Listening IS an Act of Love

Aug 13

Listening is an act of love, originally uploaded by allicette.

As part of my summer reading aloud shtick I chose a book of short, inspiring stories. I figured they were easier to follow and would keep everyone’s attention because when you are reading a book with 3 other people–over the age of 14–it is difficult to find a time and to keep everyone engaged. I chose, Listening Is an Act of Love: A celebration of American life from the Storycorps project edited by Dave Isay. This is the second ‘Storycorps‘ compilation I’ve read and I just loved it! We all did.

Storycorps is ‘the largest oral history project in the nation’s (United States) history’.1 From their website,

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

The heart of StoryCorps is the conversation between two people who are important to each other: a son asking his mother about her childhood, an immigrant telling his friend about coming to America, or a couple reminiscing on their 50th wedding anniversary. By helping people to connect, and to talk about the questions that matter, the StoryCorps experience is powerful and sometimes even life-changing.

Our goal is to make that experience accessible to all, and find new ways to inspire people to record and preserve the stories of someone important to them. Just as powerful is the experience of listening. Whenever people listen to these stories, they hear the courage, humor, trials and triumphs of an incredible range of voices.

“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how truly great it is to be alive.

Dave Isay,
Founder, StoryCorps

This book is a compilation of stories from these interviews. I think we cried through the majority of them, not sad tears, mostly heartwarming… inspired tears. This is a book filled with the stories of real Americans. We are not Jersey Shore, Jerry Springer or any other reality TV. We are everyday people whose lives revolve around family, love, hard work and kindness. We are motivated by the genuine desire to take care of our families and to make a friend smile. These stories highlight what is really important to people in this country.

The essence of America lies not in the headlined heroes… but in the everyday folks who live and die unknown, yet leave their dreams as legacies. — Alan Lomax, 1940

This book is filled with stories of home and family, work and dedication, journeys, history and struggle, fire and water. From the personal tale of loves found, loves lost, loves and families sustained to the overwhelming support of the NPR Storycorps listeners comforting an-amazingly-loved widow…it is the extraordinary life stories of everyday people. The Storycorps project really is profound, this excerpt explains perfectly how important it is for people to be heard, to be acknowledged,

[A man who lived in ‘a flop house on the Bowery in New York City, where homeless men slept in prison-cell-size rooms covered in chicken wire for as little as five dollars a night’] looked at his story, took it in his hands, and literally danced through the halls of the old hotel shouting, “I exist! I exist!” [Dave Isay] was stunned. [He] realized as never before how many people among us feel completely invisible, believe their lives don’t matter, and fear they’ll someday be forgotten. 

The book is perfect to read aloud with others. Read it with your family, with friends, with your loved ones. It should be required reading in American history classes. These are the stories no one puts in texts. These are the stories no one makes a hollywood movie about but should!

I would definitely recommend Listening Is an Act of Love to anyone. And I would also urge you to be a part of Storycorps, record your story, record your wife’s or husband’s story. Record your neighbor’s story. Help make history more real for future generations. And it may just change your life…


  1. Cover of Listening Is an Act of Love []

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