How “Goodnight Moon” Evolves Each School Year

Language is #1 for children, and literacy is the road to developing their language.  I read picture books to children all the time, and chapter read at rest time.  Books are always available to children.  They become ‘good friends’ and are as popular as toys.  Really.

I don’t know when I began reading chapter books aloud at rest time.  It was one of those ‘teacher moments’ when it just felt right.  So, I did, and it’s my favorite time of the day.  Children are eager to hear ‘what happens next’.  If you don’t know, the late Jim Trelease, author of the million-copy bestseller The Read-Aloud Handbook, the guru of reading aloud, visited my classroom to hear me read to children, especially at chapter reading.

But there’s more; the everyday constant, the precursor to chapter reading – Goodnight Moon.

I recite the book before chapter reading.  It gets children ready to listen to words.  The rhyming words and objects in the book are soothing and exciting.  Think of Goodnight Moon as a warmup for the brain, much like a physical workout for a sports team- invigorating and a routine that is always comfortable.

When the school year starts, I spend many months reciting Goodnight Moon before chapter reading.  Once the book is ingrained I change it, incorporating children’s names into the verse (“…there was Sam’s telephone, and a picture of Carla jumping over the moon…”).  My goodness, the alert antenna are activated, and the words become even more important.

I often read the words to beats and rhythm.  Jennie’s Rap is very popular.  By springtime the children know the words, and the Helper of the Day can come up and recite the words along with Jennie.  This is a big deal!  Every child is excited, and many can say some of the words on their own.  By the end of the school year, children are proud and strong, and a few can recite the entire book on their own.

This is remarkable for a child who is just four-years-old to recite an entire book, yet she has been listening to Goodnight Moon since September, listening to every picture book and every chapter reading book.  That’s what happens to children who have a big blanket of ‘words’.  By the way, those children do better in all academic areas in school.

“People would stand in line for days and pay hundreds of dollars if there were a pill that could do everything for a child that reading aloud does.  It expands their interest in books, vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, and attention span.  Simply put, it’s a free ‘oral vaccine’ for literacy.”  ~Jim Trelease~ 

Thank goodness I get to read to children every day!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, Jim Trelease, literacy, picture books, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to How “Goodnight Moon” Evolves Each School Year

  1. beth says:

    I love y0u sharing your inspiration and reasons for doing this. the impact it has on children for the rest of their lives, is huge –

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Beth. It’s why we we what we do, and it has a huge impact on children for the rest of their lives. I really do love to share the backstory, I always feel inspired, too. 🙂

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I like “a free ‘oral vaccine’ for literacy” and agree. Well said, both Jim and any 4 y.o. child who can recite an entire book.

    • Jennie says:

      That is exactly the phrase that hits me like a lightening bolt. So true!! Thank you, Jim, and Scarlett reciting the book is proof.

  3. K.L. Hale says:

    Jennie! She is amazing! When I read Jim visited your room I was completely overjoyed! His guidebook, undoubtedly, taught us all how to teach reading. Watching this precious girl is heartwarming and hopeful. Language and literacy are key! You’ve given me ideas on reading Goodnight Moon to the grands this weekend. Many times, I don’t have time to add their names. You keep us sharpened, Jennie. Thank you for being an inspiration and please tell this precious girl what an amazing reader she is! And obviously, a great little human. Just as YOU! 💕🥰💛

    • Jennie says:

      She really is amazing…and she comes from a family and classroom where books and reading aloud are always there. No wonder she is smart as a whip. Yes, it is a joy to watch her recite the book. Karla, once your grands have heard the book a gazillion times, you can interject anything- family names, animal names, food names. Really. It brings the words to life. You can recite it in rhythm. Go with what your gut says. Thank you for your very kind words!❤️

      • K.L. Hale says:

        Thank you, Jennie! I thought of you when I was reading to them last night. All those years I spent reading and the years, I didn’t, and how it feels so good to “watch” little ones grow in language and literacy again. I thank you so much for your inspiration and wisdom! 🥰💛❤️

      • Jennie says:

        That is so nice of you to say, Karla. Thank you! Like you, I spent years reading and years not reading. Watching children grow is a tremendous thing. 😍

      • K.L. Hale says:

        You’re welcome, Jennie! Yes! ❤️

  4. Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

    Wonderful — I believe I mentioned to you I have an Italian mother. She always focused on reading aloud to us (four kids) at dinner. When we didn’t know a word (LOL- maybe she didn’t either), she wrote the word down and had us look it up in the dictionary. When I was in College, she would send me words/phrases from the British shows she watched on PBS, because she liked their expressions better than the American ones.

