Monday, November 26, 2012

Grandfather Twilight

Title: Grandfather Twilight
Author and Illustrator: Barbara Helen Berger
Copyright Date: 1984
Genre: Fiction
Theme: night, twilight, sleep, personification
Grades: Preschool and up
Awards: Parent's Choice Foundation Award for Illustration, Washington State Governor's Writer's Award (Source)


The story follows the nightly ritual of Grandfather Twilight, a kind old soul who lives deep in the forest. Each night he takes a pearl from his chest and proceeds to go on a walk. As he goes, the pearl becomes larger and larger with each step, but still he walks on.

What will happen to Grandfather Twilight and his pearl before he returns home? Read this book to find out.

Pre-reading Activity

The character of Grandfather Twilight is a great example of personification. Hold a mini-lesson on what personification is, the attributing human characteristics or feeling on inanimate objects or phenomena. Then present them with the title of the book and the front cover. Ask them who they think Grandfather Twilight is and from his name and the way he is shown, what do they think will happen in the book.  

During Reading Activity

While the story is going, stop and offer chances to predict what is going to happen. With the large number of pages that lack text, have students analyze the pictures for how they continue the plot without the text. What is going on in the picture and what does that say about what's happening in the story?

Post-reading Activity

After the story is over, younger students can write about their own nighttime rituals. What do you do when you are going to bed? Do you take a bath, change into pajamas, hear a bedtime story? 

Older students may find it fun to write their own story of how night phenomena  occurs. Possible questions to answer with a story could include the following: How do the stars shine? What makes a shooting star? Who are owls asking questions of? Why does it get dark when the sun sets?

Author and Illustrator

Barbara Berger worked as an artist for ten years before focusing on children's books. Since then, she has written and illustrated ten books, including Animalia, Thunder Bunny, and A Lot of Otters, combining different styles of art from Tibetan to Medieval illuminated manuscripts. For her work she has received many awards, including the prestigious Golden Kite Award for Picture Illustration. She currently lives in Washington. (Sources: here and here)


This was my favorite bedtime story growing up, only rivaled by Goodnight Moon. It's calming tone and gorgeous illustrations make it a great story for when you are putting a little one down for bed or sharing a quiet moment with a class. Whether its to examine literary elements such as personification or mood or just as an entertaining treat, this book is sure to please. I highly recommend it. 

If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here

Barbara Berger has shared her thoughts on the strong response fans of this book have given her, in this section from her website:

"Over the years, many people have told me about the peaceful hush that comes over a child, even a roomful of children, with the reading of Grandfather Twilight. When I created the book, I could only hope that something of the serenity I feel, myself, at twilight might come through the words and art. But I never dreamed that so many children would truly love it as they do, ask for it over and over again, find solace for fears of the dark and sometimes, even for the loss of a parent or grandparent. I never dreamed that Grandfather Twilight would have such a wonderful long life as a book, nor such a wide reach among children and adults alike, from the youngest to the oldest. To this day, it seems a miracle to me." (Source)

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