My read-aloud for this month is the lovely book, THE QUIET PLACE, by Sarah Stewart and David Small, and so I thought I would repeat a few of my earlier posts on one of my favorite topics!
I’ve always had a penchant for all things QUIET: quiet people, quiet places, quiet music, quiet walks, and quiet books, to name but a few. And I was fortunate enough to grow up in a culture that valued all things – QUIET.
When I was a wee girl, my dad would always press his fingers to his lips and warn me to tread lightly as we passed by a lone bush in the fields of Ireland, lest we frighten off the fairy folk who would be hiding there.
On winter mornings, when my dad came to wake us from our sleep, he would always whisper, so as not to disturb the hallowed hush of a new day dawning.
And as a young teacher in Scotland, I learned early on from an older, wiser colleague, that the best way to tame a rowdy class, was simply to start talking in a very low, soft voice. Pretty soon a hush would descend, as the children strained to hear what I was saying. Curiosity trumped the need to chatter!
In public places Scottish people speak much more softly than their American counterparts. Some years ago, when we took our daughter back to visit Scotland, we ate lunch at a pub in the countryside. Halfway through the meal, she leaned over and whispered to my husband and me, “This is like eating in a library!” (She had been raised in the era where libraries were actually places of QUIET!)
Thinking by talking aloud (a common practice in American culture) is frowned upon in Scotland. “Don’t talk the arms out of a waistcoat!” was a frequent admonition to the more loquacious members on a board or committee!
The Scots subscribed to that old adage, “children should be seen and not heard,” and while that notion is somewhat outdated now (and rightly so), it did hold some merit. As the youngest child, I spent many hours sitting on the edge of adult conversation, just listening.
All of these cultural factors really served as my storyteller’s apprenticeship.
So, how can we encourage our little ones to seek out more QUIET time, to value silence and listening and spend more time BEING versus DOING?
By basking in stories of course…..good stories that leave room for pondering and reflection, wonder, and mystery.