By Cori Doerrfeld
Taylor spends ages building a wonderful tower of wooden bricks, only to have it knocked down by a flock of marauding birds. Lots of creatures try to console him, offering all sorts of suggestions that feel both irritating and irrelevant. The bear suggests shouting about it angrily and the elephant suggests remembering exactly how the tower was made. Only the rabbit helps – creeping close, giving Taylor a hug, listening to a rant without interrupting, sticking close until Taylor feels able to imagine moving forwards.
At EmpathyLab we’re always on the look-out for superb quality, non-didactic books which help develop some very specific empathy skills. Listening well is a key aspect of empathy, so we were thrilled to discover The Rabbit Listened, a picture book written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld, from Scallywag, a small press.
The book is beautifully written and illustrated, with clever use of layouts leaving plenty of white, reflective space. The sparse text and expressively illustrated rabbit combine to illuminate the healing effect of really being listened to and understood. The rabbit is brilliant at being still and quiet, and concentrating 100% on what Taylor is experiencing. Unlike the other animals, she refrains from offering advice, solutions and opinions .
We feature The Rabbit Listened heavily in EmpathyLab’s special listening focus for Empathy Day on 9 June. The Schools Toolkit for the Day has a section with a fun Listening Switch exercise, an audit to help children assess and break down their listening skills and an Empathy Listening voucher. Schools can get the Toolkit by emailing [email protected] or [email protected].