    • Jennie says:

      Monica, this is so interesting! Yes, I remember your Italian mother. This reminds me of Auntie Mame, who told stories and had the boy write down any words he didn’t know. Your mother was a determined woman, wanting to get English ‘just right’. No wonder she liked some of the British words/phrases better. You must love it now, yet not so much back in the day.

      • Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

        Oh, I remember Auntie Mame, what a story. It’s good for children to build their vocabulary. I’m sure you do that with them too. There’s someone who used to always write a sentence with 5 words every Friday. That would be fun for kids to do. It can be challenging.

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, it’s a great story. Building vocabulary is huge. I don’t remember the show/story about writing a five word sentence. Great idea!

      • Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

        It will be fun! Give them a sheet full of words. Every Friday, they CHOOSE the five words they want to form a sentence. Even for me, it makes me STOP and I have to think if I want to create an “interesting” sentence. Ok, have a nice Memorial Day weekend.

      • Jennie says:

        Really terrific! You are as involved as the children. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.

  5. willowdot21 says:

    What a lovely post 💜

  6. Such a clever idea, tying the children into the story. I bet school and learning is a lot of fun.

  7. Esoterica says:

    Amazing! My mother was an early education teacher and always emphasized the importance of reading. It’s so important. The confidence that little gift exudes is just beautiful! 💕

  8. Ritu says:

    So good to see this!

  9. beetleypete says:

    A sweet little girl, but remarkable memory skills too. Well done, Jennie!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  10. Jennie, you are simply amazing. I love that you add the names of the children to the story. Hugs.

  11. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post today, Jennie.

  12. Don Ostertag says:

    I envy you, Jennie. I love to read books tp children but all the grandkids are too old to be read to.

    • Jennie says:

      I understand. Have you thought about reading to children at your public library? I approached my library and asked if i could read aloud. I had an age group and date schedule in mind. They were thrilled. Don, I hope you ask your children’s librarian if you can set up a “Read Aloud With Don.”

  13. All so wonderful! Kids LOVE hearing their names in books, stories, and poems!

  14. Fraggle says:

    Fabulous stuff Jennie!

  15. How very lucky for them that you do!!♥️

  16. quiall says:

    It is such a simple thing and yet it can change the world, indeed it already does. Children are our future and by giving them the tools to mould it we are creating a positive future.

  17. I’ve probably told you this story before, but when my eldest child was little, we had a picture book of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which I read aloud to her often because she loved it so much. When she was two years old she could recite the entire poem from memory, and never passed up an opportunity to do so. 🙂

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    More moments of brilliance, Jennie. I can envision the kids listening closely to see if their names will be part of the verse. The video of the young girl is precious. Language development at its finest, and you’ve given your students safe opportunities to be successful.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Pete. Yes, listening for their name is exactly what they do! You can imagine how thrilled her parents were to see that video. I got to see their faces as they watched. 🙂 Language development really is everything, and building upon this one book works. Every year. Of course you have walked that wonderful walk, too.

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for another wonderful post!

  20. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please enjoy this wonderful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

  21. Darlene says:

    OMG!! How precious! You get to work with the most amazing age group!

  22. The seeds of joy you plant now will flourish into a beautiful jungle tomorrow.
    You are a excellent teacher Jennie!

  23. Dan Antion says:

    This is a lovely post, Jennie. Your young reader is delightful to listen to.

  24. dgkaye says:

    It’s surely a classic Jennie, that all young kids love. ❤

  25. She did very well indeed!! This is a fabulous gift you’re giving the children, Jennie. One that will last a life time. 😍

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s