My parenting discovery: Goodnight Our World books

Sarah Gelman on January 20, 2020

One of my undeniable parenting wins—and I don’t claim to have a lot in this category—is my independent discovery of the Goodnight Our World series of books. Officially called The Good Night Books Series, this is a series of board books that, as the publisher’s website states, has been created “to celebrate special places and themes in a way that young children, ages 0-5, can easily relate to and enjoy with their families.”

Most of the books take place through the course of one day, starting with morning, moving to afternoon, then to nighttime. As a parent, I loved learning that the series was in part inspired by Walt Whitman’s poems such as “Song of Myself.” Here’s just a sampling of the ways I’ve used this series in our house:

Work trip presents: Traveling as a working parent brings its own set of challenges. The guilt. The pleasure at sleeping in a clean hotel bed (then the subsequent guilt). The frantic search for a “present” to bring home to your children. Luckily, my job takes me to a lot of bookstores, and I started collected the Good Night Books in different cities I traveled to. Some of our favorites are Good Night New York City, Good Night Austin, and Good Night San Francisco. While my kids haven’t traveled to any of these cities, they now know a little bit about the places Mommy goes for work, and what they can look forward to when we visit as a family.

Holidays and seasons: One of my favorite memories of growing up is celebrating holidays and the changing of the seasons in school and at home. Every year for Halloween, for instance, we took out our cardboard decorations and hung them on the windows with tape. I still think about the witch that hung on our door and how we could arrange her limbs into different poses. Now I love incorporating books into these traditions. Good Night Halloween is a great way to prepare little kids for what may be a spooky or confusing holiday, especially if they’re too young to associate it with candy. I just packed away Good Night Christmas, Good Night Christmas Tree, and Good Night Hanukkah into a box marked “Holiday Books: Open After Thanksgiving.” Now that we’re squarely in winter, I’ll order Good Night Snow.

Tools to prepare for vacations: I’m fully ensconced in the toddler years and the concept of “transitions.” (For those non-parents, that’s the term for getting a kid ready to move from one activity to the next.) So I’m frequently thinking of ways to prepare my boys for events as small as bedtime, and as big as a trip. These books have been invaluable in preparing us for travel. We bought Good Night Pittsburgh prior to our first time traveling back to my hometown, and it’s still fun to read with my kids and see drawings of places they’ve been. Last summer we spent time on Nantucket, and since I booked the trip a year in advance, I had a year of reading Good Night Nantucket to prepare the kids with pictures of places they might see on our vacation. My older son loves Good Night Israel. While that plane ride is a bit too long for me to undertake now with my kids, I love that he has an international destination on his bucket list.

Supporting a hobby: I’ve mentioned before that my older son is obsessed with airplanes, and has been since before he turned one. We have well-loved copies of both Good Night Planes and Good Night Aerospace Museum, but there’s really something for everything a little one could love. Dinosaurs, Trucks, Astronauts, Baby Animals, Yoga, Unicorns, Dump Truck, Fire Engine… It goes on and on. As a parent, there’s nothing like discovering a new book that fits your child’s hobby, especially if that hobby is obscure.

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