I used to think Mr. McGregor was my neighbor when vacationing in Nantucket during the summers when I was very little. He was old, had glasses, and his garden had bunnies in it so it must have been him. I remember waking up in the mornings, rolling over and looking out my window into the garden and feeling very worried for Peter and his friends.
I thought the class discussion about the moral of The Tale of Peter Rabbit was very interesting because growing up I did not realize the book was telling me “listen to your mother” (at least not consciously). Rather, I took the book and applied it to the real world, believing the characters in the book were feet away from me. I think that this approach was probably similar to a lot of other children and I think the anthropomorphism of the realistically drawn rabbits cater to this interpretation. To a little kid, it is not a huge stretch to believe that a rabbit can talk or wears clothes, after all, you have been told that the Easter Bunny is real!
While I think the moral of the story is an important lesson for kids to learn, I don’t believe that I learned obedience from The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I wonder at what age a child would be able to constructively learn a lesson from a book such as this. Then again, maybe my concern for Peter translated into my own future actions.