The third grade class had just spent the last ninety minutes in Reading Workshop. It was time for a break to transition to the next activity. Coming from a small group, one boy proudly said, “I’m reading a REAL chapter book. It’s not a FAKE chapter book.” He said the word REAL with as much reverence as the bunny in The Velveteen Rabbit. Reading has not been easy for this one so his comment caught my attention as did the chapter book he held in his hand. I wanted to know more. “What is a REAL chapter book?” I asked. No hesitation in his answer. He thumbed through the pages of a Patricia Giff chapter book as he quipped, ” See the words. They are small. There are no pictures.” My response was, “Well, then. What are FAKE chapter books?” No hesitation again. “They are books that you think are going to be chapter books but they are not. They are the same size on the outside but when you open them up, they are fake. The words are big. It is not really a chapter book. They trick you.” Then off he happily went for his break. Much like the rabbit who hopped off to play with his new real friends, this third grader went out the door for his break. I’m happy for his new REAL book friends but I hope he doesn’t abandon those FAKE chapter books completely. A good dose of Frog and Toad, Henry and Mudge, and Pinky and Rex to name a few always brightens my day.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams is a must have classic for your library. It was published in 1922. I like to place books in context of my family. My dad was born in 1921. I wonder if his mother read this gem to him. I wonder if this book was read to Kate DiCamillo. Did it play any part in her writing The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane?
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“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.”