Ten Quiet Picture Books That Speak Volumes by Jackie Leathers
In the early 19th century, William Wordsworth wrote his sonnet “The World Is Too Much With Us” in which he bemoaned society’s “getting and spending” and the loss of contact with the quiet of nature. Today, more than ever, kids need some quiet in their lives. When the world is too much with us, there’s nothing better than a nice, quiet book. Here are ten picture books that are each quiet in a different way.
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
(Houghton Mifflin, 2010)
“There are many kinds of quiet,” begins this sweet book. Each page depicts a different situation that brings out a quietude in each of us – some good, some not so good. There’s lollipop quiet (good!), for example, and “thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet” (not good!). The illustrations by Renata Liwska complement the text beautifully.
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
(Candlewick Press, 2014)
This one is quiet from the title on! Four friends try to move with stealth to catch a bird in their nets. The smallest friend doesn’t seem to understand that their plan involves sneaking up on the bird. He doesn’t know how to be quiet in a sneaky way. He has a plan of his own.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead
(Roaring Brook Press, 2010)
Amos McGee has a quiet, but full life as a kindly zookeeper who always makes time for his animal friends. His friendship gives each animal exactly what is needed – patience, courage, or a clean handkerchief. When Amos wakes up with the sniffles, his friends are there to give him exactly what he needs. Very sweet (and quiet) story!
The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey
(Orchard Books, 1996)
There’s a very special kind of quiet on an early morning paper route. After pulling himself out of a warm bed, the paperboy and his dog travel their route to deliver the newspapers throughout their neighborhood. When the rest of the world is asleep, the paperboy thinks “Big Things” and “small things” and “sometimes nothing at all.” Delivering the morning newspaper is definitely a quiet operation.
Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant
“It takes a certain peace…a love of silence and air” to be a scarecrow. The birds love Scarecrow’s gentleness, and Scarecrow loves being a witness to all the wonder around him. Only Cynthia Rylant could craft a book about a scarecrow that fills the reader with awe.
Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga’g
When the very old man sets off on a quest to find a cat to bring home, he is soon overwhelmed by “hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.” Unable to make a decision about which cat to choose, he asks, “Which one of you is the prettiest?” The millions of cats are anything but quiet in response, all except for one little kitty who thought itself too homely to respond to the old man’s question. There are occasions when not being the squeaky wheel pays off.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes – Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
(Roaring Brook Press, 2016)
From the “tiny, blue hello” of the crocus in the spring to “the quiet of summer that stretches so far that your ears begin to worry” to the first snow that comes “on tiptoes”, the quiet poems in this book catalogue the quiet awe that the seasons inspire. It is filled with a child’s appreciation for the secrets that each season holds for those who look and listen closely – and quietly.
I Am Yoga by Susan Verde
Yoga is definitely a quiet activity and I Am Yoga is a quiet little book that is packed with power. It’s told from the point of view of a girl who uses yoga to ground herself when she feels “small in a world so big.” Peter Reynolds’ illustrations are yoga!
Firebird by Misty Copeland
Ballerina Misty Copeland has written an elegant story in the form of a conversation between Misty, herself, and a young, aspiring ballerina. The young girl feels discouraged, “gray as rain, low as a storm pressing on rooftops.” The mentor points out that “even birds must learn to fly,” that the girl will need to work long and hard, but that she will find her place in the world of dance. Loaded with figurative language and craft, this quiet book has a strong, hopeful message about breaking barriers.
A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood
(Simon & Schuster, 2002)
Sometimes a person needs a quiet place, the young boy in this book tells us. He is a tour guide for the reader through several quiet places that are all around us if only we are on the look-out. And the best thing about a quiet place is that it awakens your imagination. If you’re having trouble finding a quiet place, take the boy’s advice and go to the quiet place inside of you.
Jackie Leathers is a reading specialist in Alton, NH. She loves books that have strong messages wrapped in quiet packages. An explorer of quiet places, she can be found hiking in the mountains, or walking in the woods with her quiet 10-year-old black lab who has only barked five times in his life to the best of anyone’s knowledge.