I don't know if I had previously read Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, but these are the type of books which are seen as 'classics' and which groups such as Ambleside online (derived from Charlotte Mason's methodology) consider ideal. Certainly the English is of a far better standard than that encountered in many more modern children's books. For example, 'Peter gave himself up for lost and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.'
But the basic story is of a disobedient rabbit who gets himself into danger, loses his new shoes and coat (for the second time in a fortnight) and ends up quite unwell as a consequence. Old mother rabbit, it would seem, wonders where his clothes went but doesn't seem all that perturbed, and instead gently puts him to bed with camomile tea. The only hint of a punishment is the consequence that Peter cannot enjoy the bread and milk and blackberries for supper that his sisters have.
It just made me wonder... I've come across a few childrens' books lately where disobedience and rebellion are almost encouraged, or if not encouraged, seen as a normal part of childhood. And yet at the same time, with boys aged 4, 3 and 1, I spend much of my day trying to enforce the importance of obedience, especially when one's safety is at risk. The story of Peter Rabbit, much enjoyed by the older boys, seems a direct contradiction of some of the standards I am trying to encourage.
What do other readers think? Am I taking things too seriously? Or should I use the story of an illustration of what should not be done? Should I see it as a teaching opportunity in its own right? Or should I simply let them enjoy the story and raise their own questions and draw their own conclusions? I'd love to know!
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.