Goodnight Moon – There’s More!

My recent post on Goodnight Moon, a classic book and certainly a staple in my classroom, was well received.

Fellow blogger Beth I didn’t have my glasses on… has her school’s Spanish teacher read the book aloud to her Pre-K children in Spanish.  What a wonderful thing to do… and of course my wheels began turning.  In March we begin to prepare for our annual Art Show for the community.  This year we will be studying France, their great artists, and styles of painting.

I can read Goodnight Moon to the children in French!

I am so excited!  I already have this planned out.  My fellow teacher will have the book in English, and I will have this book in French.  We’ll be side-by-side in front of the children.  She will read the cover in English, and I will read the cover in French.  That alone will take ‘forever’ in a huge conversation with children.  Oh yes, ‘forever’ in the best of ways.  I have no idea what will happen, but I know it will be wonderful.  Then, she will read the first page in English, and I will read it in French.  And so on, throughout the book.

Fellow blogger Pete Pete Springer asked me why I hadn’t included his favorite video of ‘Rapper Jennie’ reciting Goodnight Moon.  I thought about that, but I didn’t want to steal Harry’s thunder in his wonderful video reciting the book to Gloria.

And then I was reminded the rapper video is more than fun; it is music, beats, rhyming and rhythm.  It’s pretty much what children love and need.  The backstory of this rapper video is a good one:

It’s April, 2020.  School has been closed and doing fully remote learning for a month.  I had immediately started a YouTube channel  for children to hear me read aloud every day.  I had to keep that constant going.

By April, we were pulling out our hair as to how to keep children engaged with Zooms.  I was on a Zoom with my fellow teachers, and we talked about Goodnight Moon because it was so important to the children.

“Wait!  I have our African djembe at home.  I could do the beats to the story.”

“Jennie, I have a better idea.  You could do the beats like a rapper.”

“Me, a rapper?  Well, I’m game for anything.  I have sunglasses.  I need a hat.”

At this point we were all beyond excited.  I found my sunglasses.  Then, I tried on different hats.  This was not a pretty picture.  We never laughed so hard!  At last I grabbed my husband’s snow blowing hat.  Somehow it worked. 

And that is the story behind me, flying by the seat of my pants, and somehow doing a rapper version of  Goodnight Moon.

I will always champion for books and the many ways we can read them to children.


Posted in books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, picture books, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Goodnight Moon – A Staple, Every Year

Before children learn to read, first they must hear the words.  It’s developmental, like learning to crawl before learning to walk.  The auditory piece, including singing, hits both the brain and the soul in learning.  In my preschool class, reading aloud is a top priority, so I constantly read picture books and also chapter books.

So, what is it about Goodnight Moon that is a staple every year?  Yes, every single year.  It’s a book for younger children, yet preschoolers are drawn to the rhyming, the objects in the book, and what happens next.  Oh, this is without seeing the illustrations.  I recite this book before chapter reading.  Children hear the words.  That’s it.

Is it the words?  The routine of reciting it before chapter reading?  Or is it the quality of the book?  Did you know the New York Public Library’s children’s librarian hated Goodnight Moon?  Really hated.  The story resurfaced a few years ago:

In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the New York Public Library released its top 10 most-checked-out books of all time. Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day tops the list.  Notably, although the NYPL’s list is dominated by children’s classics, Goodnight Moon does not appear. It gets an honorable mention, with the explanation that “extremely influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore hated Goodnight Moon when it first came out,” so the library failed to acquire it as long as she was there.

Miss Moore’s taste was particular. She loved Beatrix Potter and The Velveteen Rabbit and was a steadfast believer in the role of magic and innocence in children’s storytelling. This put her in opposition to a progressive wave then sweeping children’s literature, inspired by the early childhood research of the Cooperative School for Student Teachers, located on Bank Street in Greenwich Village. The Bank Street School, as it became known, was also a preschool and the teacher training facility where Margaret Wise Brown enrolled in 1935. This progressive wave was exemplified by the Here and Now Story Book, created by Bank Street’s leading light Lucy Sprague Mitchell in 1921. A collection of simple tales set in a city, focusing on skyscrapers and streetcars, it was a rebuttal to Moore’s “once upon a time” taste in children’s lit.

Shame on Miss Moore.  This story reminds me how I need to read everything to young children.  Everything.  Young minds need to be exposed to a plethora of reading.  It also makes me enjoy Goodnight Moon all the more.

Every day before chapter reading I recite Goodnight Moon.  The children love it for two reasons; they know that chapter reading is next, and they feel connected to the words in the book.  I recite the story, all the words, and they have no pictures to see (just like chapter reading.)  Over the course of the year, I have changed the words to incorporate the names of the children.  “And Tommy’s red balloon, and a picture of Sarah jumping over the moon…”.  This has been hugely successful.  The children think it is so much fun, but I realize that there is a bigger connection with the language they are hearing.  I have taken a story they love, recited with no pictures, and changed the text.  That means changing your brain, and children do that so well.

