16-Page Read: The Velveteen Rabbit
Two years ago, we read The Little Prince to Sierra, though she’ll never remember it.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
She wasn’t born yet. It wasn’t an act of consciousness for her – simply a vehicle for getting her used to my voice: the second voice in her life, and the one she often heard when her mother’s was quiet. She didn’t pop out quoting lines from the book, and her propensity toward books is caused more by availability than some deep-seated memory of reading while still in the womb.
It doesn’t matter. We read it to her anyway. And with Baby Boy Vilhauer, we repeated the task – this time with The Velveteen Rabbit.
I understand that Baby Boy Vilhauer probably won’t remember a word from The Velveteen Rabbit.
But that’s not exactly the point, is it?
Really, we read it for ourselves. We both rediscovered the simple joy in making something real – remembering our own Velveteen Rabbits, those childhood items that we loved more than anything, believing they held some kind of magic powers that keep us safe from evil.
Our minds flowed back to the innocence of youth, finding comfort, understanding that as we grow, our own cherished things become more fragile. Harder. Unwilling to protect us. I find no solace in an old clock, or in the cold sharpness of a family keepsake. But I do see that comfort in Sierra’s toys. As if they weren’t designed for play, but for protection from some unseen tragedy. Designed to keep people young, to preserve that innocence.
More than that, we understood that, by reading The Velveteen Rabbit to Baby Boy through the constricting nature of the womb, we were reaching out to him. Longing to meet him.
The Velveteen Rabbit became, without doubt, Baby Boy’s book. That’s an important connection in our household – a story that will forever be connected to a time and place; laying in bed, Kerrie propped on her side, we went through all 33 pages in two nights, reliving the memory of a classic story, and introducing it to our next great discovery.
Sierra had that with The Little Prince. And, though I understand it’s all coincidence, she has grown to be a caring and peaceful individual, seemingly learning from the lessons of that book.
If our baby boy can move forward with his lessons – on accepting everyone, on loving without barrier, and on the importance of believing in yourself – we’re confident that his first book will be as meaningful to him, even if unknowingly so, as it is for us.