Professional reference of literary work The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep

Author: Kvetoslava Kotrbová


Author: Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin
Translator: Svetlana Žuchová (to Slovak)
Illustrator: Irina Maununen
Release year: 2015


Therapeutic goals: promoting sleep

Recommended age group: 3+

Form of work: individual, group

Brief content of the work:

In the story, we meet the rabbit Waker, who is very tired, but still cannot fall asleep. Therefore, together with the mother bunny, he chooses to ask Uncle Yawner for help. On the way, they meet the good snail Sleeper and the wise owl Heavylidy. Rabbit Waker receives good advices from both of them on how to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Although he is getting sleepier, he travels on. Uncle Yawner rubs Waker with a miraculous sleeping tincture. Waker barely has time to return home, he immediately falls into the deepest sleep until morning.

Similarly, as well as other similar publications by the mentioned author, which were published later (The baby Elephant who wants to fall asleep, 2016 and The Tractor who wants to fall asleep, 2017), it uses proven psychological techniques, the aim of which is to help the child relax, fall asleep faster and peacefully sleep. The story contains suggestions that affect the child’s unconscious and induce sleep. As the author himself states, the surprising choice or use of the word in it is a psychologically based intention. We can notice that the author conceived the story mainly based on the use of knowledge from neurolinguistic programming, but elements of autogenic training can also be found in it (focusing the child’s attention on relaxing individual parts of the body, focusing on breathing, feeling warmth, weight in individual parts of the body, peace), the frequent suggestive repetition of the word “now” important to highlight the current experience and feelings, as well as the word “miracle” strongly applied in the framework of the founder Steve de Shaser’s solution-oriented psycho-therapy. The book can be used for falling asleep during the day and in the evening.

In the later published book The Baby Elephant who wants to fall asleep (2016) the author, in addition to the psychotherapeutic techniques already mentioned above, also used the widespread technique of counting stairs, used when introducing into a light trance or awake sleep states starting from 5 to 0 (the lowest step), focusing on breathing, speeding up the time needed to fall asleep (e.g. with the suggestive sentence “they fell asleep twice as fast as usual”, p. 17), which many parents rate as very helpful on social networks compared to the story about the rabbit (ibid). The publications even have their own website on Facebook.

Description of the possibilities of professional pedagogical/therapeutic work:

The introduction of the publication contains instructions for the reader on how to read the book aloud to a child. Therefore, we include it, apart from the fact that it belongs to the fairy-tale literary genre, at the same time to the category of self-help books (Kotrbová, 2022). Before listening to the story, the child should be allowed to get rid of excess energy. It is necessary to create enough time for reading as well as a pleasant, undisturbed and safe environment. In the publication The Baby Elephant who wants to fall asleep, which was published in Slovakia a year later, the author added “Factors of success” with a description of the conditions that must be met when reading. It is recommended to always read the story to the end, even if the child falls asleep while reading it, or vice versa – if necessary – to read it several times until the child is completely relaxed and able to fall asleep. First, the story can be read several times in a normal way to become familiar enough and then follow the instructions using a different type of font.

The author draws the reader’s attention to different ways of reading using different types of fonts that are used in the text – bold font for text that needs to be highlighted, italics for text where the text should be read slowly and in a calm voice, and golden font in square brackets for text where it is necessary to make some movement such as wave your hand or yawn. The person who reads the story to the child is also alerted to notice how the child reacts to the use of various techniques and apply those that help him fall asleep.

Description of experience from own work with a literary work:

I read the story to my son at bedtime when he was about 5 years old. Based on this experience, in addition to the recommendations for working with the work given by the author himself in the beginning of the text, I also recommend reading the work to the child, or familiarizing him with the story even before he wants to use it for the purpose of falling asleep. For example, during the day, when the child is relaxed, introduce him to the story in a pleasant atmosphere, or allow him to look at the pictures in the book, so that he is not curious about them while reading the story, which is already dedicated to supporting falling asleep. An unknown story or curiosity about pictures can unnecessarily activate the child, which can be an obstacle to falling asleep.

Parents can also be encouraged to change the main characters of the story if the child wishes. At the time when this publication was published, for example, the version about The Tractor, who wanted to fall asleep, was not yet available, which was not published in Slovakia until two years later, when we had already mastered the problem of falling asleep. Children with technical interests and favorite heroes with whom they feel good and safe, so to speak, “from a different background” can also demand their presence in such a story. Support parents and children in this and help them insert important “persons and cast” into the story so that the original supporting psychological intention of supporting falling asleep is also preserved. In our story, instead of a rabbit, Thomas the Tank Engine appeared, the mother was Emily and the father was the train Edward from my son’s favorite series of stories, Thomas the Tank Engine by the author W. Awdry. There was no need to change the snail Sleeper, the owl Heavylidy or the miraculous uncle Yawner☺, but if it happened, we would choose together other characters from this series that correspond as closely as possible to the characteristics of the characters from this story, such as Sleeper, Heavylidy, Yawner, so that the original would be preserved psychological intention of the author.

