This one is true.

Jay was overwrought and over-tired by bedtime tonight.  I chose two books I hadn’t read to him before: Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen and The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn.  He took one look at the book covers and said, “I don’t like those stories!  I want action stories.  I don’t want gentle and peace and quiet stories.”

Em tried to convince him that The Kissing Hand was one of the best books ever, but nothing doing.

So I read him a nonfiction book about volcanoes.  Satiated by tales of blowing ash, hot lava, death and destruction, I was then able to read Owl Moon.

From the first line he was stock still, as if holding his breath.  He heaved a sigh when at last Pa shined the flashlight on the Owl.  Next came The Kissing Hand.  Naturally, he asked me for one of his very own as I carried him to bed.

“Can we read those stories again tomorrow Mommy?”

“Of course we can honey.”

“I want to read them every night.”

I snuggled with him for a few minutes.  Silence.  Then: “I want to go Owling sometime.”

“We can do that.”

“That story filled my body with love.”

I smile in the dark, slayed.  “Tell me how the story filled your body with love.”

“Well, it filled my body with joy and then I turned that joy into love.”

Does it get much better than that?  I didn’t think so…

And people often ask why I write children’s books.  Well, it turns out my son said it better than I ever could.  Now, Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite.  Quiet has its own kind of drama…

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Family, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , , , ,



  1. Oh my gosh, that is beyond precious. One of those moments that will last a lifetime. The Kissing Hand has always been a favorite in our house, and yes, I’ve kissed my sons’ hands plenty of times 😀 Thanks for sharing such a sweet moment with us.

  2. That’s the best bedtime story I’ve heard in ages.


  3. Such a lovely story. Thank you for sharing. I love those quiet bedtime books, and am always drawn to write them, but alas they are very hard to sell these days, and that is such a shame. The livelier books of course have their place, too, but they are not the stories that “fill your body with love.” If you haven’t read Mole Music you must check that one out – it’s one of our favorites.

    • Susanna, you are so right. I read an interview with Jane Yolen a while back where she said she didn’t think Owl Moon could get published today.

  4. What an absolutly perfect way to describe a good book. That is just so precious, Julie. Give him a kiss from all picture book people today!

  5. Wow – how absolutely sweet. That just put a smile on my face this morning. Thank you for sharing such a private moment with us!

  6. Nancy, Joanna & Jamie – Thanks!

    Megan – Will do!

  7. Great post, Julie! It reminds me that even when I must read the volcano book first, I can always go back to the quiet one later. Thank you for sharing!

  8. That’s adorable Julie and great tip to show them something with action first. Mine won’t read dreamy ones either and show them something with lots of words on each page and they walk away (although I do too 😉

  9. That just gave me the chills. What a marvelous moment!

  10. Shari…what a great story!! We read to our kids everynight until they were well into their teens. Those times were some of the best times we shared with them. One of our favourites, when the kids were young, was “Walk When the Moon is Full” by Frances Hamerstrom 1975.

  11. Thanks for sharing that precious moment. So glad you had the discipline to write it down and the graciousness to share it.

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