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The Velveteen Rabbit: Classic and Audio Editions

Updated on August 22, 2014

The Velveteen Rabbit: Love Makes You Real

The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a toy bunny that's rewarded for his faithfulness, for loving and being loved, but only after his fur has been worn off and he's become contaminated with scarlet fever germs. Once he was real to his child companion -- that in itself was an accomplishment -- but now, by fairy decree, he shall be real to everyone!

Many of us grew up with the story of The Velveteen Rabbit. Do we ever really outgrow it? I think it's a parable for the idealist in each of us. In addition to its 'big ideas', The Velveteen Rabbit has some mature humor. Now here's another great thing about this classic tale. It's public domain! That means we can all put our own spin on it -- and many of us already have.

I enjoyed recording this tale, and I hope you -- or some small person you're fond of -- enjoy listening. On this page, I've included my own audio reading of The Velveteen Rabbit, as well as some other themed goodies: videos to watch, books to buy, lesson plans for teachers, and thoughts to reflect on. (Yes, people have written some provocative blog posts about their memories of this rabbit's tale...)

If you're looking for a professional reading of The Velveteen rabbit, you can find a link, too.

And now, without further ado, let's get real!

The Velveteen Rabbit Audio

Listen to MP3 of The Velveteen Rabbit

Here's my audio read of The Velveteen Rabbit -- it's an mp3 version, hosted on Mediafire -- and one of the first things I recorded when I got my netbook and Logitech set (after years of not having a computer with a working sound system). You can download the story if you like.

Interested in reading the text yourself? To read The Project Gutenberg e-book, click the link.

If you want the hardcover edition -- or a DVD or bilingual version -- there are some links a bit later in the lens. But first, let's watch a play...

2013 Edition

Some books never go out of print, but they do go through lots and lots of editions. This is a 2013 edition. Not only does it feature lush and poignant new illustrations, it features lots of illustrations. You can even find it with a (fairly) classic velveteen rabbit toy.

The Velveteen Rabbit: Adapted for Stage - A Charming Play

The Velveteen Rabbit has been adapted for stage more than once, and some versions take more liberties than others. In this charming stage version of The Velveteen Rabbit, Nana is the young boy's grandmother and not merely his nursemaid. This play is true to the original in many ways. You will, however, find some added scenes, like one in which the young boy is scolded for making a mess when he should be in bed... well, until Nana realizes he has been making her a Valentine. Another small moment... another lesson in love.

You can catch some key scenes from the play version here. Scene 6 is really a series of scenes that show the developing relationship between the child and the toy. The boy -- unnamed in the original, but called James here -- develops his friendship with his velveteen rabbit across the spring and summer and eventually tells his Nana with some indignation that its not a toy, it's real.

You can use different adaptations to compare and contrast... or to inspire a young actor of your own.

The Velveteen Rabbit Discussion: Metaphor

Explore an Evocative Passage

The Velveteen Rabbit has extended metaphors on human behavior. You might consider this quote in a classroom setting:

"The mechanical toys were very poor, and looked down upon everyone else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real. The model boat, who had lived through two seasons and lost most of his paint, caught the tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to his rigging in technical terms."

Children can discuss this passage and then write about it in a journal.

Guiding questions: Are those toys bragging? What are they bragging about? Is what they are bragging about... real? Have you known anyone who acted like those mechanical toys?

A Real Rabbit - Doesn't it make you wonder?

Writing Prompt: What happened before (or after)?

Which Season?

He was given as a Christmas present... but he is a bunny! When do you read The Velveteen Rabbit?

What season do you associate with The Velveteen Rabbit?

Christmas

Christmas

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Easter

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Velveteen Rabbit Love Quote

"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 Little Rabbit?

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."

The Velveteen Rabbit Interactive App

Interactive storybooks and apps allow children to listen and read along -- or read alone when they're ready. Often they use abridged or slightly simplified versions of the text. Here are Velveteen Rabbit apps for two platforms (Android and Apple).

