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The Children's Bookshelf: Listen

LISTEN written by Gabi Snyder and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin is an interesting walk through all the noise of the day and how to understand the difference between hearing and listening.

The first spread is packed with fun as the reader sees a girl sharing an ordinary day outside with dogs, cars, trucks, and motorbikes and the loud noises they make------WOOF! BEEP! VROOM! The story then gently begins to ask the reader to listen to the softer sounds of the day such as shoes slapping on the sidewalk, rain falling on an umbrella, a ball bouncing on a basketball court, children jumping rope and a child saying hello to a friend.

The illustrations rendered in pencil, watercolor and beautiful shades of blue, bring the young reader from the soundscape of the neighborhood including the sound of the wind moving through the trees right into the little girl’s house where there can be found sounds that are even more quiet. The tender picture of the little girl in her bedroom with her eyes closed while gently petting her little cat is perfect. “Listen past the quiet,” says the author. “Can you hear the voice inside you?”

The back material talks further about the real difference between hearing and listening and why both are very important.

LISTEN written by Gabi Snyder and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin is a well put forth picture book for readers 4-8 years of age about all kinds of hearing and listening including the very important kind which is carefully listening to friends (A Paula Wiseman Book/ Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for LISTEN

There are a great many onomatopoeic words in this book. They are words that stand for the sound they make such as WOOF, BEEP and VAROOM! Think about the sounds you hear at home, in the park and at school. Make a word list of all the onomatopoeic words you have heard.

Then get to work and sound them out aloud as if you were performing the list for an audience. Have fun with your soundscape!

What words make you feel happy? Why? What words make you feel sad. Why? Draw a picture of you surrounding by your happy words. Now, draw a picture of you surrounded by your sad words.

The author of this book asks you to listen past the quiet to see if you can hear your own breathing. Tonight, when you are climbing into bed, close your eyes and concentrate on listening to the sounds of the night. Can you hear the wind outside your window, or a car going passed your house, or the television that is on in another room, or the dryer finishing up a load of clothes, or Mom and Dad talking quietly? When you are super relaxed try to listen to your own breathing.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.