Beyond Bedtime: Make Your Travel Plans with Good Night America

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Goodnight MoonFrom a Classic Bedtime Story:
Goodnight Moon became a trusted bedtime friend early in B’s infancy. As his language skills improved, he began to chime in or fill in the blanks as I read - an indicator of the success of the repetition, rhythm, and rhyme of the story. Admittedly, I found it a little odd to wish the comb, brush, and bowl full of mush a goodnight, but there is something quite lulling in the cadence of the book, and the final lines are especially soothing and peaceful: “Goodnight stars, goodnight air. Goodnight noises, everywhere.”

To an Up-to-Date Exploration Book Series:
Good Night World (Good Night Our World series)Our comfort with Goodnight Moon contributed to the interest piqued in Adam Gamble’s Good Night World series. I purchased Good Night America first, and have since added Good Night California, Good Night Hawaii, Good Night World, Good Night Beach, and Good Night Zoo to our collection. Soothing cadences of rhythm and rhyme they are not, but they are reading treasures nonetheless.

One page reads, “Greetings, Everglades, home to alligators and so many other creatures.” (Good Night America) The structure of the text is appropriate for toddlers, but parents and caregivers will find themselves surprised by the complexity of the vocabulary introduced in a board book. Sometimes the word introduced is a proper noun, like Everglades, giving you the opportunity to discuss this person or place. Perhaps you already have some experience with it or maybe you’ll consider including it in your next family vacation.

 Travel Plans:
We have hopes to share some of the features of the book with B and T, like the Everglades, Grand Canyon, and California Redwoods. B is old enough to be curious about where these things are, and he can make the connection that the pictures in the books show something real. Reading about those elements we are familiar with invites discussion of our experiences and memories. Good Night America also features a desert, a beach, and a big city: places we can relate to our travels. B is pictured here with his papa admiring the “bright city lights” of Las Vegas.

The Sprout Connection:
Children learn what they are exposed to – this vocabulary is not too difficult provided it is supported by an adult reader who doesn’t rush through cover to cover. B has learned to recite several of this series along with us – challenging vocabulary and all. The key to making this an opportunity for growth and meaning is not just teaching your child to recite the words, but to enrich her vocabulary and her knowledge of the world around her through reading, illustration, and discussion. And if you have the opportunity to support the reading experience with a real-life field trip, that knowledge will be further deepened.

Your Developing Child:
The opportunities for cognitive development are many with this series – as I mentioned, the vocabulary affords many learning opportunities. What I love most though, is the opportunity to connect the books to reality, whether that’s on a family vacation or a visit to a local zoo. Differentiating between fantasy and reality is a cognitive skill acquired during the preschool years, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait until then to discuss it – compare Goodnight Moon to Good Night America with your child. Which characters and places are real and which are not? Also, engage your child in discussion of the places in the books that you have visited. Did you visit today? Yesterday? Months ago? Will you go there soon? Discussion of the passage of time will help to solidify his or her concept of time and memory – another preschool developmental milestone.

Appropriate for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, on up!

Have you read any books with your child that made you want to call the travel agent? Tell me about them!


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