The Wonder of it All

The moon is one of the earliest points of imagination and metaphor we offer young children. We tuck our children in, bid goodnight to the moon, and tell them that we love them to the moon and back; it becomes a first symbol of both constancy and wonder. The realization that the moon is visible during the day — that it never truly goes away — is often among the earliest and most powerful moments of scientific imagination for children. This observation sustains their curiosity while also tapping into their desire to locate and be grounded by points of stability and predictability.

This early fascination with the moon makes the eclipse a particularly exciting experience to share with our children. It offers a natural jumping off point for scientific inquiry and engagement with nature. It is also an opportunity to disconnect from devices and distractions and focus, together, on something rare and special. As we share the experience of darkness, and trust that it will not last, the eclipse can become an entry into conversations about patience and resilience. It is a metaphor for separation and attachment, as the sun seems to disappear and inevitably returns. And, perhaps most powerfully, the eclipse is an opportunity to connect with our children through shared wonder. There are few more profound experiences of connection between parent and child than moments of mutual awe.

So, go outside and pull out your goofy eclipse glasses! Cuddle up with your little ones and allow their natural amazement to embrace you. As Richard Louv reminds us, “Reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit, and survival.” Children know this intuitively, as they gravitate to the wild, muddy edges and attempt to count the stars. Join them in their marvel!

Recommended Picture Books

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth
Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng
Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann
Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
Max and the Tag Along Moon by Floyd Cooper
Moon by Melanie Mitchell
The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Alicia Stoller is the Director of JCP’s Early Childhood Center.