GOODNIGHT, SOON: The (Questionable) Ethics of a Bestselling Bedtime Book
Thus begins The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, currently the bestselling book on Amazon:
That’s right – the bestselling of all the books. It was also the lead story in Children’s Bookshelf from Publishers Weekly yesterday.
The subtitle for the book is A New Way of Getting Children to Sleep. That new way, apparently, is hypnosis. Here’s a quote:
This self-published book, written by Swedish behavioral psychologist and linguist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin, is about a rabbit (named – oh, boy – Roger) who would like to fall asleep, but can’t. He goes to see his Uncle (are you really even wondering what the uncle is named??) Yawn for help.
The story uses “powerful psychological techniques” including “specially constructed sentences and choices of words” for “relaxation”. Another quote:
It’s selling the promise of putting kids to sleep, although it does come with this “disclairner”:
Harmless?! How about that whole warning at the beginning, implying if someone was operating a vehicle within earshot, they’d go careening off the nearest cliff?
Look, I could pull quotes and riff all day, but I wanted to at least give it a fair chance to do what it says it does.
So I read it to my kids last night.
It was the most excruciating reading experience I can recall.
In the interest of complete honesty, I should say that I tried to read it to my kids, but couldn’t get past page 10. So I can’t quite attest to the sleep-enducing power of the book.
How anyone could trudge through the entire thing, I don’t know. Lots of kids have a hard time sleeping, and desperate parental times for for desperate parental measures – I get it – but if you read this to your kids, you’re only punishing yourself
And, more importantly, is it even ethical to do this? Reading what amounts to Hypnotism for Dummies to an unsuspecting child?
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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