Goodnight, Good Dog

Book review by
Bess Maher, Common Sense Media
Goodnight, Good Dog Book Poster Image
Restless pup falls asleep in lyrical bedtime story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

An early introduction to poetic language.

Positive Messages

Thinking positive thoughts about tomorrow will help you get to sleep.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The dog is able to fall asleep on his own. The little girl is nice to her dog.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Goodnight, Good Dog written by Mary Lyn Ray (author of Stars -- a New York Times bestseller and winner of the E.B. White Honor -- among other children's books) and illustrated by Rebecca Malone is a simple bedtime story about a family dog who can't fall asleep at bedtime. The language is poetic but accessible, and children may recognize themselves in the dog.

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What's the story?

The unnamed narrator of GOODNIGHT, GOOD DOG refers to "the dog," but the book is really from his point of view. The dog recognizes the signs of bedtime from the click of the lamp to the hum of the refrigerator. But the dog isn’t ready to go to sleep. He remembers playing in the sun, words he heard during the day, and other interactions as he tries to fall asleep. But his slow walk through the house with its soothing signs of sleep lulls him, and perhaps the book’s listeners, into a sleepy state. In the end, though, it’s the promise of dreaming of the day that lets him fall asleep, and before he knows it, he hears a friendly, "Good morning, good dog."

Is it any good?

The simple but well-defined illustrations and the poetic but accessible language, as well as the familiar pattern of a bedtime book, makes this a sure favorite with parents and kids alike. Examples of Ray's poetic language include phrases such as "small night sounds," "moon quiet," and "the yellow ball of sun," and most young children should be able to understand such figurative language.

The dog is only able to fall asleep because he believes he can dream back the sun, which is the book's hook. Toddlers may not be able to grasp that concept, but three- and especially four-years-olds should be able to. Parents of poor sleepers may grimace about the dog's restless behavior at bedtime, but in the end the dog is able to fall asleep. Moreover, the rhythmic language, peaceful imagery, and the dog’s eventual sleepy state make this a nice bedtime book, and the promise of more playtime in the morning will resonate with young kids of a range of ages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sleep. What helps you get to sleep?

  • Are the sun, blue sky, and green grass at the end real or are they part of the dog’s dream? What might you dream about tonight?

  • How is nighttime different from daytime at your house?

Book details

For kids who love dogs

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