THE QUIET BOOK By Deborah Underwood
When I rejoined the workforce last year, I consciously and purposefully avoided teaching in a classroom again and instead went to work in a library. All kinds of reasoning went into that decision but one of the big ones was LIBRARIES TEND TO BE VERY QUIET PLACES. Our library is actually on the louder side, but is still quieter than the average classroom and significantly quieter than my house most of the time.
Now, I know I have nothing to complain about with only two kids—both female. There are louder houses, but my tolerance for noise seems to go down in direct reverse proportion to my age. I taught kindergarten, for God’s sake, when I was in my twenties. People used to come into my classroom and ask me how I could stand it, and I was barely even aware of the constant chatter/clatter/bang/boom. But now when the middle-schoolers come into the library to “study” at lunchtime and start table hopping and socializing, it sounds like an Iron Maiden concert to me. And then I have to do the classic librarian “shush” which makes me feel like an old maid. I try not to dress the part.
I did actually take my daughter to a concert this Summer—Taylor Swift—fabulous, but loud, very loud. You fill a giant sports arena with honest-to-God Taylor fans that know EVERY WORD TO EVERY SONG, and you are going to get a tremendous chorus of country love. It was actually kinda cool—but not a quiet, acoustic night by any stretch of the imagination.
Luckily my young and enthusiastic niece was around for most of the Summer, so she was happy to take my girls to the fair and various amusement and water parks—loud, crowded places that I try to avoid but feel guilty depriving my kids. So best of both worlds, I give my fresh-faced niece tons of cash, and she deals with the noisy masses.
But there were days—as there are for all of us—when we have to resort to games like: The No Talking Game, and The Let’s Give our Voices a Rest game, and Who Can Keep her Mouth Closed the Longest game. I have one daughter who really likes to talk, and sing, and hum, and whistle, and snap, and clap, and friggin’ hand jive. And you gotta love the energy—just the zest for life! But sometimes it just goes beyond the pale—so we have to resort to the above mentioned games. The other daughter is hard pressed to put an entire sentence together most of the time. When the big one goes camping with her dad, the little one and I will hang out and do puzzles and literally not speak for hours at a time—it’s lovely.
So now that school has begun again and those lazy hazy crazy AND LOUD days of Summer are over, we can all get (hopefully) a little peace and quiet at home or at work!
Deborah Underwood has written a wonderful story about all the different kinds of quiet. When you’ve read Goodnight Moon one too many times, this is the perfect antidote. Underwood’s story is the perfect bedtime story—the best time to be quiet, of course, but she also describes all the other kinds of quiet:
We don’t do bedtime stories any more which makes me kind-of sad sometimes. I miss that snuggle in and listen—footie pajamas and sweet johnsons baby shampoo head. The girls read to themselves now or play on their i-Pods for all I know, but I highly recommend this book to those of you mamas with toddlers who are still ripe for some soothing bedtime stories.
Underwood talks about “the first one awake quiet,” and “coloring in the lines quiet,” and the “right before you yell, SURPRISE! quiet.” Even the pictures in this soothing story are quiet—soft pencil drawings in shades of brown and gray.
In the same way that reading Goodnight Moon always felt like singing a lullaby without actually having to sing, The Quiet Book is that rare treasure—the instant classic—that kids will ask for again and again.
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