One of the most enduring children’s stories of all time, discover a list of inspiring lessons in The Velveteen Rabbit. Written by Margery Williams and first published in 1922, the wonderful tale has been imparting its wisdom to readers for over a century.
A charming story of growth and inner beauty, The Velveteen Rabbit addresses important aspects of growing up. Although the prevailing moral of this children’s classic is that true worth comes from love, here is a list of six valuable life lessons in The Velveteen Rabbit.
Valuable Lessons in The Velveteen Rabbit
1. The Importance of Building Strength and Resilience
One of the most important lessons in The Velveteen Rabbit is resilience.
At the beginning of the book, the wise Skin Horse explains the process of becoming Real to the rabbit. He says that only the toys that are strong enough to stay intact during a child’s rough play and tough love can become Real.
Despite being envious of the mechanical toys with their moving parts and slick coats of paint, the rabbit becomes extremely resilient, ‘for wherever he was thrown he came down soft’. His stuffing always cushions his falls, and he’s able to pick himself back up and carry on without a scratch.
‘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.’
2. It’s Okay to Get Sad
After receiving criticism for addressing such heavy feelings in a children’s book, Williams stated that ‘it is the sadness which is inseparable from life, which has to do with growth and change and impermanence, and with the very essence of beauty.’
The book gently teaches children to embrace sadness and loss as part of what makes us human or ‘Real’. Spoiler alert: the tear the rabbit cries when he’s at his lowest point brings transformative magic, highlighting the importance of vulnerability.
“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.”
3. Healthy Relationships Take Work
The flourishing bond between the velveteen rabbit and the boy demonstrates the importance of nurturing healthy, positive relationships.
When the rabbit first starts sleeping in the boy’s bed, he finds it uncomfortable and restrictive. Instead of giving up and wanting to be back on the nursery floor with his friend, the Skin Horse, the rabbit is patient, and it’s not long before he’s able to dream peacefully beside the boy.
‘At first he found it rather uncomfortable (…) But very soon he grew to like it, for the Boy used to talk to him, and made nice tunnels for him under the bedclothes.’
4. Always Try to Be Authentic to Your True Self
One of the lessons in The Velveteen Rabbit that’s repeated throughout the story is the importance of being authentic to who you really are.
Although the other toys in the nursery attempt to imitate the objects they’re modelled after, pretending to be real boats and lions, the velveteen rabbit is always true to who he is. Unaware that rabbits exist in the wild, he doesn’t try to be a copy of anything and as a result is able to thrive and realise his full potential.
‘Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’
5. The Power of Self-Acceptance
The Velveteen Rabbit demonstrates that true happiness comes from self-acceptance. The less concerned he is about his appearance, the more he enjoys life. Even before others see him as Real, he accepts and believes in himself.
Eventually, the rabbit is so happy that he doesn’t notice his fur getting ‘shabbier and shabbier’ or his ‘tail becoming unsewn’ because he has fully embraced himself for who he is. To be truly happy, you must love yourself.
‘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.’
6. Love is the Most Important Thing in Life
Perhaps the most important of all the lessons in The Velveteen Rabbit is one of love. The Skin-Horse sagely tells the rabbit that the toys become Real when truly loved.
‘The Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy’s hands clasped close round him all night long. And so time went on, and the little Rabbit was very happy–so happy.’
Reminding us that value comes from love, the rabbit is happiest when he and the boy love each other.
‘When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
Like this post? Say it with a pin…