A Little Literacy, Please: Goodnight Moon

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By Leslie Lindsay

Seems every parent receives a copy of Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, at some point in their parenting journey.  We did.  Wrapped in brown paper packaging was a small board book version of the classic, along with a hand-sewen pillow emblazoned with a moon and stars, “Dear Baby Kate,” the note read.  It was from extended family on my husband’s side of the family.

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We still have the book.  Even though it’s a board book, the last page is torn and repaired by Dr. Mom.  My daughter’s still request it be read on occassion and they always ask about the torn pages.  “Baby Kate did it,” my youngest likes to announce.   She’s right.

We’ve read the book the traditional way–straight through.  We’ve read the book with normal volume of voice at the beginning, getting quieter and quieter until we are whispering at the end.  And we’ve even adapted the book as the girls got older to a more “crude” way of reading, “And the old lady said shut up and go to bed already!”  At 4 1/2 and 6 years, they think it’s hilarious.  (it’s even more fun when we read it sweetly and pop in our crudeness when they least expect it).

So, who cares?!  Scott Simon does.  And he is…?  The NPR Saturday Weekend Edition guy (I had to look it up, too).  I was reading Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book (Roaring Book Press, 2009) again.  Scott Simon (I have listened to the NPR program on Saturday mornings, I just didn’t get the connect with your name, please forgive me) says that he has memories of his mother reading Goodnight Moon to him when he was about 3.  He indicates that the “deliberate, studied, unhurrried tolling of all spots, people, things, and places in the room calms and makes a child feel snug in his or her universe; snug enough to fall asleep.”

I would have to say that Scott Simon is right.  My 4 1/2 year old still requests the book when she feels particularly tired and just needs to be comforted.  Somehow, she miraculously falls asleep.  A magic book?  I don’t think so, but there is something powerful about the moon that gets us all to go to sleep, like the way it brings in the tide.

Goodnight, moon. 

 

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