My girls and I just wrapped up our last official read-aloud of the school year (though by no means are we wrapping up our reading aloud)! This year we’ve been studying world geography via Build Your Library, and this book was on our list as we studied Europe. I was initially daunted by the length of the book as a read-aloud, but I did want to experience it with my girls, so I charged ahead. I am so very glad I did!
Watership Down is a very complex story about. . . rabbits. You knew that, right? That sums up everything I knew about the story before we read it, but believe me: there’s so much more to this tale. This novel would make a springboard for discussion about personality and leadership styles, archetypal images, sociological observations, rabbit behavior, and so much more. It’s the story of Fiver and Hazel (and a host of other rabbits) as they go through the arduous process of breaking away from their original warren and establishing their own. Through Fiver (the visionary) and Hazel (the practical leader), we get to experience the difficulties of leading such a movement. We might even imagine what it would be like to establish a nation through this, or at least recognize some of what we’ve studied through history as we read it. If I’m being obtuse about it, it’s because first, it’s quite a story to summarize; and second, I feel like I need to study it a bit more myself to offer much commentary. In discussing it with my girls, both girls were able to see shades of the totalitarian regimes of World War II and the Cold War in it, so I think that’s something. This would make an interesting read alongside some of the dystopian novels of the past and present. I’d like to revisit it again after I study it a bit more. It’s quite an exciting story on top of all that. Highly Recommended. (Avon, 1972)