Books Before Bedtime: The Napping House
Jul 19, 2011
While 'The Napping House' may sounds like a quiet story, it's actually a fun and hilarious picture book that's ideal for reading before bedtime. Audrey Wood's story, which was first published in 1984, is vividly illustrated by her husband, Don Wood.
About the Story
The Napping House is told with cumulative language. The story begins by introducing a rain-pounded house that contains a cozy bed. On that bed is a snoring granny. She's joined by a dreaming child, then a dozing dog and a snoozing cat. A slumbering mouse soon follows.
Each addition to the bed piles on top, straining the cozy bed. As the pile is growing, the text builds and repeats, right down to 'a snoring granny on a cozy bed in a napping house, where everyone is sleeping.'
A wakeful flea is the last to join. The flea, alas, bites the mouse, scaring the cat. This makes the cat claw the dog, who, in turn, thumps the child. The child bumps the granny, which breaks the bed. The story concludes with a suddenly sun-soaked house where no one is sleeping.
An Adjective Lesson
The Napping House is a brief story with very few words. However, the simplicity of the story is deceptive. Each sleeping person or animal is described with a different synonym for sleeping. When the flea begins the chain of events that wakes everyone from their nap, another series of unique words are used, with no repetition.
This complex diction provides an excellent opportunity to discuss adjective use and word choice with your child. It effectively captures how different words can have similar meanings. As an activity, you can ask your child to brainstorm additional synonyms for sleeping. You can also provide other synonym prompts, in which you ask your child to list synonyms for other words.
Studying the Pictures
The words aren't the only part of The Napping House warranting further study. Don Wood's illustrations are intricately detailed and comical on their own. They provide several avenues for discussion with your child.
First, ask your child to note who is present in the first picture of the granny's room. The boy, cat, dog, mouse and even the flea are all there, sleeping in different parts of the room. As one piles onto the bed, note how the others begin to move as well. Even after each one is on the bed, they change positions from page to page, rotating and flopping about.
Additionally, you can study the use of color and how it changes throughout the book. The story begins with a heavy use of gray and blue while the rain is pouring and everyone is asleep. As everyone starts to wake up, greens and yellows begin to flood the room. The change begins at the window, which is appropriately above the bed, and radiates outwards, filling the room with light. Ultimately, the playfulness and whimsy of the illustrations match the humor and silliness of the story.
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