This book presents a story told at first as a mystery about a rabbit that the family discovers at a movie theater. The book is included within the Park Ridge, IL District 64 reading list for grade 3.
The issue of sharing is a complex one that has both developmental and cultural elements. The question is when and under what conditions you are obligated to share as opposed to when sharing is a matter of personal discretion.
Developmental issues: Children younger than age seven generally have a very difficult time with sharing since they are unable to fully coordinate two perspectives simultaneously. Discussions of sharing are very rich as sources of moral growth in grades K-2. The following example is from grade 3. However, even older children can continue to work on the issue in order to consolidate their new ability to coordinate things and to go beyond strict equality.
One thing that makes sharing complicated is that the person who is possession of goods generally has a legitimate personal claim to those goods. So, sharing is not a simple moral issue, and our social messages to share, and that one should defend one’s entitlements, and that one should not expect things from others, make this all very confusing for children.
TEACHER SUMMARY OF ISSUE:
At the beginning of the story the two brother are fighting over where the rabbit will stay in the house. One brother, , wins the battle and keeps the rabbit in his room on the grounds that he saw it first.
1. What do you think of the two boys fighting over the rabbit?
2. How do you think each boy felt?
3. How do you think the rabbit felt?
4. How about the parents?
5. Isn’t it upsetting when people fight over things?
6. Didn’t (boy’s name ) have a right to keep the rabbit since he saw it first? How come?
7. Can you think of a better way that they could have solved this problem?
8. The narrator (dog’s name) tells us that (boy’s name) never shares. How does this make the (dog’s name ) feel about him? Is (dog) justified in feeling that way?
9. Aren’t you entitled to keep your own stuff?
10. Why share anyhow?
SOCIAL CONVENTION: Issues of manners
Third grade children are at a point where they are negating conventions on the basis that there are exceptions. Manners seem arbitrary to children at this age. They are moving toward the view that manners are established by authorities to establish some concrete order to things.
When the narrator discusses the children’s behavior at the beginning of the story he describes the family as speaking to everyone with respect, even the animals. The teacher can use this as a basis for the following set of discussion questions:
1. What does it mean to speak to others with respect?
2. Come up with 5 examples of things that you can say to another person that show respect.
3. Come up with 5 examples of ways that you can speak to someone that are not mean, but would be considered rude.
4. How come some ways of speaking are considered respectful, and others are considered rude?
5. What does it mean to have good manners?
6. What difference does it make whether or not you have good manners when you speak to other people?
7. Did you ever notice that when you speak to teachers you call them Mr. or Mrs. And not by their first names, but when they speak to students they use your first names?
8. How come it is rude if you use their first names, but good manners when they call you by your first name?