In the children’s bedtime storybook, Goodnight Moon, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, the author introduces the reader to “… the great green room” (1) in which greeting the inanimate objects that are first seen when the story begins. The storybook consists of simple lines of rhymes throughout each page along with the aesthetics of vibrantly painted illustrations to keep the child’s interest. The main theme of the book – saying “goodnight” to different objects around the bedroom – assists parents in developing their young child’s development.
It is also utilized as a method to prepare young children to go to sleep as it in a way is a countdown until the child eventually falls asleep, as everything in the room is addressed a “goodnight” to. The reader follows along in the room with the character, a young and adorably illustrated rabbit that symbolizes the child who is following along the book with their parent or guardian. Items are introduced in the room, along with an elderly woman who assumingly represents the small rabbit’s grandmother. As all of these things are being introduced, the young rabbit is snuggled comfortably under the covers of the bed.
After rotating around the room, all are mentioned again except this time with a “goodnight” such as “And there were three little bears sitting on chairs” (2) and “Goodnight Bears/ Goodnight Chairs” (7). Lastly, giving a “… goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush’ ” (25). Brown has executed well with this book in reflecting a child’s bedroom environment in a rhythmic pattern to describe commonly found household objects and toys to capture the young reader’s attention, alongside with Hurd’s specialty in vivid and prismatic paintings to inspire children’s cognitive, physical, and social and emotional development.
The book, Goodnight Moon, is targeted towards an audience of children presently in the stage of early childhood. In this phase of childhood development, with children ranging from ages two through six, cognitive, physical, and social and emotional changes will occur. Physical changes include development in the increasing size of the brain, skeletal growth, and the metamorphosis of cartilage to hardened bone. This is also the time where “baby” teeth are lost from the child’s mouth. There is accelerated growth of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which functions include social activeness and memory.
Cognitively, there are advancements in the abilities of language, make-believe play, memory, comprehension, and attention span. The functions of the prefrontal cortex are served as the child being read Goodnight Moon will experience remembering what they have seen in the real world such as toys in their bedroom and comparing them to the toys illustrated in the pages of the storybook as their parent is actively engaged with them during the reading. Recognizable items that can be seen in everyday life appear in the book that children can point out are “… a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush” (4).
Paying attention to these simple objects and being able to identify them in a separate setting (in this case it is the storybook) is evidence of the child’s growing cognitive development. The rhyming arrangement throughout the book allows ease for memory to latch on to and keep the reader’s attention because of its simplicity and pattern. Social and emotional skills are also developing due to the new and improved self-awareness, emotional understanding for others or empathy, relationships with peers and beginning to form a system of morals.
Self-consciousness is also discovered during early childhood in which children begin to have feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment. Fears start to take shape in a child’s life that can include the dark, monsters, or school. Children should be taught that some of the imaginary concepts should not be feared of such as the dark in which it is more fear of the unknown, and that by knowing by turning on the light switch, the things in the dark are not as frightening as imagined.
Goodnight Moon is an excellent choice of book to teach children of the fears they could have including the dark or monsters which are common before bedtime. As objects are being named in the story, fears could also be brought up and discussed about which is an example of a symbol-real-world-relation. Also, it should come to surface of the understanding that school is to educate and assist in social development with peers, and not that the parent is there to abandon the child and will return routinely.
Self- concept becomes more apparent starting in early childhood as the child grows which includes being aware of what one likes or dislikes, but not yet defining true personality traits. With Goodnight Moon, a parent could be actively involved with their child while reading and ask questions pertaining to the child’s likes and dislikes of certain objects and toys in the bedroom setting of the book and relate back to real life. In peer relationships, the child will exercise their social and emotional skills by understanding another child’s feelings and thoughts, and care for one another.