Tuesday, June 30, 2009

REVIEW: The BIG Sleep Book

Van Genechten, G. (2008). The BIG Sleep Book. New York: Clavis Publishing Inc.


Originally published abroad in Dutch in 2005, The BIG Sleep Book was first published in English in 2008.

This board book is just what the title would imply—a book all about sleep. It begins with it being time for bed for young Josh and goes on to share the locations and ways various animals sleep. The illustrations are pleasant and humorous, showing the animals sleeping with smiles on their faces in some funny positions.

The story includes one sentence of dialogue, so a parent or teacher could encourage a young child to repeat or “read” the spoken portions of the text after they’ve heard the story many times.

The story also lends itself to having an early reader name the various animals showed (they are never actually named by the text) or in one case to count the sheep present in the illustration:

Personally, I feel like it may be a slight problem to imply “everybody” sleeps at night as the first sentence of the book does. While it provides an argument for having troublesome toddlers go to sleep “because the book says so,” it also shows a bat sleeping at night, which kids will later learn is not the case. Another flaw of this is that as a child, I can remember fighting with my parents in the summer months over not wanting to go to bed because it wasn’t dark outside yet. If only I’d had this book to show my parents and say, “See…I don’t have to go to bed until it’s night and dark out.” Of course, any parent could point at the clock on the wall in the illustration and argue 7 PM, no matter the time of year, is bedtime. But in my head, this argumentative toddler version of myself would not have been able to read a clock yet and so would have found this counter-argument suspect.

Activities to Do with the Book:

A great book for bedtime. It’s less ideal for naptime, since it reinforces the idea of sleeping when it’s dark. It presents the idea that it’s okay to sleep in different places or positions depending on what is comfortable for the individual.

This can be an excellent book to share with young children who are anxious about going to sleep since the book shows each of the animals smiling as they snooze.

Favorite Quotes:

“Everybody goes to sleep at night.”

“Some sleep on their tummies in the mud.”

“Others sleep on their backs in the grass.”

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