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Goodnight Moon is a great children's book for a few reasons.

- It goes around introducing a bunch of objects in the room, filling the child's short term memory with them as they're introduced. This helps push other things out of mind and brings some focus.

- The pictures add depth with their bright, unrealistic colours and small scale detail. The careful eye will notice many little details.

- The book alternates between color pages and B&W, showing the child two different styles. The B&W pages heavily feature the text, helping the child figure out that those letter squiggles might actually have meaning and bear some relationship to what their parent is saying everytime they look at that page.

- All of the introduced objects are then dismissed, one by one, putting them back out of mind with some "closure" while not introducing anything new. Everything has been properly bidden (bade?) farewell and has been put away; the child can rest easy knowing it's all accounted for.

- The book ties into Runaway Bunny, and I think there's a third book too, which gives the child the nice idea that there's a universe inside the book that other books can also peek into.

It's been a staple for all my kids and I'm sure the copy will be kept for the grandkids....




The third book you're thinking of is "My World".

You make good points about Goodnight Moon, but I have an emotional reaction against it.


Please tell me more, I'm genuinely curious. I've heard of other people that dislike it but never got an answer why.


Bearing in mind that I admit up front these items are emotional and not particularly rational, and also all from dimming memory. My kids are 18, 16 and 13. I haven't read Goodnight Moon in at least 10 years.

1. It's very upper-crust early 1900s. Very prim and proper, everything in its place, and not very many things.

2. The items that it dwells on aren't very relevant to today's children. There's an open fireplace, fer chrissake! Huge safety hazard, and absolutely unfamiliar.

3. What's up with the little old lady whispering "hush"? Who is she? What's she doing in that kid's room? Is she Mrs Bates? No explanation or context at all.

4. Turn the light off. No kid goes to sleep with a light on. Sure, some of them claim they need it, but turning it on is an invitation to stay up til midnight.

5. The green-and-red color scheme makes it look absurd. Is it Christmas in that room all the time? I think the window is open, too, so maybe it's Christmas in June?

6. A bowl of mush? Mush what? Granola? Cornflakes? Oatmeal? Grape nuts? Could be any, all are revolting when they've soaked up the milk to become mush. The mush needs to be thrown out.

My World, which appears to be a follow on to Goodnight Moon, seems like the author was high. Extremely disjoint.

Margaret Wise Brown also wrote The Big Red Barn which has a lot of the same sort of problems. Why did the big white hen stand on one leg? Why did the smaller breed of chicken have a clutch of 10 eggs, vs the white chicken's 1 egg? What happened to the story of the children who play in the hay? That was a story for another day, but surely that day has come and gone. Where did the children go?


Alright, a response:

> It's very upper-crust early 1900s

It's nice to expose children to a wide range of lifestyles, particularly ones that reflect their own cultural origins. Gives a jumping off point for discussion.

> There's an open fireplace, fer chrissake!

I have an open fireplace in my house. I don't use it often, but it's there, and it's cozy enough. Wood smoke isn't that great for you, so I only light it at Christmas usually.

> What's up with the little old lady whispering "hush"? Who is she?

It doesn't matter. Nanny, grandmother, not important.

> Turn the light off. No kid goes to sleep with a light on

Yes, that would have been a good addition. "Goodnight light".

> The green-and-red color scheme makes it look absurd.

I think this is an artifact of the printing technology available at the time.

> A bowl of mush? Mush what?

It's gruel.

> Margaret Wise Brown also wrote The Big Red Barn which has a lot of the same sort of problems.

Ahh, I love that one too, though!

> Why did the big white hen stand on one leg? Why did the smaller breed of chicken have a clutch of 10 eggs, vs the white chicken's 1 egg?

Maybe a farmer would have had answers for that. Maybe it was common knowledge a generation ago.

> Where did the children go?

Now they're grandparents, no doubt, and wonder the same thing


"particularly ones that reflect their own cultural origins"

You mean "...ones that don't reflect..."?




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