Here’s the latest instalment in our new Recommended Reads for Children series. This time around, former Reader Organisation Project Worker and independent bookstore worker Marianne Kelly opens up Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, suitable for children from birth.
Although this book has been continuously published for over 60 years I only came across it a few years ago whilst reading Dr Maryanne Wolfe’s Proust and the Squid: Science of the Reading Brain in preparation for her appearance at The Reader Organisation’s National Conference in 2011. I bought the book soon after when my son was a few months old but must admit that it didn’t look particularly intriguing and I was unsure of what all the fuss was about. However, I soon realised the magic that this book holds; it is a book that we read every night and always seems to bring about the biggest of smiles when pulled from the shelf.
The book is full of little details for children to notice and delight in – the hidden mouse, the dollhouse with lights on, the pictures on the wall. The book’s text and illustrations are matched in a way that it is natural to point out the words and pictures to your child, and for them to do the same as they grow older. It’s the perfect book to start kids reading themselves in a natural and relaxed way – leave out the crucial word in a line and wait for them to say it – ‘a bowlful of….’ “MUSH!”, they shout with delight!
Goodnight Moon encourages a sense of gratitude for whatever is around us, things that belong to the beloved world of childhood. As I carry my son to his bed I often continue saying goodnight to items in the room that are unique to him such as his ball or his favourite toys. There is a cadence to the story that is like a mediation mantra, quietly and gently calming you and your child down and creating a crucial sense of security.
Maryanne Wolf discusses why this book has captured the imagination of millions of children:
‘Is it the use of pictures of beloved items in a room? Is it the sense of discovery as children learn to find a tiny mouse that hides in a different place on every page? Is it the reader’s voice, which seems to get softer and softer until the book’s last page? All these reasons and more provide an ideal beginning for a long process that some researchers call emergent literacy. The association between hearing written language and feeling loved provides the best foundation for this long process, and no cognitive scientist or educational researcher could have designed a better one.’
Goodnight Moon manages to capture both adult and child in its charms. This is a great book for children all the way from infancy upwards. A perfect bedtime story that can easily become a treasured tradition.
You can buy Goodnight Moon via The Reader Organisation’s Amazon Bookshop link and help support The Reader Organisation’s work. If you’d rather buy your books from somewhere offline, you can find Goodnight Moon in a range of independent bookshops, including Tales on Moon Lane in London.