Goodnight Moon is classic children's literature in North America. The text is a rhyming poem, describing an anthropomorphic bunny's bedtime ritual of saying "good night" to various objects in the bunny's bedroom: a red balloon, the bunny's dollhouse, two kittens, etc.
Illustrator Clement Hurd claims that initially the book was to be published using the pseudonym Memory Ambrose for Brown, with his illustrations credited to Hurricane Jones. (Jones is the name of a character in Five Little Firemen by Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd.
Goodnight Moon slowly became a bestseller. Annual sales grew from about 1,500 copies in 1953 to 20,000 in 1970; by 1990, the total number of copies sold was more than 4 million. Currently, the book sells about 800,000 copies annually and in 2017 has sold an estimated 48 million copies cumulatively. Goodnight Moon has been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Catalan, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Korean, and Hmong.
Brown, who died in 1952, bequeathed the royalties to the book to (among many others) Albert Clarke, who was the nine-year-old son of a neighbor when Brown died. In 2000, reporter Joshua Prager detailed in the Wall Street Journal the troubled life of Mr. Clarke who has squandered the millions of dollars the book has earned him and who believes that Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss.
In 2005, publisher HarperCollins digitally altered the photograph of illustrator Hurd, which had been on the book for at least twenty years, to remove a cigarette. Its editor-in-chief for children's books, Kate Jackson said, "It is potentially a harmful message to very young [children]." HarperCollins had the reluctant permission of Hurd's son, Thacher Hurd, but the younger Hurd said the photo of Hurd with his arm and fingers extended, holding nothing, "looks slightly absurd to me". HarperCollins has said it will likely replace the picture with a different, unaltered photo of Hurd in future editions. In response, a satirical article demanded the removal of other potentially dangerous objects in the book, such as the fireplace and balloon (a choking hazard for young children).
In addition to multiple octavo and duodecimo paperback editions, Goodnight Moon is available in a board book edition, a book whose pages are actually stiff cardboard to make it suitable to give to a very young child, as well as a "jumbo" edition, suitable for use with large groups.1991, USA, HarperFestival ISBN 0-694-00361-1, Pub date 30 September 1991, board book
1997, USA, HarperCollins ISBN 0-06-027504-9, Pub date 28 February 1997, Hardback 50th anniversary edition
2007, USA, HarperCollins ISBN 0-694-00361-1, Pub date 23 January 2007, Board book 60th anniversary edition
In 2008, Thacher Hurd used his father's artwork from Goodnight Moon to produce Goodnight Moon 123: A Counting Book. In 2010 HarperCollins used artwork from the book to produce Goodnight Moon's ABC: An Alphabet Book.
In 2015, Loud Crow Interactive Inc. released a Goodnight Moon interactive app.
Based on a 2007 on-line poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". In 2012 it was ranked number four among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal.
Author Susan Cooper writes that the book is possibly the only "realistic story" to gain the universal affection of a fairy-tale, although she also noted that it is actually a "deceptively simple ritual" rather than a story.
In 1993, the Warner Bros. animated television series Animaniacs's first episode, in its first season, included a light spoof of Goodnight Moon named "Nighty-Night Toon".
In an episode of Dinosaurs, Grandma Ethyl reads Baby Sinclair a book entitled Goodnight Rock, which parodies Goodnight Moon.
Berkeley Breathed teased fans with the possible death of his iconic character Opus at the end of his self-titled comic strip. The final strip directs fans to visit the website for the American Humane Society where they would discover Opus sleeping safe and sound at the end of a copy of Goodnight Moon.
The Goodnight Moon Game, by Briar Patch, is a memory game for very young children. It won a 1998 Parents' Choice Gold Award and a 1999 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.
The story was read in an episode of Sesame Street.
The book was adapted into a play in 2007, with book, music, and lyrics by Chad Henry; it was first performed by the Seattle Children's Theatre, and has since been performed by other companies around the U.S.
In 2010, CollegeHumor posted five science fiction spoofs of well-known children's stories, including a mashup of Goodnight Moon and Frank Herbert's novel Dune, entitled Goodnight Dune'. In 2011, author Julia Yu adapted the image on CollegeHumor into a full homage of Moon, also titled Goodnight Dune.
In 2011, Blue Rider Press published Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the Next Generation, by author Ann Droyd.
Also in 2011, composer Eric Whitacre published a setting for voice accompanied either by harp and strings or by piano; it was recorded by his wife, soprano Hila Plitmann. Whitacre wrote, "... I must have read Goodnight Moon to my son a thousand times... Somewhere around reading number 500 I began hearing little musical fragments as I read, and over time those fragments began to blossom into a simple, sweet lullaby. I knew it was a long shot, but I asked my manager, Claire Long, to contact HarperCollins and see if they would allow the text to be set to music. To my surprise and delight they agreed – the first time they had ever allowed Goodnight Moon to be used in such a way."
In 2013, GWAR lead singer Oderus Urungus did a "live audio read" of the book.
Also in 2013, the book was adapted into a marching band production at Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, Texas.
Also in 2013, ZeniMax Online Studios created a parody of the book titled "Goodnight Mundus" for the MMO The Elder Scrolls Online. The game's loremaster Lawrence Schick is seen reading the book aloud in a video parody posted by their official YouTube account and the contents of the video were later added as a book in the game.
In 2014, a novel titled Goodnight June by Sarah Jio was published by Plume Books. The novel is a fictional account of the discovery that the owner of an independent bookstore in Seattle, Washington has profound connections to Goodnight Moon.
The University of Minnesota Press published the 2015 book Goodnight Loon, full of Minnesota Northwoods language. The original text's bunny is replaced by the university's mascot, Goldy Gopher.