She’s not shy; She’s introverted

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Do you know the difference between shyness and introversion? I’m in a self-help group (of 1) of parents who don’t always understand really, really, really introverted kids. Maybe you’ll join me. Or maybe you’re that introvert who wants to be understood, like my daughter.

So, the big question — what is introversion?

It’s all about your energy.

I bet you know about extroversion already.  Extroverts get their energy from . . . say it all together now . . . being around other people.

So, introverts get their energy from . . . (any guesses?) . . . being alone.

It’s not shyness.

Shyness is a social anxiety.

It’s all about energy.

Introverts can be very social; they just need time to recharge their batteries away from others. Introversion is a temperament – not a behavior.

Think about the children in your life.  Do you know any who are introverts? They might

– need more processing time

– like to watch before participating

– not make eye contact

– only have one or two friends

– find it difficult to share their feelings

– learn by observing

– be very smart, even gifted

If this sounds familiar, you will want to read The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.  It’s helped me understand my “innie” and  her unique gifts. I reread it often.

As parents and teachers, I hope that we think about the needs of the introverts in our homes and classrooms — the world is designed by extroverts, for extroverts.  We need to give equal consideration to our introverts, too.

Introverts in Chapter Books

My list is from books I’ve personally read, and in no way complete nor perfect. If you want to add a suggestion or contest a book on my list, please comment below.

Franny K. Stein books by Jim Benton

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer

Wish Girl by Nikki Lofting

Stonebird by Mike Revell

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Stoker and Holmes series by Colleen Gleason

introverted characters in children's literature

Do you have an introverted child?

Photo credit: rolands.lakis / / CC BY

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  1. Thank you for this! I’m an extrovert from the word go, but last week my 5yo daughter asked me why I always “think outside outside my head.” She &I will be on a life long journey to understand one another.

  2. Great post. As an introvert (with one introvert and two extroverts to raise), I’ve always been interested in introversion and extroversion. Another EXCELLENT book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I loved that one!

  3. Me, my 2 year old & my hubby are all introverts – we live in a rather quiet house! 😀 My little boy is 4 months … he’s showing signs of being an extrovert – we’ll see. The other thing I would like to remind people – just because you’re introverted does not necessarily mean you’re shy too. I am not that shy, I like to be social and most people find me quite outgoing – BUT I need to have my alone time – and a lot of it! It’s when I recharge. So, sometimes that happy-go-lucky bubbly gal, she’s actually introverted and is only this bubbly for a short duration of the day. Then she needs her ‘me time’ to recharge – all to give it out again the next day!

  4. As a life-long introvert with extrovert sons and partner, I can relate to this, but I am shy too, so the two can sometimes (though not always) go hand in hand. What I have found difficult to understand is the increasing shyness of my socially extrovert eldest son. To me, to be extrovert but also shy is just plain weird – almost a contradiction in terms.I suppose it demonstrates that shyness is something separate.

    It’s true that the world just doesn’t understand introverts. I love being with my friends and family, but can be very anti-social sometimes in terms of avoiding company, and am often happiest doing things on my own, and in my own way. Lots of people think that weird. It can also mean that I am difficult to get to know!

  5. Hmmm….I’ve spent most of my like thinking of myself as shy, and much of my daughters life thinking she’s shy. When reading this I had an aha moment. We’re not shy, we’re introverted! Very interesting! I also have an introverted husband and 2 extroverted children. It’s very challanging trying to meet my eldest childs need for socialization. Thanks for this post, I’m going to read up more about this!