It gets more complicated, or perhaps I should say more simple.  Reciting Goodnight Moon then naturally flowed into singing.  It was already a story with a rhyme, and it already had children’s names as part of the rhyme.  So, I sang Goodnight Moon.  It didn’t matter what the tune was.  The important part was singing, as that brought ‘life’ into the words.  I occasionally changed the ‘beat’ as well, clapping or tapping my foot.

Teachers naturally address visual learners.  Whether it is a classroom chart or writing on the board, the majority of information for children is often visual.  If we address the auditory learners through singing, rhyming, and chanting, we are crystallizing language.  And, it is fun!  So, I now sing poetry, stories and rhymes whenever I can.  The children love it, and it works.  Goodnight Moon is proof.

We are halfway through the school year.  This week I asked the Helper of the Day if s/he wanted to stand with me and recite the book.  That is a big deal!  Harry was excited, and did a great job.  All the children listened to him.  The next day he wanted to recite Goodnight Moon to Gloria:

Never underestimate children.  They have far more heart, gut, passion, and bravery than we realize.  Give children opportunities.  Let them shine.  Read aloud.  They’re our future.  Harry certainly is.


Posted in books, children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, literacy, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , , , , | 76 Comments

Words and Moments of Endearment – They Last a Lifetime

When children leave my class and move on to Pre-K or Kindergarten, we often see each other in the hallway.  A wave, a smile, and sometimes a big hug, comes naturally.  Those moments are genuine.  You can’t make children feel something.

I was in the hallway at school, headed to the right.  Brooke was coming down the hallway in the opposite direction.  As we passed each other, this is what we said:

(Brooke): “Hi Jennie.”

(Me): “Hi Brooke.”

(Brooke): “I miss you.”

(Me): “I miss you more.”

(Brooke): “I miss you most.”

(Brooke): “Love you.”

(Me): “Love you, too.”

By the time we said ‘love you’,  we were far enough apart to turn around, yell, and wave.  I think we both smiled all the way to our hearts.

I have Maya Angelou’s quote hanging on a plaque right in front of me.  It says,

“People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I often replace ‘people’ with ‘children’.  Does Brooke remember our Morning Meetings and activities?  Maybe, because that’s what went to her brain, stored for life.  What she will never forget is how I made her feel, in her heart for life.

The brain never forgets.  The heart always remembers.


Posted in behavior, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Love, preschool, Quotes, School, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , | 59 Comments

The New York Times and Charlotte’s Web

The Books We Loved as Children Can Comfort Us at the End

The cartoonist Paul Karasik spent time with his 103-year-old mother, reading the classics, like E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web.”

Paul Karasik is a cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker. He also teaches at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design.

I have always wanted to read to seniors in a nursing home.  My grandmother lost her sight a few years before she died, and I dearly wish I had read to her.  What would I read to seniors?  Whatever book was their childhood favorite.  This recent New York Times article tells me I’m not alone.  I have to believe there are many seniors who would love to hear a favorite book read aloud.  It’s on my bucket list.  Really.

If this were you, what book would you like to hear?


Posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, Death and dying, E.B. White, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, literacy, reading aloud | Tagged , , | 87 Comments

Cold hands, warm heart

I just love this! Thank you, Bluebird of Bitterness.

bluebird of bitterness

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There Are Never Enough Sunsets

In New England, winter sunsets happen around 4:30 PM.  This is today’s sunset at school.  Typically we are outside on the playground at this time.  Today we were inside.  When I saw the sunset’s pink and yellow colors, looking out the classroom windows, we all went outdoors and watched.  No coats, just us and the sky.  It was cold, but no one cared.  For a long time we were, well, ‘there’.  A group moment doesn’t need words.  There are never enough sunsets.


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Growing Bookworms: Books to help children cope with change

Children need to be able to cope with change, especially in the world today. Robbie knows that books can often be ‘just the thing’ to help children navigate sometimes-scary waters. Hearing stories of other children who are faced with change gives children resilience and also comfort. Thank you, Robbie for sharing three terrific books for children (and adults.) They are classics. And thank you for including a video of me reading the first chapter of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Writing to be Read

Welcome to the first post of 2022 in the Growing Bookworms series.

A lot of people and children face change at the beginning of a new calendar year. In the Southern Hemisphere, children change grades and sometimes schools. Parents often change jobs and this can trigger changes to homes, schools, cities, and even countries.

Adults are better equipped to cope with change because they have more experience of life than children. Adults have already transitioned from junior school to high school and then often on to a tertiary education institution. Most adults have looked for, and gained, employment and have moved from their parents home to their own dwelling. Some adults have moved jobs and homes numerous times. As a result of the many life changes most adults have faced, they have learned strategies to help them cope with the anxieties and concerns that arise from major life changes.


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Coming to America – Circa 1905

Frank is the history buff, the master storyteller, and the one who cares about his family’s history- every relative for well over a decade. His posts bring history to life. I have learned more about Brooklyn, Italy, the Army, education in the ’60’s, and how things came to be how they are today, by reading Frank’s posts. I am ‘there’, and every relative feels like my family member. I am glued to his posts and stories. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.