To facilitate the work during reading, also support the parents or other relative of the child, who reads the story to the child, to rewrite the changes in the main characters in the book to facilitate the fluency of reading aloud. Also, to freely enter any other aids to facilitate reading in the text. For example, I needed to graphically separate the sentences on page 16 starting with the word “relax” with bullet points to create enough space for breathing while reading and to make reading easier, I also marked the beginnings of the second sentences in these paragraphs more graphically.

Changing the intensity and color of the voice for different characters, for example, did not suit my child, it was enough to read the highlighted words more slowly. The first time it was necessary to read the story 3 times. It is important to encourage parents not to get nervous after the first reading, for example, and to be able to calmly read the story to the child a second and third time, or more if he needs it. If the child does not agree to continue reading, respect that, but try to be close to him and notice what else he may need, for example. Maybe it’s just your presence while falling asleep, maybe a loving touch, holding your hand while falling asleep, which can be replaced later if necessary, for example, with a favorite stuffed toy and so on.

If the child happens to not tolerate well the voice of a parent or other relative who reads or should have read the story to him, it is also possible to offer the option of using an audiobook, where the story is read by a professional specially trained narrator.

It is also necessary to remember obstacles to falling asleep, which can have their cause directly in the family environment, such as unresolved work, family and other burdensome problems that have a negative effect on the child, either because he does not understand them or because the parents no, they don’t have time, they are nervous and so on. The author himself, Ehrlin, C. J., in the cited publication The baby elephant who wants to fall asleep(2016), on unnumbered page 33 of the work, presents the results of his own survey conducted on a sample of 87 parents and 126 children aged from 3 months to 8 years, according to which falling asleep with the help of a book The rabbit that wants to fall asleep was accelerated by approximately 55% of the children who had problems falling asleep and 67% of those who had major problems falling asleep. Apart from the absence of a description of the data collection methodology, etc., it follows from the given information that roughly the other half of the children and parents would need another kind of support in addition to the book itself and the instructions for reading it.

For example, parents can be helped to eliminate the cause. With solving the mentioned unresolved family, work or other problems and managing them so that they are more of a challenge and an opportunity for their own growth and learning, rather than a source of frustration. At the same time, they can become an example worthy of following for their child, when they show how such problems can be managed, as well as the fact that at the same time they can effectively protect and support themselves and the child in what they need, that is, they can also handle possible external circumstances that are not for them they are very pleasant.

The possibility to consult the indications and contraindications of the work, specific procedures or experiences, before, during and after using the work with the author of the recommendation:

yes – see the Consultations section (click through).

The recommended card of literary work was created by:

PhDr. Kvetoslava Kotrbová, PhD., MPH

Workplace: Faculty of Education, Comenius University in Bratislava

Last update: February 7, 2023

The card of the recommended literary piece from Slovak to English translated by:

Mária Trechová

Workplace: PRO SKIZP – Association for support of Slovak Chamber of Physicists, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Educators, c. a. Bratislava, Slovakia


It has not undergone language editing!


Ehrlin, Carl-Johan Forssén. 2015. Zajko, ktorý chce zaspať. Rozprávková uspávanka. [The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep. A fairytale lullaby.] (Translated into Slovak by Svetlana Žuchová). Bratislava: Ikar. 36 p. ISBN 978-80-551-4651-5

Ehrlin, Carl-Johan Forssén. 2016. Sloníča, ktoré chce zaspať . Nový spôsob ako uspávať deti. [The Baby elephant who wants to fall asleep. A proven way to put children to sleep.] (Translated into Slovak by Svetlana Žuchová). Bratislava: Ikar. 32 p. ISBN 978-80-551-5185-4.

Ehrlin, Carl-Johan Forssén. 2017. Traktor, ktorý chce zaspať. [The Tractor that wants to fall asleep.] (Translated into Slovak by Svetlana Žuchová). Bratislava: Ikar. 32 p. ISBN 978-80-551-5698-7.

Kotrbová, Kvetoslava. 2022. Svojpomocné knihy v biblioterapii. [Self-help books in bibliotherapy.] pp. 95-110. In Studia Scientifica Facultatis Paedagogicae, vol. XXI., no. 5/2022. Ružomberok: Catholic University, 2022. 180 p. Available online:

All rights reserved! The work or its parts may be reproduced, expanded, included in other works or other electronic systems (including online or offline databases), lectured or otherwise used, if the relevant content is linked to the relevant citation, i.e. by indicating the origin of the information from this source or with a link to this website.

Recommended citation method:

Kotrbová Kvetoslava. 2023. Professional reference of the literary work Ehrlin Forssén Carl-Johan The rabbit, who wants to fall asleep. In Bratislava: PRO SKIZP – Association to support the development of the Slovak Chamber of other healthcare workers. Available on: …. Link

The contribution was created thanks to support from the European Union Erasmus+ program, Key action 2 – Cooperation between organizations and institutions, KA210 – Small partnerships for cooperation in the field of education and training. Project name “Prototype of online teaching aid for bibliotherapy”, project number 2022-1-SK01-KA210-VET-000082483. It represents the opinion of the author and the European Commission or author is not responsible for any use of the information contained therein.