Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Not Just for Goodnights

I tend to disregard books about bedtime since I imagine most of the PBT applications happening at church, far away from homes and beds. But bedtime is about security and love, both very godly concepts! This fun picture book classic offers such an appealing story! It will connect to many important (perhaps surprising) biblical stories and ideas. 

At the end of this post, I give you links to other PBT classic picture books! There are many! 

Picture Book: Good Night, Gorilla

Author & Illustrator: Peggy Rathmann

Summary: A male zookeeper begins his loving nightly ritual by saying good night to a series of animals. At the first interaction, his cage keys are lifted from his pocket by a smiling gorilla. The gorilla opens its own and others' cages as the the sleepy zookeeper moves toward the exit and his nearby home. At his front door, you can see a long line of animal friends that he has not noticed! 

All pile into his bedroom where the zookeeper's wife is sleeping and the zookeeper is oblivious. Even the gorilla is ready for sleep so it snuggles in next to her. Dark double-page spreads follow with speech bubbles of goodnights and then only her wide eyes. 

She quietly leads them back to their home cages. Nearly home again, she says good night to the zoo, but alas, gorilla and mouse are just behind her. Gorilla looks at the reader, finger to mouth, and shushes. The sleepy humans bid each other good night again, while gorilla and mouse find their places under the covers between the humans. 

Hanna’s Comments:  There are few words here so point to and explain aspects of the story as it unfolds in the illustrations. Be sure to mention the little mouse who is an important character and on every page! It drags a banana which isn't eaten until the end. Focus on the behavior of all the characters. They are so happy, likely because they are loved so well! The evidence is the toys in their cages and the humans' loving interactions with the animals.

Original Publisher: Putnam’s, 1994

Age Appropriateness: Infant and up

Amazingly, this book is sometimes called a “baby book.” Not so! Sure, babies can enjoy it if you point to animals and tell the story, but there is much love and joy in this book so preschoolers and elementary ages will enjoy it also! It does come in board book form, BUT those are hard to read to a group!

Formats other than Book: Tablet & Audio

Scripture Connections: This story can be easily connected to scripture in these ways (more follow in the next section): God in early Genesis and beyond, who is a caretaker of each species, Noah’s ark animals who must trust Noah’s entire family for their caretaking, Disciples who followed Jesus because they felt a loving connection (not only “the 12”), The Great Commandment to love others/neighbors, rituals (With the zookeeper's excellent example, teach the importance of godly rituals at church and elsewhere.)

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: In my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum, I list this book in 2 lessons: Year A, Pentecost 10 – All are Welcome (at church, which is like a loving home) AND Year C, Easter 3 – Paul and Ananias (God sends Paul to Ananias’ loving home where Ananias becomes a sort of caretaker for a time.)

PBT Applications: Read this book at a church sleep over, emphasizing that church is a sort of home where people may be lured and welcomed with love. With older audiences, talk about what it takes for us to feel comfortable and secure. Give thanks for those who offer such environments for us. Talk about what your church can do to encourage security and comfort for strangers, visitors, and others. Equate this orientation to God's Great Commandment. 

Here are links to some other PBT posts about classic picture books! Many are from my first year in which I posted a book everyday! The last 3 are the beginning of a PBT post series called Picture Book Classics: 

The PBT Series so far:

Let me know if you think of other books I should post about!

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