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.

14 Responses

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  1. Michelle Ule says:

    Ah, help me! Does it work on adults?

  2. *It looks like people either love or hate this book: half give it five stars, a quarter give it one star.
    *Our #4 son was a non-sleeper. As an adult, he needs only 4-5 hours of sleep a night, with a crash nap every few days. If he had been my first child, I would have made him and me crazy putting him to bed at 7:30. As it was, his 11 PM sleep time was very handy for shuttling his teen-age brothers to and fro. I wonder if this book works well for tired kids who are overstimulated and fails for those who simply require less sleep. I can relate to a parent’s desire for something that lulls a non-sleeper into the land of nod.
    *My parents lived 900 miles away. They selected books and recorded them on cassette tape. I often fell asleep to the sound of my father reading to his grandson. Eventually, so did the grandson.

    • Janet Grant says:

      It appears the book either works wonders or not at all. I’m sure there are lots of variables, including if the child finds the story interesting. And, based on your experience, if the child is ready to go to sleep.
      From the sound of it, I’d say the taped stories worked wonders for you, at any rate.

  3. I love reading to my kiddos at night, with three active boys I count it relaxing if they are sitting down and not wrestling, pillow fighting, or launching off the couch during the story. Sounds like a great book, too bad we are on to novels with swords and magic and wild creatures attacking and…could explain all of the bedtime wresting huh?

  4. Something of an object lesson, I think, in how we often underestimate children…and adults. Kids will rise to surprising levels if they feel there’s no condescension.
    * It’s a wonderful and heartwarming success story for authors, too. Thank you for this, Janet; I hope that you and yours – and everyone in the Books and Such online community – have a wonderful Labour Day

  5. Carol Ashby says:

    So if I want a best seller, my book has to make people fall asleep? If I switch to the academic exposition style of tell-don’t show in my novels, I can manage that.

  6. I could use this book. For ME.

  7. I played the sample for my family this morning … my 15 year old laughed herself silly, while I yawned. 🙂 Since my 17 year old had just gotten out of bed, she refused to listen. 🙂
    Y’all have a good Labor Day!

  8. Janet, this book could be helpful with my two grandchildren! Thanks for the recommendation. Don’t know if you remember me or not–worked for you at Arrowhead Springs. I have many happy memories of those days at the Casita. I’ve recently began navigating my way on social media. What a geography! I do so appreciate a place for my books to have a home and a niche for blogging. All best and much favor as your write and create.

  9. Tara Johnson says:

    Very interesting. I need to download it on Audible and keep it on repeat. Perhaps it would restrain my toddler’s Tasmanian devil tendencies. 🙂