Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Considering The Night

                                 I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today.  Thanks to this community, we can learn and grow, give support or ask for it. Pretty wonderful, right?

           Have you ever been afraid of the dark? A long time ago, you didn't have much choice, even if you were indoors. If you were poor, you couldn't just light a candle. They cost money. You certainly couldn't afford a lantern. If you were rich, and lit candles, or allowed your servants to have them, they still only lit corners of a room, and were so dangerous because of fire. Living in the time before electric light was a different kind of living, filled with danger.
           Among other books for kids, I have recently started a book I've had for a while because I read an excerpt of it somewhere, and was interested. It is At Day's CloseNight In Times' Past by A. Roger Ekirch, a long and densely researched history of the night before the industrial revolution.  
              Some of the stories still touch us, because there are times when our lights go out, or we are driving far out into the country with only the car's headlights to give us comfort. but imagine what night was like long ago with only candles or lanterns to show the way. There were unpaved streets, uneven roads, fairies and haints, thieves and murderers.  I've hardly begun the book, but it is fascinating. 



            Although we are fortunate that most of us do live with lit streets and homes, others in the world still do not. They still face challenges in the dark, still stay inside their shelters unless forced to go out. Yet, even after all these years past the invention of the light bulb and other technologies, it still feels as if we believe there are frightening aspects of the dark. Here are some titles of recent picture books that are supposed to help children, and perhaps us adults, be a little less afraid--of the night, or the dark. They might also serve as sparks for interesting personal narratives.

The Dark - Lemony Snicket

In A Dark, Dark House - Jennifer Dussling

The Dragon Who Was Afraid of The Dark - Janet McNulty

Orion and the Dark - Emma Garlett

Night Animals - Gianna Marino

The Night World - Mordecai Gerstein

Nighttime Ninja - Barbara DaCosta

Flashlight - Lizi Boyd

The House In The Night - Susan Marie Swanson

           This is a limited post about the night, I know, but it has been interesting for me to consider my own beliefs and where they might have originated, so I hope I have you thinking, too.  


27 comments:

  1. You always offer such interestings. Here are a couple others you may know of:
    The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark
    http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Afraid-Dark-Picture-Puffins/dp/014054545X
    and 25 Spooky Deap Sea Creatures
    http://www.amazon.com/Spooky-Deep-Sea-Creatures-Extraordinary/dp/1523267631/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462278872&sr=1-4&keywords=Deep+sea+darkness

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    1. Thanks, Julieanne. I thought others might have new titles, too!

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  2. At Day's Close sounds very interesting. Something I have not thought much about! Thanks, Linda.

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    1. It is interesting, Jane. He has researched it for a lot of years from first person accounts, etc. It's quite comprehensive. Thanks!

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  3. I was SO afraid of the dark at sleepaway camp. Of course, I went to one without electricity in the cabins. So there I was, at age 12, sleeping with a flashlight every night. After awhile, I realized that the moon could be my light and I got over my fear. Eventually the flashlight moved to the shelf behind my bed, which was good since it was very uncomfortable to sleep with at night!

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    1. What a memory, Stacey. I'm glad your fear changed and you made the moon a comfort.

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  4. I miss the dark here in the city where I live. I love it when we go camping far away from the crowd and it is dark enough to look up and see the universe of stars. I don't sleep well here because of the lights in the alley shine in to our bedroom. Waiting is not Easy! by Mo Willems is a story of the beauty of the dark.

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    1. Thanks, you're right about the Mo Willems book. I'd forgotten! I don't like not seeing many stars here in the city, too, Cheriee. I had one experience that I'll always remember, on Lake Powell with my students. There were so many stars we could barely see between them!

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  5. So interesting Linda. It is never dark here in the true sense of night. This does have be thinking.

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    1. "me thinking" that was supposed to say!

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    2. I know, never dark here either. I love to go camping in the mountains so I can enjoy the dark, and the stars! Thanks, Carrie.