My grandfather Francesco at the wedding of his grand daughter – circa 1950.  He was a 33 year old widower in 1905 with 3 young children, no wife to care for them and no future in the new Italy.  He decided to come to America.


Francesco needed a wife.

He was a widower. He was sitting in the place in Southern Italy where his family had lived for generations with three children who no longer had a mother. His wife Antonia was dead.

He was also determined to go to America. He knew he had no future here.  Neither did his children.

He had grown up poor in a town (you have to guess which one) where absentee landlords owned everything and everyone else owned nothing. He had no education and could barely read or write Italian. The town was run by the landlords, the “prominenti” (those relatively well off), the priests and…

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The Morning After the Snow- Memories of “Katy and the Big Snow”, a Classic Children’s Book

At last the sun appeared, shining brightly.
Yesterday’s first snow was in full glory.

The first thing that popped into my head was, of course, a children’s book.  I wrote this post years ago, and it is as poignant today as ever.

“Katy and the Big Snow”, by Virginia Lee Burton is a classic children’s book that continues to be beloved today.  After two major snow storms this week, it was the perfect read.  The book never gets old, children always find something new.  This week was no exception.  Frankly, the book exploded into unexpected learning about a compass, geography, a yard stick, and more.


It happened like this…

As we enjoyed reading the first page, I had an epiphany.  The border depicts all the trucks that belong to the highway department.  A border.  Wait a minute- the only other author that does that in her books is Jan Brett.  Of course; Jan Brett must have read “Katy and the Big Snow” when she was young and been inspired.  I felt like a child in school who “got it”.  This was exciting!


We stopped to pull out “The Mitten” and “Three Snow Bears.”  They were different, yet the same; different because Jan Brett’s borders in her books are clues to the next page, the same because the borders in “Katy and the Big Snow” detail the story.  It took a long time to finish reading the first page.

A few pages later a child said, “There’s a compass.”  Sure enough, a compass is featured throughout the book.  Our “Big Book Atlas of the World” has a compass on each page, and we often talk about north, south, east, and west.  Understanding the geography of the town is key to Katy’s snow plowing in the story.  But wait, this compass is different!


North is not pointing to the top, and there are eight main points, not four.  Quick thinking was necessary to seize this moment.  While I didn’t have a compass in the classroom (now I will), I had one on my phone.  We huddled together to look at the compass, and it was moving.  So, we spread out like a group of scouts on an expedition, walking around the classroom, finding north and more.

Back to the book’s compass, I asked children as I pointed, “If this is north and this is east, what is this (the smaller arrow)?”  Shouts of “Northeast!” came from everywhere, and with that momentum we identified all the points.

Then came the page with only words:

A strong wind came up and drifts began to form… one foot…. two feet….. three feet…… five feet…….. The snow reached the first story windows………. the second story windows…………


The children seemed to understand that more dots in the text meant more snow.  As I read the words I held my hand above the floor to the approximate height, but that wasn’t enough.  I needed to show children how much snow is two feet, etc.  A yard stick to the rescue.  I use this in my classroom more than I use a ruler.  Young children need big!  I could show them one foot, two feet, three feet.  They got it- a lot of snow!

This is everybody’s favorite page, especially after measuring with a yardstick.  It puts a visual as to how much snow we measured, and beyond:


So, Katy plowed out the roads in each location, north, south, east and west.  She helped the police, the schools, the airport, and of course the fire department.


The story does not end here.  Learning and enthusiasm isn’t a switch that turns on and off.  It grows.  Today we looked at our new foot of snow and a child said, “It looks like  “Katy and the Big Snow.”  Yes, it did.  So, we went outside without coats, and with our trusty yardstick in hand to measure the snow.


The snow was 16 inches high.  We went back inside and measured each other, the tables and chairs.  Everyone wanted to find 16 inches.  Children understood how that number on the yardstick measured the snow, and they wanted to measure, and measure again.  They understood that 16 was more than just a number.  In the eyes of the children 16 represented something concrete- eureka!  It clicked.  Boy, it was exciting to find 16 inches.

This is emergent curriculum at its best.  That means something sparks the interest of children, and a teacher builds upon it.  The most important learning, things that stick and are the foundation for more learning come from the children.  Math, science, geography, literacy, art… the list is a long one, and is greatly enhanced through emergent curriculum.  Katy and the Big Snow is a perfect example.

Oh, how I love reading-aloud and the windows that open to learning!


Posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Early Education, geography, Inspiration, Math, Nature, picture books, preschool, reading, Teaching young children | Tagged , , , | 101 Comments

First Snow

The sun is setting on the new fallen snow

Large pines rest their snow laden boughs,
ready for a winter’s night.

Night falls
and the young trees gleam,
wearing snow like children
who were sledding and playing outside today.
First snow.  No school.  Beautiful trees.  Happy children.


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