The human habitat has changed so much over the past very few years. Instead of sleeping under the trees and roaming outdoors we spend almost all of our time indoors. The impact of that isn't huge, but there probably is a small effect on our happiness. Studies show that having green trees or even just the color green in a room can reduce stress in occupants. I can only image a reading rabbit can do even more than that!
Human-pet interrelations are important to me. My Master's degree was in animal behavior of wild animals but at several conferences I was exposed to some interesting seminars dealing with domestic pets. I worry quite a bit about pets. The animal abusers are one thing but all the unintentional abuses and neglects are what worry me. So many people seem to really misunderstand animal behavior.
To remedy this problem with Alice, the reading rabbit, I plan on making sure all the kids get to learn how to care for a rabbit, read rabbit body language, understand wild rabbit ecology, understand house rabbit dangers, and still enjoy the rabbit as she runs binkies about the enclosure. I think it is important to show love and respect for these animals, even the ones we eat!
Alice's enclosure is being figured out in the next couple of weeks (right now she has a very ugly looking temporary one). The plan is to have an area big enough for all of us to have space to sit in a circle around the "campfire", surrounded by plants, with a rabbit freely moving around us. Her roll is as a distraction. We plan on doing lots of reading and for some students their interests can be very selective, so the rabbit and the plants and the pretty rocks are all small ways of keeping students in the group and quietly listening to what is being read out loud. At our house the kids will often play with toys while longer stories are being read -or at least they try to until they get wrapped up in the story and stop playing transfixed.
And no doubt she'll end up eating her fair share of books too.