Susan Sarandon Reads an Animated Version of Good Night Moon … Without Crying

One’s nev­er too old to be read a sto­ry. There’s no shame in steal­ing a cou­ple of min­utes from your busy, stress-filled day to let actress Susan Saran­don read you one, above.

Good­night Moon was nev­er a part of my child­hood, but it came into heavy rota­tion when my own kids were lit­tle. It wasn’t a title they clam­ored for—in my expe­ri­ence, the intend­ed demo­graph­ic favors the junky and cringe-induc­ing over clas­sics of children’s lit­er­a­ture, but no mat­ter.

All day, I indulged their han­ker­ing for tales of preschool-aged dinosaurs who had to be taught how to share, giant sil­ly cook­ies, and a cer­tain tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter who react­ed poor­ly to being passed over as flower girl. In return, I ruled the night.

I trea­sured Good­night Moon not so much because it made them fall asleep—there are shelves upon shelves of depend­able choic­es in that department—but rather for its sim­plic­i­ty. There were no moral lessons. Noth­ing spark­ly or mag­ic or forced. Noth­ing that catered to their sup­posed whims. Author Mar­garet Wise Brown’s stat­ed aim with regard to the child read­er was “to jog him with the unex­pect­ed and com­fort him with the famil­iar.”

I approve. But there’s not a lot of jog­ging in Good­night Moon. Just that comb and that brush and that bowl­ful of mush. What a blessed relief.

As one approach­es the end, Good­night Moon begins to rival Charlotte’s Web as children’s literature’s great med­i­ta­tion on death. The cat­a­logue of all those things we’re say­ing good­night to harkens to the final scene in Our Town, when the new­ly dead Emi­ly, revis­it­ing her child­hood home, cries, “All that was going on in life and we nev­er noticed.”

Every time my small crew made it to “good­night stars, good­night air, good­night nois­es every­where,” I was croak­ing. (Not fig­u­ra­tive­ly, though a lit­tle research reveals I am not the only one to think this love­ly phrase would make a great epi­taph.)

This emo­tion­al col­lapse was equal parts cathar­tic and embar­rass­ing. What can I say? My cup ran­neth over. I was glad to learn that E. B. White’s voice betrayed him, too, record­ing Charlotte’s Web’s most poignant scene.

“Oh, earth, you’re too won­der­ful for any­body to real­ize you.”

Nar­rat­ing the light­ly ani­mat­ed sto­ry for 1999’s Good­night Moon & Oth­er Sleep­y­time Tales, Saran­don exhibits aston­ish­ing self con­trol. It’s prob­a­bly a good thing for chil­dren every­where to see that there’s at least one adult out there with the steel to sol­dier through. Her youngest child was still lit­tle when she went into the record­ing booth. If she’d want­ed, she could’ve milked it for every last drop of pathos, but I’m glad she played it straight, because most of us can’t.

(And few of us can write a book so ele­gant on a top­ic so pro­found. Sarandon’s would-be pub­lish­ers reject­ed her children’s book about a “very fun­ny rac­coon” who dies.”)

Find oth­er great sto­ries in our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Christo­pher Walken Reads Where The Wild Things Are

Free Audio: Go the F–k to Sleep Nar­rat­ed by Samuel L. Jack­son

Down­load Bryan Cranston’s Read­ing of You Have to F–king Eat as a Free Audio Book (NSFW)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author whose sole con­tri­bu­tion to the pic­ture book canon is Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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