Looking for a new SEL read aloud to add to your classroom library? Please do yourself a favor and keep reading.
When I was living in Denver, I found my go-to children’s bookstore. Second Star to the Right. It was this ADORABLE colorful house on my favorite shopping street in the metro area. Even better, the owners were previous teachers and their staff was always so excellent at recommending books for me.
One day they handed me a book that I will forever be thankful I have now. A book that still teaches me a lesson each time I read it. A book I tear up in each time I read. A classroom favorite every. single. year.
That book is The Rabbit Listened.
Where do I even start with this? I suppose with a summary.
The Rabbit Listened is about the main character, Taylor, who constructs a building of blocks and is so proud. Suddenly, a flock of crows sweep through and knock it all down. Taylor is left in shock. Many animals come with all sorts of advice that Taylor isn’t interested in and they all end up leaving angry at Taylor. When Taylor feels all alone, a rabbit comes and takes a seat. Not one word is said. This is all Taylor needed. Someone who was there.
What a lesson to us all! The first time I read this, it was such a revelation to me and made total sense because I have definitely been Taylor. There are some places where I really just don’t want advice. I just need someone who will be there for me.
My family knows I love this book and I’ve told them, “I aspire to be the rabbit in The Rabbit Listened.”
I read this book so many times throughout the year because it helps reinforce to our class that we’re a team. We need to be there for each other. We need to pick up on social cues.
I also use this as a lesson when approaching behavior in the classroom. When someone is upset, I approach them and say, “Would you like someone to sit with you or would you rather have space?” Whichever choice they make, I honor. I once had a student who told me he just wanted me to sit with him. I assured him that’s exactly what I would do and we just sat together. I think it’s important that students learn at a young age to advocate for their needs when they’re upset. It’s a pretty hard thing to do if you haven’t practiced it a lot. That’s another lesson the book taught me.
I’m married and my husband definitely has a “fix it” personality. Any time I bring up something that’s bothering me, he counters it with a way to fix it or how it’s not as bad as someone else’s situation. He means well, but it’s not always what I need. This book taught me to recognize what I need and to tell people about it. One day he was mid-advice and I said, “I don’t want advice, I want you to listen and support me.” And he gave me what I needed.
A close family member of mine recently lost a loved one and my sister and I were in her room to check in on her. I decided I would be the rabbit and I just sat with her. Didn’t offer advice. Didn’t really say anything. I listened to her whenever she felt ready to talk about it. Suddenly she looked at me and said, “You’re doing a really good job at being the rabbit.” and I burst into tears. Not only is it a good lesson, it’s effective. People really do just want you to be there for them sometimes.
I cannot compliment this book enough. I mean it, this book has taught me so much. And if it is teaching me this much, I can only imagine how it’s shaping students of our society each time it’s read to them.
Again, if you’re looking for an excellent SEL book to add to either your own library or your classroom library, I highly suggest this one (obviously).
I decided since I read this so much throughout the year, why not make a book companion to go with it? You’ll find in my store The Rabbit Listened Reading Response Journal. Here is a quick video of what this journal looks like.
This journal covers story elements, character feelings, open-ended questions, inferring, and text connections.