A boy got a new toy rabbit made of velveteen. At first it was forgotten among all his other toys, and it didn't mind at all because it made friends with a toy horse (though other toys laughed at the rabbit).
Then one day the boy lost the china dog he usually slept with, and his Nana quickly gave him the velveteen rabbit to replace it. The boy grew to love the rabbit so much that he even said it was real. (The rabbit enjoyed this because it had heard the toy horse say that when you are loved enough you become real, and the rabbit had wished to become real.) The velveteen rabbit soon lost his contentment, when he met real bunnies outside.
Soon, it didn't even matter because the boy caught an illness. The velveteen rabbit patiently waited for the boy to get well so they could play together again. However, as soon as the boy did get well all his old playthings had to be burned to remove the germs of scarlet fever. The boy was too excited to hear about going to the seaside to notice this. The velveteen rabbit was able to escape the bag he was in with the other things to be burned and cries over his fate, that he could be loved and yet look shabby and be left all alone.
A fairy appears from a tear of his and turned him into a real rabbit so that he could join the rabbits in the woods. One day, he comes "... back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real."
I had a book of virtues with a collection of fairy tales, and this story had always been my favorite one. The story is just so sweet and precious. It was a little sad the boy lost his rabbit, but at least the rabbit got what he always wanted.
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- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo, is also about a toy rabbit. This rabbit is selfish, however, and journeys from household to household before coming back home with a better heart. So while the velveteen rabbit learned about being loved, Edward Tulane learned about loving.
- To read it online: http://www.archive.org/stream/velveteenrabbito0bian#page/n17/mode/2up