Summertime is the time of diving into books you’ve been meaning to get to all year, or for cracking into newly discovered gems. This is one of those gems. I heard about it from one of my favorite child advocates, Robin Einzig (of Visible Child.) I’m not a big believer in offering books that preach or pander to young children, which is why I adore this sweet and simple story so much. It portrays such a relatable and familiar conundrum to children without pushing a hidden agenda or “teaching them a lesson.” It features a gender neutral protagonist, Taylor, who encounters a problem and is quickly greeted by many well-intentioned visitors, trying in different ways to help. One by one they come and offer their solutions, but nobody really considers Taylor. Until, this lovely and gentle Rabbit appears, slowly and softly…and just listens. Taylor is able to feel at ease and begins to move through all the emotions necessary to let go and move on. It is the most beautiful depiction of the kind of empathy I strive to give in those tricky circumstances when my children are overwhelmed with emotion, or even pushing me away.
I asked for this book for my birthday (my family is used to me asking for children’s literature by now, ha!) and my sister graciously gifted it to me. I immediately opened it and read it out loud to my kids, who sat and soaked it in with rapt attention. It has quickly become a favorite that they have been asking to read everyday. My 6 year old even “read” it to my 2 and a half year old before bed tonight.
The illustrations are gorgeous, and the flow of the story is seamless and effortless. I appreciate the opportunities it gives for children to interrupt with questions, or remark on what they notice in the drawings. It’s wonderful to see Taylor moving through different feelings and to see the expressions change. My son even exclaimed “that’s a MAD face” and mimicked it himself, which gave me the perfect opportunity to speak to him about the times when he has felt mad, or even when he’s seen me feel mad. That’s what books like this one do. They make space for those reflective conversations to happen organically, and provide a chance to revisit scary or sad moments within the safety of a story…or the safety of distance from the actual event.
It is stories like this that help simplify my overthinking mind and help me remember that there is precious little for me to do when someone else is upset. That being fully present is often more than enough to let someone know they are heard and supported as they figure things out. I need stories like this to share with my children because they help all of us figure out better ways to be together, and care for each other.
I know this will be one of those books we will read a thousand times, and always delight in. It’s definitely what I call a “keeper.”
To check out Robin Einzig’s work, look here.
And to order a copy of The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, look here.