Like many people, and many educators, I read Susan Cain’s Quiet a couple of years ago and loved her take on the world and what it means to be an introvert within this modern life we all inhabit. So when I heard she was writing a follow-up of sorts, specifically designed to target children and young people (and the people who love and care for them) in order to help them feel more secure in school, at home and in the wider world, the book went straight onto my ‘to read’ list.
As an aside, my ‘to read’ list is quite the thing. And I love that it’s so long and crazed – a world without books I’m longing to read would really make me sad!
Before I launch into the review proper, a disclosure. I am not an introvert. Nor, I’m almost convinced, am I an extrovert. I think I’m a classic ambivert (ah, my love of sitting on fences), with elements of both understandings in my nature. I think the more we learn about introversion and extraversion, the closer we’ll move to a continuum of sorts, with ‘classic’ introverts and extraverts at either end of the scale and the rest of us dotted along between.
I’d probably say I’m a bit of an ambivert, because of my preferences and needs. Sometimes I need a bunch of people and music and noise – at others I’m happiest cocooned alone for days. I like hanging out in fairly large groups – but my renewal comes from smaller chats with a friend or two. Too much time alone can make me blue – but so can too much time out in the world.
Aren’t we humans the oddest creatures?
That meandering aside behind us, onto the book. I enjoyed Quiet Power and found it a quick and easy read – this is ideal given that its secondary market, after the primary one of the young people it considers, will presumably be educators and parents – two groups without a tonne of spare time to wade through data and pages of opining. The book is divided neatly into sections on school, socializing, hobbies and the home, and Cain does a wonderful job of advocating for new ways for introverted children and teens to thrive and succeed in these areas. Without being too preachy or too overly academic, Cain offers examples of introverts succeeding on their own terms, and ways for young people (and those around them) to make themselves heard.
I enjoyed the afterword for teachers, with some great ideas for developing a range of ways to encourage introverts; similarly I think parents will find the section tailored for them useful. As with all things, it must be about balance, and for the schools and homes where introverts work and live this book offers several vital tools and vivid ideas to ensure this happens. I loved the little illustrations throughout by Grant Snider, they formed a charming and amusing accompaniment to the flow of the book.
If you’re an introvert yourself, or if you have loved ones who are, I think this book is a great read, and if you’re not yourself on the introverted end of the scale there’s plenty of food for thought and opportunities for understanding here. A lovely little non-fiction read.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by Penguin Life. Opinions totes my own!