In Defense of Quiet Books

Article by marycatherine

It will be no surprise to anyone who keeps up with kids’ literature these days that there are a lot of LOUD books on our shelves. When I say loud, I mean that there’s a lot going on: Mysteries! Magic! Creatures! Adventures! Exploring! Bright colors! Snark! Trilogies! Sagas! Loudness in and of itself isn’t bad. However, I hope that the popularity of these books doesn’t halt the demand for quieter books; reads that focus on saving a friendship, not saving the world. It’s easy to assume that reluctant readers will only be captivated by plots laden with bells and whistles and explosions, but sometimes a simpler book with which your child can deeply identify will make a stronger impact. I’ve read several quiet kids’ books lately that captivated and refreshed me after reading about the apocalypse and complicated treasure hunts for months. Here are some of my favorites:

Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544259003
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Clarion Books - March 4th, 2014

Here’s the story of a chicken named Peggy who, thanks to a particularly strong gust of wind, is blown from her quaint life on the farm into the bustle of the big city. The book illuminates her explorations with beautiful, gentle watercolor illustrations integrated with soft-focus photographs. You’ll want to read this one all the way to the end for maximum enjoyment of Peggy’s story, which doesn’t feature twists or puns or gimmicks. She’s just a chicken exploring a city, captivated by the people, and finding her way home. This is the kind of book I would have requested day after day during mom-snuggle-book time, a staple in my house when I was growing up.

The Battle of Darcy Lane Cover Image
ISBN: 9780762449484
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Running Press Kids - April 22nd, 2014

I picked up this book because of my love for Tara Altebrando’s collaboration with quiet book champion Sara Zarr, ROOMIES. THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE is Altebrando’s first middle grade novel and it is a gem! I read it in one day, and when I wasn’t reading, I was complaining to my coworkers about all the feelings this beautiful little book induced in me. It’s the first day of summer and with a new girl on the block, Julia and Taylor’s friendship just isn’t what it used to be. I felt for Julia in her confusion at the other girls’ mean behavior, her innocent crush on the boy around the corner, and the tension she feels between the things she loved as a child and mysterious grown-up things that she knows that she “should” like. Altebrando captures something ineffable about being twelve that reminds me of none other than middle-grade master Judy Blume.

If I Stay Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142415436
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - April 6th, 2010

Where She Went Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142420898
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - April 17th, 2012

This duo of books are not as new as the other two books featured here. However, I think you’ll be hearing a lot about them in the coming months thanks to the upcoming movie version of IF I STAY, which will be released in August. The novel largely takes place while the main character, Mia, is in a coma following a car wreck that killed the rest of her family. The title refers to her choice about whether to stay on Earth and heal or to let go and be with her parents and brother. Despite the morbid direction in which this book could have gone, it depicts a charming family, young love, and the complexity of relationships through a series of flashbacks. Like THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE, this book features parents whose relationships with one another and with their children is a major inspiration. Forman’s sequel, WHERE SHE WENT, is an even quieter book, and I believe my favorite of the two. Without the drama of hospital scenes, this book is reminiscent of the deceptively simple film BEFORE SUNRISE, only it’s set in New York during a meeting between estranged lovers, not in Paris with two strangers. Both books explore grief and the unexpected directions life can take.

Article Type Terms: