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99% Invisible / – 415 Goodnight Nobody [rebroadcast]

99% Invisible – 415- Goodnight Nobody [rebroadcast]

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In this rebroadcast of “99% Invisible” episode 415, titled “Goodnight Nobody,” the focus is on the influential children’s librarian Anne-Carole Moore and her impact on children’s literature and libraries. The episode explores Moore’s complicated legacy, her creation of the children’s reading room at the New York Public Library, and the story behind the beloved children’s book, “Goodnight Moon.”

Main Takeaways

The Legacy of Anne-Carole Moore

  • Anne-Carole Moore revolutionized libraries by creating the concept of a children’s reading room with child-friendly furniture, toys, and books.
  • Prior to Moore’s efforts, libraries were only for adults, and children were often banned from entering.
  • Moore’s goal was to provide working-class children with access to literature and create a childhood experience for them.
  • Moore’s legacy shows the importance of libraries and the impact of librarians on the books we read.

The Creation of the Children’s Reading Room

  • Anne Carroll Moore created a dedicated children’s reading room at the New York Public Library, with kid-sized furniture and benches built into the windows.
  • The reading room was filled with shell collections, butterflies, and dozens of bowls of freshly cut flowers to provide poor kids from the tenements access to the beauty of the natural world.
  • Moore filled the shelves of the new reading room with hundreds and eventually thousands of children’s books, not locked in a cabinet or in a rich kid’s nursery, but out in the open, for any child to pick up, leave through, and read.

The Influence of Anne-Carole Moore on Children’s Literature

  • Moore convinced the library going public that books like the Velveteen Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, and the works of Beatrix Potter were in fact art, which was instrumental in establishing children’s literature as literature.
  • Moore was in charge of choosing the books that the children’s departments of all those libraries acquired, and her list of favorite upcoming books was used by other librarians across the country.
  • Anne Carroll Moore was the most dominant children’s book reviewer and chief purchaser for books in the country in the 1920s and 30s.

The Controversy Surrounding Anne-Carole Moore

  • Moore had too much power, and her list of favorite upcoming books was used by other librarians across the country.
  • She favored magical stories that felt pastoral and twee over real-world problems and messy ideas.
  • Bank Street Cooperative School for student teachers in Greenwich Village believed that picture books ought to be stories about modern urban life.
  • Bank Street’s approach influenced an entire generation of children’s book authors towards progressive schools and letting children guide their own learning experience.

The Story Behind “Goodnight Moon”

  • Margaret Wise Brown, a former Bank Street teacher, managed to make the Bank Street style come alive with her book, “Goodnight Moon.”
  • Brown’s books for children were poems that encouraged novel ways of seeing and describing the world around them.
  • Brown bridged the divide between the two factions of children’s literature by combining elements of documentary realism and magical escapism in her stories.
  • “Goodnight Moon” was inspired by Brown’s own ritual of counting her blessings and focusing on objects in her room, which she reversed to create a list to read before falling asleep.


Anne-Carole Moore’s Impact on Children’s Literature and Libraries

Anne-Carole Moore revolutionized libraries by creating the concept of a children’s reading room, providing working-class children with access to literature and a childhood experience. She filled the shelves with thousands of children’s books, establishing children’s literature as art. However, her influence was controversial, favoring magical stories over real-world problems. Bank Street Cooperative School’s approach influenced authors towards progressive schools. Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon” exemplifies the blend of realism and escapism in children’s literature.

The Legacy of “Goodnight Moon”

“Goodnight Moon” started as a list of objects in a little bunny’s bedroom and became a beloved children’s book. Despite initial disapproval from Anne-Carole Moore, the book gained popularity in the 1950s due to the baby boom era. It has since sold millions of copies and remains a cherished bedtime story for children.


Anne-Carole Moore’s influence on children’s literature and libraries cannot be denied, despite the controversy surrounding her choices. Her dedication to providing access to literature for children and creating a childhood experience shaped the way libraries are designed and the books that children read. “Goodnight Moon” stands as a testament to the power of children’s literature and its ability to captivate young readers for generations.

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