What book do you want to read tonight?
I ordered a copy of Boynton’s The Going To Bed Book for my niece’s soon-to-be-in-the-world son, Declan. It was a favorite of my own two boys, given by my friend Diane. I’ve read it hundreds of times, and all that reading has worn the corners and spine soft.
The story starts at sunset and ends with everyone fast asleep under a bright moon. In between, the animals do all the going-to-bed activities – bathing, brushing teeth, exercising, and saying good night to each other. Like all great literature, familiarity makes it more interesting rather than less. Like all good picture books, it presents a the world in a smattering of simple words and captivating images. From these early books comes a love of learning and an appreciation for beauty.
How do you give someone else the world? How do you reveal the pain and joy of life? What is the best way to point out the wondrous things that surround us, and the ones that live within us? There are many answers to such questions. Still, the way of the children’s book is one of the best: Go with simple words. Point out the small miracles of daily life – moon, stars, ants, baths. Paint a picture when possible. Read it over and over until it becomes part of you. Give it a good ending. Share it with others.
The moon is high. The sea is deep.
[Boynton, Sandra; The Going To Bed Book; New York: Little Simon, new edition, 1995]