Author Interview: Melissa Hasan, Rabbit Dreams

My children struggle to fall asleep. We have followed every lead when it comes to creating a relaxing bedtime routine. For weeks, this included my husband and I handing over our iPhones so our sons could listen to guided meditations. We would then creep back in their rooms to retrieve our handheld devices. This led to many jokes about iPhone fairies and even more stress because neither Nathan nor I can be categorized as stealthy. There was always the possibility we would wake the boys back up.

Rabbit Dreams by Melissa Hasan  Illustrated by Hajra Meeks

When I heard from Melissa Hasan about her book, Rabbit Dreams, I knew my family needed to give it a try. Rabbit Dreams is a read-aloud guided meditation for easing your children to sleep. I put it to use the evening it arrived. It didn’t take much work to slip into the rhythm of the story. Hasan’s writing is fluid. I found myself calming along with my kids. Frankly, the grown-ups being calm is half the battle.
I love this book and its illustrations. The images are absorbing, the story an adventure at the same time as all components evoke serenity. Rabbit Dreams has been passed from room to room among our three kiddos. Most frequently, it lands with my nine-year-old son who can read it to himself after it is read aloud to him. And because the pictures are just as calming as the text, my two-year-old can also enjoy this book on her own, although she tends to rip books, so we don’t let her.
I hope you enjoy this brief interview with Melissa about her process in creating this beautiful book. I hope you also order your own copy (links below). I think this is the perfect picture book to gift new parents. Honestly, this book is great for kids, but it’s also great for grown ups. No kids required.


Tell me about the process of writing this book. Aside from parenting, do you have any experiences that fed into the idea for a meditative bedtime picture book?  
This was a story that I told my daughter to help her fall asleep. She had bad dreams or scary dreams starting around 18 months and they lasted until she was four. We tried many things, and many ways of doing bedtime reading and bedtime stories. This method I hit upon by accident during a long and stressful trip to Pakistan when she was just under two. The time change was very difficult (it’s about 12 hours different) and she was struggling with falling asleep in new places with new sounds and new people. One night, I told her to dream about all the fun things we saw that day, which included many goats. She asked me to tell her more about the goats, and I began to recap what we saw, repeating “just dream and dream about it.” And it worked. Over the next few days, I perfected the refrain and the tone and refined the story of goats. When that story got a little old, I tried rabbits. It was a huge hit, and Rabbit Dreams was born.
How did you find an illustrator? 
I searched online and looked at hundreds of portfolios of artists in my area and around California. When I found a few artists whose style matched the image I had in my mind for the book, I emailed them. Hajra Meeks not only responded, but was excited about the idea. I sent her the text and my ideas for the images, and she loved it and wanted to work with me. It was really a lucky find, because we have a lot in common and our visions of the rabbit and backgrounds really meshed.
What’s next for the Dream & Dream & Dream series? 
This summer, I will be working harder to promote Rabbit Dreams outside of my immediate geographic area. I’m finishing my Elementary teaching credential, so my book has had to take the back seat for a while. I’m hoping to get it into libraries in my area, and have a few more readings throughout the San Francisco Bay area during the summer. My reading at The Wooden Horse (an independent toy/book store) was so much fun, and several people bought copies.
I have written another in the series, called Tonight I Dream of Goats. It currently lives in a drawer in my office, waiting for its turn. Hajra and I worked so well together on Rabbit Dreams that I don’t plan to go looking for a new illustrator. It’s really a question of time – I certainly won’t be ready for a new book before 2016, and then I’ll have to see what her art schedule looks like, too.
Where can I get my copy?
Paperback copies are on Amazon, but you can now get the hardcover (which is much nicer, in my opinion) from several book/toy stores in the Bay Area – The Wooden Horse (Los Gatos), Tiny Tots (Campbell), and Reach and Teach (San Mateo). Both Tiny Tots and Reach and Teach have it available to buy on their websites.
Melissa Hasan is a writer and mother in the Bay Area.
Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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