The Velveteen Rabbit: Musical Version

Watch the closing scenes of the musical edition, played by children. This version is true to the original -- but for the singing rabbit and fairy. You will recognize some of the more famous lines from the book -- like when the rabbit asks, but wasn't he real before.

You can also see how the costume designer has created a design that will go from "toy" -- just little humps to suggest legs -- to "real rabbit" with dancing, prancing legs.

The Classic Story: Choose Your Edition

As a public domain work, The Velveteen Rabbit appears in many forms. You can find it with its original illustrations. You can also buy it with full color illustrations and a deep crimson Christmas "Christmas Treasury" look. The words are altered and made accessible to younger readers. But this 'classic tale' is not a young readers' edition. The words are from another era -- but not the illustrations.

"Wasn't I Real before?" asked the little Rabbit.

"You were Real to the Boy," the Fairy said, "because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone."

Velveteen Rabbit Toy

Today's toy bunnies are more realistic looking than those of 1922 -- ah, but are they more real? A number of toy makers have sought to recreate -- or suggest -- the velveteen rabbit of yore. This one is perhaps my favorite. You will find four reviews for this toy on Amazon: one by the parent of a two-year-old, one by the parent of a six-year-old... and one by a husband. Who was it who cried upon receipt of the bunny? Not surprisingly, it was the adult woman.

The Velveteen Rabbit 10" Soft Toy
The Velveteen Rabbit 10" Soft Toy

Like the "real" velveteen rabbit, he has pink satin ears, brown and white spots, and (it appears) thread whiskers.

 

Velveteen Rabbit Memories...

Generations of children have loved this story. A few sensitive children, though, have been so upset by the progression of events that they apparently never made it through to the happy -- and meaningful -- conclusion.

Here is an interesting blog commentary on The Velveteen Rabbit and the nature of memory.

The Velveteen Rabbit is a story for discussion as well as reading. So share this beautiful story... and make sure your little one knows it has a happy ending.

A New Twist on a Classic Story - Video

Movie makers often take some liberties. This 2009 Christmas movie is only loosely based on the old tale. In this version, a little boy goes to stay with his grandmother and discovers a velveteen rabbit that his now deceased grandmother had bought for him, but never given. There are numerous plot differences, but it's still a warm-hearted family-friendly movie. You can compare and contrast -- or just enjoy a cozy evening watching.

Credits

The picture in the second module links to Alyssa's photostream on Flickr. I doctored that same photo up a bit and used it in the opening module. She has some more rabbit-coming-to-life pictures in her photo stream, but I couldn't use them. The story she has to tell is just too sad. Yes, The Velveteen Rabbit is an evocative story for adults, as well.

The picture of the real rabbit is from bluebirdsandteapots

It is under a creative commons share alike license.

Did you read the story as a child? Have your perceptions changed along the way?

Your Own Memories of The Velveteen Rabbit?

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    • KarenTBTEN profile image
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      KarenTBTEN 4 years ago

      @julia-j-bennett: Oh, I am sorry I did not see this comment before! One thing that can really help is to read a story in an expressive, animated voice. It's also good to start by making a connection -- like asking about a stuffed animal they have. They won't understand all the ideas in preschool, but they can enjoy it.

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      julia-j-bennett 4 years ago

      Hi I was wondering if somebody could help me, Im helping out in school this friday,I am holding a storytelling cple of hrs for primary 3/4 ages 5/6 and am thinking of reading this book as it is my favorite, My worry is they will not understand any ideas please as im starting to panic x

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      glutenallergy 5 years ago

      This is a story that I loved as a child (I still have the book my aunt and uncle gave me one year at Christmas) and that I have shared with my children. They have a CD of the story, read by Meryl Streep's calming voice, and with music by George Winston. They love it. There have been many nights were they've gone to sleep, lulled by this gentle story.

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      MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

      I have 3 copies of this timeless tale. I read them to the grand kids. This is a great book.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I adored "The Velveteen Rabbit" as a girl, and I loved all the memories this lens brought back. This is a timeless story that I've given as a gift many times. Thanks for such a fabulous lens!

