Personalizing the Classic "Goodnight Moon" Story For Your Child

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Children of all ages have long adored Margaret Wise Brown’s ‘Goodnight Moon’. Its appeal lies largely in its repetitive nature, and also in the unique illustrations of Clement Hurd which allow a child to follow the words, quite literally, in a visual way. There are many ways you can personalize your reading of ‘Goodnight Moon’ for your child and give them a deeper appreciation of poetry at the same time…this is the way I have done it with mine.

Put time aside (preferably at bedtime) to sit and read with your child.  Then, read the book, slowly. Allow your little one to examine the pictures on each page for as long as they’d like and to fully absorb the story, as is. Let them point out whatever they like.  Pause to enjoy the story, as is, wherever it seems fitting.

Afterwards, go through the book again with your child and using the pictures ask them what other items they think might be good additions to the room, or what personal item they would like to see there. Incorporate these things, loosely, into the existing text. For example, if your daughter thinks her teddy bear and ballet slippers would be fitting, sandwich them, verbally, into the text on the first ‘Goodnight’ page. Instead of turning the page after reading the one line, ‘Goodnight room’, say, ‘Goodnight room. Goodnight teddy. Goodnight ballet slippers. Goodnight room.’

Keeping your child’s additions framed by the original text will allow for the original rhyme of the story to go a little less interrupted.

If they are unable to think of any other personal items to add, there are objects on the pages themselves that your child can use, but that are not mentioned in the text already. There are logs, a red blanket, an oval rug and some unraveling yarn. The baby bunny is resting comfortably on a fluffy white pillow.

Any (or all!) of these nouns and/or adjectives will suffice, just be sure that your child has an active hand in making these word choices.  Adjust the intricacies of your nouns and descriptions based on your childs age and ability.

Ask your child to point out on the picture in the book just where they think their items would go. Goodnight Moon‘s illustrations offer ample space for a little finger to ‘place’ imaginary items on the page.

Continue doing this for the remainder of your re-reading of the book. Actively visualizing objects within the pictures and incorporating them into what a kid perceives to be a ‘real’ poem will instill a sense of vested interest and accomplishment.

On a third or fourth read (or hundredth! It becomes a favourite, quickly!), read portions of the sentences and leave them open for your child to complete with the ”goodnight’ s they have already created, or allow them to surprise you by coming up with new ones on the fly. The ownership of language and the confidence this exercise can evoke are a deep and satisfying by product of reading this book.

Finish your reading of the book by closing it gently and, of course, kissing your child with a quiet, “goodnight”.


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