The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Labor Day seems like the perfect day to take a nap. The idea behind the holiday, which was created in 1885 to celebrate workers’ contributions to the economic and social well-being of America, is for people to take the day off from their labors and relax. I love that!

Before you drift off to Lullaby Land, though, I want to introduce you to the summer’s biggest surprise best-selling book. Entitled The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep: A New Way of Getting Children to Sleep, the picture book promises on its cover, “I can make anyone fall asleep.”

Beyond the sweeping promise of your blissfully nodding off, the book is unusual because:The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

  • This children’s book was self-published in Swedish (via CreateSpace) in 2011 by Swedish behavioral scientist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin. It became an immediate hit and was translated into English in 2014.
  • The story is about a skinny bunny who is having trouble falling sleep. Uncle Yawn, the Heavy-Eyed Owl, and Sleepy Snail make suggestions to help Roger nod off, such as slowing down his breathing. The book, in essence, teaches the child a number of methods to relax and therefore tumble into Mr. Sandman’s arms.
  • The book’s secret sauce is that the author uses subliminal suggestions about falling sleep. The parent reading the book is directed to emphasize the words in bold and to slow down when reading the italicized words. Also, the reader is prompted to yawn at certain times. You can hear a sample of the book being read here. (Click the “listen” button.) Be prepared to immediately feel your eyes sliding closed–at least that’s the effect it had on me; lots of “s” sounds are in the words. Here’s a news report on the book, which shows you the interior and gives you a closer look at it. Note that one of the broadcast journalists was fairly salivating to get his hands on the book.
  • Its sales for one week, the week of August 22, were 18,585 copies in the UK. That made it the #2 best-seller in that nation, and the first time a book conceived on CreateSpace had been in the top 50. At the time I wrote this post, the book was ranked #96 of all books on the Amazon US site (even though it’s only available for pre-order currently–see two points down for more details).
  • At times this summer in the US it outsold Go Set a Watchman and E.L. James’s Grey.
  • Penguin Random House made a book deal with the author to release the picture book in both the US and the UK. The US edition will come out October 2 with a new cover, some “refreshed” interior illustrations, and a wee bit of editing.
  • It’s 26 pages long, and if you check out a few of the spreads, you’ll see that each page is pretty word dense. It does have illustrations, but for a kid’s book, the child won’t find much to look at. Presumably because the sweet little one slips into Dreamland a few pages into the story.

Clearly The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has soothed sleep-deprived parents with the notion that reading to a child about Roger the Rabbit is a magic elixir. Just what the doctor ordered. Oh, wait, apparently doctors are ordering that parents buy the book and give it a try. Personally, I think I need a copy.

Now, it’s time for you to toddle off for that Labor Day slumber.


Self-published children’s book becomes a best-seller. Click to tweet.

A book that met a need in an innovative way. Click to tweet.