I learned more about rabbits reading Watership Down than I have by raising them. I have read it several times, and each time I fall in love all over again.
My first reading was as a young teen. I didn’t really grasp the political implications and the social commentary until I read it again in my twenties. I can’t say I enjoyed the story more because of understanding it better, but I did find the reading a deeper experience.
My boys fell in love with Richard Adams’ classic book many years ago. And I learned to read it as a child again. Because, in Adam’s own words,“I’ve always said that Watership Down is not a book for children. I say: it’s a book, and anyone who wants to read it can read it.” For him, it’s just a story, not meant to be a parable or an allegory or any of the things we crazy scholars accuse it of being.
It’s best enjoyed as just that–a wonderful, action-packed, astounding story.
In this house, we go tharn when we are shocked, scared, or speechless. Our rabbits go to silflay when we let them out of their cages. And we’re always on the lookout for Owsla.
The Story of Watership Down
If you don’t know the story (and don’t get my references), Watership Down is about Fiver, a young rabbit who is a seer, and the group of rabbits with whom he leaves his warren after he has visions of the complete destruction of their home.
The group of rabbits encounter many obstacles on the road to Watership Down, the site of the new warren Fiver has seen in his visions. They do finally reach their safe place, though, and more adventures follow. Because all the rabbits who followed Fiver to Watership Down are male. And they are going to die out pretty quickly if they don’t find some does. Some parts are a little scary, some parts are uplifting, and some parts are just plain fascinating.
Adams researched rabbits thoroughly before he anthropomorphized them, so the rabbits really do lead rabbit lives. But he also created a mythology and language for his characters, and those are the parts that will live in my house always and forever.
I’m thinking your kids will be just as fascinated by it all as my family is.Get your kids outside this summer with a free Watership Down Scavenger HuntClick To Tweet
A Watership Down Scavenger Hunt
Since the rabbits in Watership Down are on the hunt for a new home, a perfect way to get your kids outside while they’re enjoying the book is to hold a Watership Down Scavenger Hunt.
Not just any old scavenger hunt will do here. You need a hunt that is going to remind your kids of scenes from the book.
Don’t worry, I got you. Print out this free Watership Down Scavenger Hunt and head outside.
Here’s the game plan:
- Take the book with you (the point of this is to include reading in the activity)
- Pack a picnic or other treat to celebrate the end of the hunt (and make sure to take plenty of water. Hunting is thirsty work.)
- If you don’t have a yard to hunt in, head to the park or your nearest state or national forestry.
- If you aren’t sure the things you’ll be hunting can be found at your chosen site, take the items with you and hide them for your kids to find
- Give each child a copy of the Scavenger Hunt list
- Set a timer and tell them to go
- When the time is up, have the kids come back for lunch or a snack
- Count out the found items. Whoever found the most wins!
- You might even pick up a small prize for the winner, but it’s totally unnecessary (although, their own personal copy of the book dedicated by you might be just the thing!)
Don’t forget the free printable!