By: Wendy Rancier, MLS, Collection Development Librarian
The pause we collectively took during the pandemic allowed us all to take a little time, slow down and listen. Mindfulness and meditation have become increasingly important, if not essential, in the rapids of our lives. Introversion has become an empowered state, and many introverts have declared (quietly) that they don’t need to be extroverted. There is nothing wrong with being quiet or seeking out time to yourself.
For many of us, the time after the holidays is the pits: time to put away lights, twinkling and motion-activated tchotchkes, and, of course, the end of vacation and back to the somewhat predictable patterns of life. As we get older, we have come to long for this post-holiday time: enjoying the quiet winter, the end of social obligations, endless to-do (and to-buy lists!) and, finally, the calm (or, rather, predictable chaos). There is no better time than when the year is coming to an end to peruse book lists to cue up reading for 2023. I was happy to see that the Goodreads choice award for 2022 Best Middle Grade and Children’s title was I Am Quiet: A Story for the Introvert in All of Us by Andie Powers and illustrated by Betsy Peterson. In the book, Powers addresses the problems introverted children, like Emile, face, in a spread where various adults say, condescendingly, things like “cat got your tongue” and “someday you will come out of your shell”. These statements imply that there is something wrong with being quiet; it is something to be fixed. Emile states that he is not shy; he is quiet. One of my favorite passages shows Emile in school, and his friends have their hands up and can’t wait to answer a question in class, but Emile whispers the answer softly, because “answers can be quiet.” Every page of this story is moving, and so empowering to a quiet child, or adult.
Another great choice to celebrate being “bookish” or quiet is by debut author Pauline David-Sax with Everything in its Place: A Story of Books and Belonging. I believe this title will strike a chord with most librarians, as we meet Nicky, who loves her safe space in the school library. The school library is going to be closed for a week, so Nicky must go to recess with everyone else. This makes her stomach hurt with anxiety. Nicky has a breakthrough while helping at her mom’s restaurant when a group of female motorcyclists come in with one of their favorite customers who also loans Nicky books. Nicky notices that all these women are different skin tones, sizes and personalities, but they all get along. The author doesn’t make Nicky have a breakthrough to break out of her introversion, but rather realize that everyone is different and that is okay. When Nicky does venture out into recess, she discovers a fellow book-loving friend. As we all know, finding a friend who loves books is always a treasure.
An introverted snail will not “come out of his shell” in Naseem Hrab’s How to Party Like a Snail. As many quiet people and introverts know, parties can be a lot to handle. Snail doesn’t like the loud music and loud noises (I added making conversation with people you would rather not talk to in my list of reasons for avoiding parties). Snail begins to question if he is the only one who thinks quiet is just as fun as loud. Snail stops getting a lot of party invitations, so he decides to just to throw his own party and invites himself, makes warm milk and lip-syncs to his favorite chill tunes. His pal Stump (a tree stump) suggests that maybe his party is missing a friend, and Snail’s party has all his favorite things. So, Stump and Snail go on to have a fun and mild party doing the things that they enjoy…quietly. As with our other titles, Snail realizes that he is a quiet guy; no need for him to change; he just needs a different kind of party. This is a great socio-emotional learning title to discuss inclusivity and belonging; something everyone should experience, loud or quite alike.
I have put together a list of other great titles for quiet kids and quiet times on ipage for you to view here, when you have a quiet moment.