Those Gentle Times

“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and in sleepy times, a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.

Margaret Wise Brown

Although most of us enjoy seeing children with spirit, with the vim and vigor of youth, with a lot of dash and rattle (until they wear us down!), we should realize their need for periods of quietness—a resting, a time for thought, for musings , and for imagination. Many classic books for children as well as contemporary ones provide adventure and frenetic action—Robinson Crusoe, Huckleberry Finn, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, SHREK, for example—but Margaret Wise Brown books have a quieter, gentler feel. Perhaps, that is largely because they are for very young children. But her books were thought radical at the time they were written (1940s and 1950s) for their lack of concentration on the didactic. She was considered a rebel in many ways, not the least of which were those having to do with improprieties in her personal life. But her books have a gentle beauty of thought, form, and image (in my opinion and others) that have so far stood the test of time.

GOODNIGHT MOON, likely her best-known book, is not only quiet and gentle but deals with the common world of a young child. It’s a bedtime storybook for the ages, a lullaby in prose. “Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush. And goodnight to the old lady whispering ‘hush’.”

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