'Sinister' Kids' Book Makes Children 'Conk Out'

'The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep' functions like hypnosis, doctor says
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2015 5:30 PM CDT
Updated Aug 22, 2015 7:00 AM CDT
Children's Book Designed to Make Kids 'Conk Out'
The cover of "The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep."   (Amazon)

A new children's book isn't just written for kids—it's written to make them fall asleep, and fast. Author Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin, a Swedish behavioral psychologist, says he filled The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep with psychological reinforcement techniques to make young listeners doze off in minutes, the Independent reports. "These [techniques] are formed in a way to help the child relax, fall asleep faster and sleep calmer every night," Forssen Ehrlin says. "The tale gives suggestions to the child's unconscious mind to sleep." Not only does protagonist Roger The Rabbit encounter characters like Sleep Snail, Heavy-Eyed Owl, and Uncle Yawn, but parent-readers are instructed to yawn often and speak italicized words in a calm and slow manner, the Telegraph reports. Think it's bizarre? Well, it's the first self-published book to top Amazon's best-seller list.

Forssen Ehrlin says he got the idea on a long road trip when his mom dozed off, and he realized the power of his techniques. He devised a story within three years, and saw the Swedish version published in 2011; the English translation appeared last year. In the story, Roger The Rabbit "is just like the child" in needing to fall asleep, a doctor tells CBS News. "So the whole time, you're talking about sleep, you're trying to solve a problem about sleep and you see how the character falls asleep." But while Amazon reviews are mostly glowing, Imogen Williams at the Guardian considers the book's manipulation "sinister" and "terrifying": "Bedtime stories are not, to me, about deceiving your child into conking out," she writes, and vows to continue her "bedtime pilgrimages up and down the stairs. After all, there’s always gin." (See 15 sad, strange things that keep us awake at night.)

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