    • vividviolet profile image

      vividviolet 5 years ago

      I LOVE those stories! (The plush animals are cute!)

    • TheFalconPress profile image

      The Falcon Press 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Another Velveteen Rabbit full color book and audio CD is the one performed by Meryl Streep with music by Grammy Award winner George Winston. Starbucks used to sell it. Nice lens.

    • profile image

      Miska29 5 years ago

      lovely

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I love rabbits and I have always loved this story! Blessed!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      The Velveteen Rabbit is a sweet story. Nice lens.

    • prosepine lm profile image

      prosepine lm 5 years ago

      Lovely!

    • jordanmilesbask profile image

      jordanmilesbask 5 years ago

      great stuff..nice lens.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Cute story and nice lens!! :)

    • Celticep profile image

      Celticep 5 years ago

      I've never read The Velveteen Rabbit, but I want to now! Thanks, great lens!

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 5 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • Scotties-Rock profile image

      Clairissa 5 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      A true classic story! Wonderful lens. Blessed!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 5 years ago

      The velveteen rabbit was tackled in class when I was younger. I do remember the story well because at that time, I had a stuffed rabbit that I used to tag along.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      This has to be everyone's favorite childhood book (from English speaking countries, that is!). It is surely one of mine.

    • MarkHansen profile image

      MarkHansen 5 years ago

      Grew up in a non English country, so I listened to it for the first time today and I really enjoyed it.

    • MarkHansen profile image

      MarkHansen 5 years ago

      Grew up in a non English country, so I listened to it for the first time today and I really enjoyed it.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great job introducing many aspects of The Velveteen Rabbit. It seems there's always something new to take from this story. Angel blessed

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great write up on a classic book! *blessed by a squid angel*

    • AlexTedford profile image

      AlexTedford 5 years ago

      Very fascinating...thanks for sharing!

    • TenPoundTenor profile image

      TenPoundTenor 5 years ago

      It's a great story. I used to cry every time my mom read it to me. It's cool finding this lens because I just finished recording a woman reading this so she could send a CD to her grandkids.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      I love pet rabbits and toy rabbits! Beautiful lens!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      The rabbit fan

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      The rabbit fan

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Good one

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 5 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Being a Dutchie I've never heard about this book, but seeing your intro picture, I think I would have really loved it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I listened to your recording of the Velveteen Rabbit. It was really nice, like when my mother used to read stories to me!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 5 years ago

      :sniff: this story makes me so sad!

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      happynutritionist 5 years ago

      I love this story, am going to listen to your recording. I don't read books much anymore, use my reading time on the computer, am an avid audio listener.

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 6 years ago from USA

      You have great lesson plan resources for Velveteen Rabbit, a tale I've read to hundreds of children, who all enjoyed it.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 6 years ago

      Did not realize that The Velveteen Rabbit is used for weddings. Thanks for the information. Blessed your page today for sharing something I did not know.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      fun and great looking lens. Awesome job!

      Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

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      JoshK47 6 years ago

      I have to be honest, this book still brings tears to my eyes. Great lens.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      I was unfamiliar with this story but happy to read your lens. I'm a Squid Angel for this category, but rarely find one worth blessing. Yours more than meets my standards. Your approach is original and interesting. Moreover, it has something to give, and that's certainly worth a blessing.

    • jvsper63 profile image

      jvsper63 6 years ago

      I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Nice Lens Joni

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      The Velveteen Rabbit was my daughter's favorite book. I have a special picture of her sleeping and besider her is this book. I enjoyed reading it to her too. You did a great job of advertising this book. I look forward to reading more of your lenses.

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      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      This was always one of my favorite books as a kid. Amazing I had kinda forgotten about it until visiting this lens.

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 6 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Love your approach to The Velveteen Rabbit! I featured your lens and lensrolled to mine about the author. Hope to send visitors your way!

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      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is one of my favorite books. Used this a lot in my classes.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      One of my favorite books ever! I even have a friend I call the Velveteen Bunny because she is so real :) Angel Blessed and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      I love the Velveteen Rabbit! Blessed by an angel!