Title: Listen to the Silent Night
Author: Dandi Daley MacKall
Illustrator: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Audience: Intended audience: 3-7. Could be used with all ages (children to act out the sounds and youth/adults to hear the silence in the chaos and the noise).
Summary: “In our hearts, find a silence in the middle of the noise, with the bustling of our Christmas and the clattering of toys. Help us slip into the silence, filled with hallelujah joys on not such a silent night.” This lovely children’s book tells the story of Advent/Christmas through the sounds that surround the scenes of the gospel story. From the hoot of the owls to the whoosh of the shepherd’s staff and then to the cries of an infant, the author uses sound to draw us in to the moments leading up to Christ’s birth. In the human depiction of baby noises and the groaning of a mother birthing a child, we enter the story with our senses of sound and sight.
Literary elements at work in the story:
- Genre: Poem
- Setting: Journey to Bethlehem
- 3rd person telling of the story through the sounds of tapping on the inn door, the baaa of sheep, the flutter of angel wings.
Theological Conversations: We sing Silent Night and long for nights of silence in our busy lives. Mackall engages us by provoking us to listen more intently to all the sounds until the silence of Peace comes through the noise. We ask God to quiet within us all that is so that we may truly hear God speaking to us through scripture, through the Word proclaimed. But what about the times God not only comes in the gentle whisper but in the loud booms of the earthquake and the pops of the fire? How do we hear God? How do we listen for what God is trying to tell us through encounters of sounds like a baby’s cry? God reveals God’s self through the sounds of the gospel story!
Faith Talk Questions:
- What sounds stood out to you when hearing this story and why?
- How is God speaking to you this day in this Christmas story?
- What can we learn from the sounds around the nativity in relationship to our understanding of a silent night?
- How can we stop and listen so that we might hear Christmas?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Neeley Lane.
Listen to the Silent Night by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.