Literature helps children understand and realize their traditions awakening their interest in other cultures. For example, The Velveteen Rabbit begins with the description of Christmas morning, Williams mentions such important attributes of the traditional Christmas as stockings, tissue paper, and a great number of Christmas presents “There were other things in the stocking, nuts, and oranges and a toy engine, and chocolate almonds and a clockwork mouse […]” (1). Putting Christmas presents into a stocking is not typical for many other cultures. In this way, The Velveteen Rabbit can provoke an interesting discussion about the ways Christmas is celebrated in other countries. This will undoubtedly broaden the children’s outlook and help them learn more about world cultures.
The Velveteen Rabbit is a great example of a story that can make a child feel present in a fantasy world. Quite helpful here is personification because all the toys are presented in the story as being alive and having their personal qualities “[…] Some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon everyone else” (Williams 2). Personification helps the author to easily entice young readers into a fantasy world making children wonder how exactly their toys communicate with each other. This eliminates certain bounds between fantasy and reality, and reading becomes a magical intermediary between these two worlds.
The story under consideration abounds with moments that can evoke empathy among young readers. The first moment is when the Rabbit felt alone and was abandoned because the Boy had more expensive and interesting toys to play with. Another moment is when the real rabbits teased the Rabbit because he had no hind legs and could not jump. Finally, after the Boy had recovered from scarlet fever, the doctor recommended burning all his old toys and, especially, the Rabbit “And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground” (Williams 16). This may help children realize how their actions can hurt somebody else’s feelings, as well as can make them more sympathetic and kind.
Reading is one of the best activities for stimulating children’s cognitive development. The matter is that children’s stories present new information in an interesting way that does not make children feel like they are being taught. They perceive it as fun and easily absorb new facts about the world that surrounds them. For instance, children can learn from The Velveteen Rabbit that there are four seasons of the year. Williams describes some of them using associations (e.g. winter and Christmas, summer and the seaside). This significantly facilitates remembering all the seasons of the year. Moreover, the readers learn that real rabbits live in burrows and their hind legs help them jump high (Williams 6). While adult readers might not even turn attention to this information, it is simply invaluable for young children.
Quite often, reading is the only way to make some children remain still and silent for a while. A captivating story can help to promote concentration and calm the child down. There is hardly a child that will wish to close The Velveteen Rabbit at the moment when the Bunny first met the real rabbits or when it was to be burnt by the gardener. As the child grows up and stories get longer, the attention span eventually expands, which allows keeping the child to concentrate for quite a long period. Thus, reading should be the number one activity for fidgety or hyperactive children.
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