ever happen as long as Velveteen Rabbit was stuck in the toy box?
One day Nana, who took care of the boy, flew open the lid of the toy box. She said in a busy tone, “That boy’s soft doggie is missing, so I must find something else!” In a second, Velveteen Rabbit was plopped down onto the bed with the boy.
This began a very happy time for Velveteen Rabbit. Each night after that, the boy would hold Velveteen Rabbit close in his arms all night long. Early in the morning, the boy would show Velveteen Rabbit how to make rabbit holes under the sheets. If the boy went outside to a picnic, or a park, Velveteen Rabbit would have fun at the outing together.
After awhile, with the hugging and holding, much of Velveteen Rabbit’s fur got matted down. Its pink nose grew less pink with all the boy’s kissing. But Velveteen Rabbit did not care. It was happy.
In a second, Velveteen Rabbit was plopped down onto the bed with the boy.
One day the boy became ill. His forehead was very hot. The doctor came, and Nana walked back and forth in fear. Day after day, the boy stayed in bed. Velveteen Rabbit remembered Skin Horse from the toy box, and the many bright colors and the proud talk back there. There was nothing for Velveteen Rabbit to do but to stay in bed in those long days.
Then at last, the boy got better. Such joy in the house! The doctor said the boy must go to the shore. How wonderful! thought Velveteen Rabbit. Many times the boy had talked with glee about the shore and its wide sands and big blue ocean.
“What about this old bunny?” Nana asked the doctor.
“That old thing?” said the doctor. “It’s full of scarlet fever germs. Burn it at once! Get him a new bunny.”
So Velveteen Rabbit was thrown into a sack along with the boys bed sheets and old clothes and a lot of junk, and the sack was carried to the back yard. There the gardener was to burn the whole thing.
"That old thing?" said the doctor. "Burn it at once!"
But the gardener was too busy with picking the beans and peas before nightfall, so he left the sack behind. “I will take care of it tomorrow,” he said. The sack was not tied at the top, and Velveteen Rabbit fell out. The next day when the gardener picked up the sack to take it away to be burned, Velveteen Rabbit was left behind.
Then it started to rain. Oh, how sad it was for Velveteen Rabbit! So far from the boy, never again to be nice and cozy together. And a tear fell from Velveteen Rabbit’s eye, over his cheek, and it fell onto the grass.
Just then, at the spot where the tear fell, a flower grew up all at once. The bud of the flower opened and there was a Fairy.
“Little Rabbit,” said the Fairy. “Do you know who I am?”
“I wish I did,” said Velveteen Rabbit.
“I am the Fairy that takes care of the toys that were well loved.” By then, Velveteen Rabbit was shabby and gray. The boy had loved off all of its whiskers. The pink lining in the ears had long turned grey, and its brown spots were mostly faded.
"Little Rabbit," said the Fairy. "Do you know who I am?"
“It is time now for me to make you Real,” said the Fairy.
“I think I remember Real,” said Velveteen Rabbit. Now, what was it Skin Horse had said? Ah yes, Velveteen Rabbit remembered, when you are Real you can move when you want to move. And if you are loved, you can love back.
With one touch of the Fairy’s arm, Velveteen Rabbit felt different. Tickly. All of a sudden, each one of its two legs sewn together tight, could move! A fly landed on Velveteen Rabbit’s head and it was itchy. Quick as a wink, that foot was up at the Velveteen Rabbit’s head to scratch it.
“So this is being Real!” said Velveteen Rabbit. “I can move when I want to move!”
“I will take you to make some new friends,” said the Fairy. And the Fairy took Velveteen Rabbit where several rabbits ran and hopped about. Soon they were all great friends.
With one touch of the Fairy's arm, Velveteen Rabbit felt different.
One day, the boy went to the back yard to play, near the woods. A few rabbits stepped carefully to the boy. One rabbit was brown all over, and another rabbit was all white. But a third rabbit had brown spots, most of them faded.
The boy thought, "Why, this rabbit looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!"
What he didn't know was that it was his own Bunny, come back to see the boy. For he was the reason the Velveteen Rabbit had become Real.
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This story has been adapted from "The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real)" written by Margery Williams (also known as Margery Williams Bianco) and illustrated by William Nicholson (1922). It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit's desire to become real through the love of his owner.