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  6. This is fascinating to think about, Linda. I have a new appreciation for the night due to nights at the farm - I never knew dark could be THAT dark! Love it, though.

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    1. Of course you would know the dark from your lovely country place! It is different, isn't it? And wonderful, too!

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  7. I love the night, the dark. I recall a book of poems I use to read to my son when he was young about poems for the night. Thanks for the book recommendations:)

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    1. You're welcome! I should try to find the book, Mary Ann. I love that you remember.

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  8. One of my most vivid memories is of backpacking in the High Sierras as a twenty-something year old. We were alone, at 11,000 feet and the sky was a blanket of stars over us. I have never had that experience since. My husband and I sometimes go outside at night to try to identify

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    1. Love the memory, Barbara. I can see Orion's Belt from my home, and the big dipper sometimes, but not the beautiful scatter that thousands of stars make.

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  9. Great food for thought, Linda. I often wonder where the\at fear of the dark originates. Is it from stories parents tell children to keep them in line or does it come from somewhere else?

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    1. According to this book, it comes from early religious practices, and the devil, always most feared in the dark. I have a friend who is Norwegian born, & terrified of the dark still. She said that folks scared kids with trolls roaming the night in order to keep the kids from being outside after sunset. It is interesting to think about for sure.

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  10. I'm trying to think of the book I read my children about a monster who was afraid of the dark. The kid ends up comforting the monster. "There's a Monster in my Closet" ? Maybe. The dark is mysterious and sometimes comforting.

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    1. There are books like that, so many! I found a Bernstein Bear one earlier too. Considering our culture so filled with light, it's interesting that we are still alarmed at the dark.

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  11. Yes, I'll admit it...I am afraid of the dark. And don't even get me started on basements! (Fun and thought provoking post, Linda!)

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    1. I nearly included "going to the basement", perhaps too many creepy scenes in books or in movies?

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  12. That sounds like a cool book. I just read an article in New York magazine about how the city is installing LED streetlights in all five boroughs, and they give off more of a blue-white glow rather than a soft yellow glow. Completely changes the perception of night.

    I'm fortunate to live up on a hill in Port Jefferson, so I get a pretty good view of the night sky. It's awesome to see how different the night looks on a moonlit night versus a dark night. It reminds me of a great description of moonlit nights in Things Fall Apart, when the whole village would be out socializing, whereas on dark nights they were afraid of evil spirits, etc.

    Personally I love the occasional day or two-long power outage so that we can experience that total darkness of our ancestors. I suppose I'd rather not have that long-term, but it's good once in a while.

    Thanks for telling us about this book!

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    1. It is a fascinating book, well researched, and full of information that never occurred to me. I remember that scene from Things Fall Apart, have read that book numerous times with my students. What a lovely, but heartbreaking book. There is a part of my 'night' book that speaks of humans having light as changing former sleep habits that were actually in two parts. They would rise about midnight, eat a bit, socialize, etc., then sleep again until dawn. He writes that our supposed need for 8 or more straight hours is an unnatural rhythm. You're lucky to be atop a hill! Thanks for sharing so much, Mark.

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  13. I shared Orion and the Dark with Orion, a new dad for the second time when I went to their house bearing gifts and food (and a library book)! I was afraid of the dark and always asked Dad to watch me when I ran down to Granny's house (across the street and down three houses) to spend the night with her. He always laughed at me, but indulged me and I felt so safe. Susan Jeffers wrote a picture book about the animals at night. If I remember correctly, it was after she lost a child and it comforted her to think about the animals at night. I think your adult book would be interesting. I don't really like venturing out at night. I like to cozy up with a book and stay in.

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    1. I like hearing about this other book by Susan Jeffers, will try to find it. What a nice thing to give Orion and the Dark to that new Orion. I imagine it was new to them. Thanks for sharing your own memories. We all have them, don't we?

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