This article originally appeared on Yahoo Parenting and was reprinted with permission.
Good news for parents of children who either refuse to go to bed or have sleeping issues: A book called The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep promises to change that.
While the book was published in April 2014, it’s recently skyrocketed in popularity, topping the Amazon bestseller list — a first for a self-published book — and even outselling Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train. And its Facebook page has 20,000 likes and rave reviews from parents who bought the book. According to Amazon, Roger’s story is “a quick and guaranteed way to help your child relax in the evening or during a nap.”
The 26-page book, written by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, a Swedish psychologist and linguist, uses psychological tricks and positive-reinforcement methods to soothe children to sleep. The premise is simple: Roger the Rabbit is so tired but he can’t fall asleep, so he and Mommy Rabbit visit “Uncle Yawn.” On their way, they bump into Sleepy Snail and Heavy-Eyed Owl, both of whom offer advice on how to catch some z’s. After Uncle Yawn sprinkles magical sleeping powder on Roger, he’s able to make it home and fall asleep in his bed.
Kids are encouraged to yawn throughout the story and emphasize key phrases to help them drift off, and parents can insert their child’s name into the story to immerse them.
How legit is the book as a sleep aid? Very, if you take these ominous warnings seriously: “Even if this book is harmless to use, the author and the publisher take no responsibility for the outcome,” and parents are discouraged from reading the book “close to someone driving any type of vehicle.”
“It’s the verbal equivalent of rocking your child to sleep,” Ehrlin, of Jonkoping University in Sweden, told the U.K.’s Daily Express. “[It helps] the child focus on relaxation and become part of the story.”
And parents on Amazon agree. While the book only has 14 reader reviews, it’s acquired 4.4 stars. “Both of us were asleep before the book was over. [Definitely] becoming part of our bedtime routine!” one parent wrote after reading the story to her “night owl” son. Wrote another, “Our 9 month old daughter has been wild at bedtime, and we’ve tried so many methods of calming her, but this has been the first thing to get her into sleep mode in under 20 minutes.”
Even a person named Jacob, who gave the book only 1 star, could hardly critique its effectiveness, although he did have a valid concern. “Bought the audio book so I could have my son listen to it in the car,” he wrote. “But I ended up falling asleep at the wheel and crashed my car. This book ended up costing me $3,000 for all the damages to my car, and ended up putting my son’s and my life in danger. I definitely do not recommend this product, and warn people not to listen to it in their car.”
Roger’s exhaustive search for sleep is reminiscent of the 1947 classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Unlike the fantastical nature of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, Goodnight Moon used a style of writing called the “here and now” to make bedtime tempting to children. According to a story published by Mental Floss, back then, narratives that focused on children’s daily routines were unexplored territory, which contributed to the book’s success. The modern bedtime story has evolved to books such as the 2011 bestseller Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, dubbed a “children’s book for adults.”
As the mother of a 13-month-old boy who isn’t sleep-trained, I’ve ordered The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, and I’m eager to embark on Roger’s adventure — even if I don’t stay awake to finish the story.
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