In our homeschool, we lean heavily towards a literature-rich approach. We limit screen time to 30 minutes per day. We fill our days with time spent outside and lots of reading. So I was very glad to review How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea and Peter Rabbit Goes A-Visiting from Kinder Cottage Publishing.
These are small, hardback books and cost ony $4 each. They are part of a series of 10.
These books were originally written by Duff Graham for the Henry Altemus company over 90 yrs ago and are in the public domain. They contain vintage illustrations and the language has been updated for the modern reader (bicycle instead of velocipede, for instance). However, the sentences are well constructed and the vocabulary is rich. This is the number one reason you should read these books to your children.
They are meant for ages 3-9. The little ones will love looking at the pictures while listening, while an older child could actually read these books out loud or to himself.
They both have 64 pages, with an illustration on every spread. Peter Rabbit Goes A-Visiting is shorter than the other book mentioned above by simply having less words on the page. So on a day when I feel tired, I reach for this less wordy book.
Peter, “as all good little children know,” is a naughty little rabbit who lives with his Mother and his sisters: Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail. Cotton-tail is very fond of Peter and she always takes his side, asking Mother to spare him from discipline whenever he misbehaves.
How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea contains the story of the naughty little rabbit who got into trouble because he disobeyed his mother yet again. She specifically told him not to go to the brook, but, sure enough, he decided playing Pirate was exactly what he wanted to do for the afternoon. His sisters asked him not to look for trouble, but he did.
He built himself a little boat and then sailed on the brook, which flowed into the sea. Peter thus met a whale, a shark, a seagull and several other creatures who completely scare him. By the time he got back home, he tells his Mother he never wants to play Pirate again. She does not punish him. She was a wise mom, who understood natural consequences will discipline and teach more than parent-imposed punishment.
I took this book with us to the Gatlinburg Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because I knew we would play by the river. I wanted the kids to experience the story in similar surroundings.
In Peter Rabbit Goes A-Visiting, Peter gets to experience some serious adventures as he veers off his mission to hang out with Jack the Jumper instead. When Peter had to fetch medicine for Flopsy, who had a toothache, he ran into Jack, who invited Peter to go to a party with him.
Peter took a moment to consider what to do. I told my children that’s called the valley of decision. Many times in life they will find themselves in a situation where they know they must do something, but they feel like doing something else. That’s when they will come up with an excuse to avoid the call of duty – or somebody else will provide that excuse, as was the case of Peter and Jack.
The number two reason to read them is because they contain lessons about obedience and the consequences of disobedience. I have read these books to my children several times already and every time I feel inspired to stop in a different spot and point something out.
There is an illustration where Mother Rabbit is spanking Peter Rabbit with a rather thick stick. There is also a night when Peter goes to bed without supper, as a form of discipline. Modern day parents might not choose to discipline their children in these ways and I want to let my readers know about it in advance.
Even if you do not use such drastic measures to get your children’s attention, you can still use these illustrations as a means to inform them of what other children go through or used to go through.