Picture Books That Show Children the Importance of Listening

by Jennifer Garry

Photo credit: wundervisuals, E+ Collection/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but some days it seems like my kids are completely unable to listen. I call my daughter’s name 472 times to let her know dinner is ready. I try to get her to stop chattering away and pay more attention to what’s happening around her before she slips wipes out on a wet floor. I told her not to leave her shoes in the middle of the steps for what felt like the 100th time this week. The struggle is real and teaching kids to listen and be attentive is no easy feat.

I’m not going to say these books are magical cure-alls, but they are pretty effective in getting kids thinking about the many different ways to “listen” and why they’re all so important.

  • Crunch, The Shy Dinosaur

    by Cirocco Dunlap, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

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    This book is the perfect choice for little readers who are learning to socialize and pick up on social cues. Crunch is a bashful brontosaurus who is hiding in some bushes because he’s super shy. The simple text coaches children to coax him out of his hiding spot by doing things like speaking softly and showing an interest in things he likes. It’s a great way to show kids how to listen and observe unspoken signals when making new friends.

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  • Strega Nona

    by Tomie dePaola

    Strega Nona is the classic tale of how things can go terribly wrong when you don’t listen. When the magical Strega Nona hires Big Anthony to help her out around the house, she gives him one rule: Do not touch the pasta pot. Big Anthony does not listen — and he almost destroys the whole town because of it! This book is a great way to show kids that rules are made for a reason and not listening to them could lead to big trouble.

  • Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!

    by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton

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    Owen McPhee loves to talk. He talks all day long. He talks to his teachers, his classmates, his parents, his dog, and even himself. But sometimes all of that talking means he doesn’t do such a great job listening. He doesn’t follow directions, he interrupts at storytime, and he spoils movie plots. One day Owen wakes up with laryngitis and is suddenly forced to do a lot more listening, which presents him with a really great opportunity to listen more closely to what other people have to say.

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  • That Is Not a Good Idea!

    by Mo Willems

    This hilarious book was inspired by the evil villains and innocent damsels of silent movies. When a hungry fox invites a plump, old goose to dinner, little chicks warn that it is not a good idea. The chicks are completely ignored and, in the end, someone will wish they had listened. This story is a good way to talk to kids about listening to the little voices inside their heads that tell them when something isn’t quite right.

  • Wordy Birdy

    by Tami Sauer, illustrated by Dave Mottram

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    Like Owen McPhee, Wordy Birdy likes to talk a lot. She talks her way through just about everything, but she doesn’t stop to listen much. One day, while she’s walking through the forest, the inattentive bird narrates her travels without realizing there’s a sign warning her of danger ahead. Fortunately, a team of animal friends band together to save her and teach her the importance of paying attention.

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  • The Rabbit Listened

    by Cori Doerrfeld

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    This book is a powerful reminder of the good listening can do. Taylor builds an incredible block fortress but it suddenly, unexpectedly comes crashing down. Taylor is completely distraught and a small army of animals come through one by one, each giving lots of advice on the best way to deal with Taylor’s loss. Then Rabbit comes along and Rabbit just listens, which turns out to be exactly what Taylor needs. Sweet and simple, it reminds both kids and adults that sometimes the best way to be there for someone is to just listen.

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Which books about the importance of listening would you recommend for young readers? Let us know in the comments below!