22 November 2003


I am always deeply moved to realize the absolute power and magic contained within the pages of Margaret Wise Brown's masterpiece, Goodnight Moon and the glorious illustrations by Clement Hurd.

I have always loved this book and have often shared it with children, but I am still ever filled with awe when I read it aloud to a group.

This latest fresh wave of adoration for the Great Green Room comes from my experiences on Illinois Family Reading Night this Thursday past. I had a pretty good group there and had gotten the kids all riled up with some rowdy books: I Stink!, Bling Blang, The Cat in the Hat. I further compounded that by reading aloud some of Shel Silverstein's naughtier poems. (The moms didn't look too thrilled with "Someone Ate the Baby," but the children fairly howled with laughter.)

So now, I have this room full of kids hopped up on rowdy books and sugar and I need to calm them down and wrap things up. Huh.

I told them I was gonna read a goodnight story, held up Goodnight Moon, and waited while they quieted down.

And then, I opened the book, and miracles happened.

The room was silent. Not just quiet. Silent.

Even the teeny baby there (perhaps alarmed by the aforementioned Silverstein poem), stopped crying.

I thought about the phrase, "so quiet you could hear a pin drop." I have seldom experienced that kind of quiet with children, but it happens every time I read Goodnight Moon. The only noise at all came when, almost inaudibly, a few of the children whispered "hush" when I read, "And good night to the old lady whispering 'hush'."

When the story ended, the silence hung on for a few seconds and then the kids started clapping while I made announcements.

The miracle is that this happens every time I read Goodnight Moon, and while I'm a pretty good outloud reader, I know that the reaction is not to me. It is to this timeless, simple, beautiful book.

God bless Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd.

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