Australian Catholics magazine speaks to Fiona Basile about her children’s book Shhh… God is in the Silence.
Why did you decide to write a children’s book about God?
I wanted to get to the heart of it—that God loves us and lives in our heart. I imagined a parent or teacher reading these beautiful and affirming words over and over to a young child— ‘I love you, you are precious, there is no-one else like you, I created you, you are mine, you are safe.’ I could imagine the message being reinforced each time they heard the message. It’s simple, yet deeply profound.
You’ve been doing readings in schools.
How do children respond to the book?
Something definitely happens from when I start with the first ‘shhh’. Once I have read a few pages, the children understand the rhythm and usually join in— it’s beautiful. I’ve developed a prayer activity sheet to complement the classroom book readings, which the teachers appreciate and the children enjoy working on.
Where did you get your inspiration?
I wrote the whole book during a 30-day silent retreat I took part in, in Malta, late 2015. The words came to me in the middle of the night.
The illustrations are beautiful. How did they come about?
Alice Mount drew the illustrations. She is a religious education and visual communication design teacher at a Melbourne secondary school.
What were the books you remember that helped introduce you to God as a child?
The sad thing is that I have no memory of being read books about God in my childhood. God was an abstract concept until my adult life.
My hope is that the book can be used as a tool for parents, grandparents, teachers, parish priests—anyone reading the book, really—to encourage children to find time for silence, to listen to their heart and to know that God loves them.
Find out more at www.godisinthesilence.com.