{discover.play.build.} childhood toys

A gift from my parents when I was eight.

My family has been reading The Velveteen Rabitt: Or How Toys Become Real the past couple of days. I’d forgotten how much I love this story. In fact, in high school I memorized several lengthy passages for a leadership conference. Here is one of my favorites (Read it aloud if possible — it’s better that way!):

“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.”
     “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.”
     “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
     “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. 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.”

Write about a special childhood toy. It can be a toy from your past; a toy your child, grandchild, or dear one loved; or it can be a toy your fictional character loved. What makes this toy special and how did it make you feel? What does the toy look like? Take a picture and add it to your notebook. Find it on the Internet and print a copy for your notebook. Write a description.

As I thought about my character’s favorite childhood toy, I was surprised at the things I learned about my character. That’s the thing about these kinds of entries — I’m never disappointed by the insight I gain when I take the time to consider the details about my life, someone’s life I love, or a character’s life.

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  1. I think it is a little eerie how you always seem to know what is on my mind. Yesterday my one goal was to write a query letter. I hadn’t even heard of a query letter until Tuesday. I sit down to write it and decided to Google it, but first I of course have to check out my favorite sites. And what do I find? Your post on query letters. I spent all day Wednesday at a state conference on the common core. Pam Allyn was the key note speaker. What do I find on the TWT site? Stacey’s post about Pam Allyn. Last night I was sitting on the patio thinking about writing, and jotted down “Big Bear.” He was a favorite stuffed animal that was half my size, and a favorite gift from Santa. I didn’t get rid of him until after I was married (and only then because he was depleted of all stuffing, eyes, one ear, and his button nose). Coincidence? Karma? Kismet? Happenstance? Great minds think alike? Or just great timing? Whatever the reason; I’m loving this blog and am very grateful for you willingness to share your knowledge and insight. BUT I am having trouble “grabbing” your button. Any suggestions?

  2. I love it when things like this happen. I like to think of it as serendipity (but just because I love the way that word rolls off my tongue. 🙂

    Did you try right-clicking the button and selecting SAVE IMAGE AS? If it doesn't work, let me know & I'll email you the jpeg.

  3. Somehow I am following you on twitter or maybe you followed me first. And I came here and fell in love with this blog just now. I am so nostalgic about childhood. That what is real discourse is one of my favorites although I don't think I heard it until I was older.

  4. I was amazed at how vivid the memories became the more I wrote about my “Woodsy Squirrel” playhouse. I started out by finding a picture online and describing what I remember about it…but then had lots of memories surrounding it's purchase and the summer I really played with it a lot. More emotions attached to it than I remembered at first. Thank you for the jump-start today!