Download the free Whole Body Listening Larry coloring page to pair with the book!
How often do you find yourself using phrases with children such as, “pay attention” or “listen carefully”? When we make these requests, we may not realize that we’re giving kids an unspoken expectation that we want them to stop whatever they are doing and show us they are listening with their whole body (look at us, keep still, think about what we said, etc.). However, do we ever really teach them this expectation? And then what happens when the child doesn’t show those behaviors? We feel frustrated and assume they aren’t listening, don’t want to comply, etc.
In this charming and colorfully illustrated storybook, authors Sautter and Wilson explore and expand upon the original whole body listening concept created by Susanne Poulette Truesdale (1990). While our WBL Larry books are designed to help all children understand that we listen with more than our ears, these books are also helpful for students with social learning challenges as we explicitly describe implicit expectations about what it means to “listen”.
The rhyming poem describes Larry’s sister Lucy, as she struggles to focus her brain, feel, mouth and other body parts during different situations throughout her day at home. Larry helps explain how she needs to use more than their ears to listen when she is around others–she needs to use her whole body! Thanks to Larry’s help, Lucy’s improved self-awareness and self-regulation help her become more connected to others. Preschool through 3rd grade kids love the antics of our characters as they teach this important concept in a very fun manner!
What is Whole Body Listening?
Whole Body Listening is more than just “hearing” with the ears. It includes:
- listening with the eyes (looking at the speaker)
- listening with the mouth (closed and quiet – no talking, humming, making sounds, etc.)
- listening with the body (facing the speaker)
- listening with the hands (quietly at the side of the body or in the lap)
- listening with the feet (standing still or quietly on the floor)
- listening with the brain (thinking about what the speaker is saying)
- and listening with the heart (caring about what the speaker is saying)
Being a good listener means much more than just hearing what is said with the ears. It is important to break down ALL of the components of listening for your child. Many children hear various statements like, “Show me good listening” or “I need you to listen”; however, we often forget to talk about what that means. When the entire family understands the components of Whole Body Listening, you can give specific instruction about which areas of listening you would like your child to improve – “Sally, I need you to listen with your feet.”
In teaching the concept, flexibility is an important factor. Each person is different and should be assessed for individual needs and support, a point we spotlight in these new editions. We hope this will help encourage discussion and that adult stakeholders will better understand ways to adapt the teaching of WBL. The article “Taking a Deeper Look at Whole Body Listening” (Sautter, 2016) shares more information on how to modify and accommodate for each body part involved and the different challenges our children face.
How to use this book:
Take the time to look at all the photos, and have your child think about what it means to listen with each body part. Talk about how the characters in this book feel when they are not listening or being listened to. Then ask your child how he or she feels when someone IS or IS NOT listening with their whole body when he or she is talking. Finally, discuss the impression that your child makes on the speaker when your child is not using Whole Body Listening.
About the Authors
Kristen Wilson, MS CCC, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in working with children, teens and adults with autism, social differences and language disorders. She is a Southern California native who has enjoyed working in a variety of settings over the past decade. She believes building self esteem and self awareness is the key to successful therapy. Kristen lives in Placentia, CA with her husband.
Elizabeth Sautter, MA, CCC, is a speech-language pathologist and co-director/owner of Communication Works, an Oakland, CA-based private practice that provides speech, language and occupational therapy. She has specialized in supporting those with autism, developmental disabilities and social cognitive deficits for over 15 years. Since 2001, Elizabeth has focused her practice on social learning interventions, helping clients understand the thoughts of others and improving their social skills. Additionally, her relationships with her sister and extended family members with special needs have made her work a life-long endeavor. She resides in Oakland with her husband and two sons.
Eric Hutchison has been working professionally in the arts and entertainment industry for almost 10 years and currently resides with his wife and two children in Southern California.
What People are Saying
Kari Dunn Buron – Autism Education Specialist, Author
“I love this book! Who would have thought you could listen with your feet!? This delightful story uses rhymes and beautifully expressive illustrations to teach children, parents, and teachers about the subtle nature of nonverbal social communication. The more we learn about the importance of our body language, the more likely we are to be socially successful. This book is a perfect way to start children on that journey.”
HIlary R. Altman – Chair of Communication Department, Merrit College
“This book is fantastic for teaching the ‘secrets of listening’ to kids who find communication and social skills challenging. This book helps kids discover and identify essential expected behaviors for attending and appearing appropriate in their listening behaviors in a variety of situations.”
Emily Rubin – Director, Communication Crossroads
“Children with social learning differences and their families will enjoy this straightforward, fun, and positive guide to whole body listening at home. Children will learn that it is not only their words that convey messages to others but also their eyes, hands, mouth, brain, and heart. Real-life experiences and enticing illustrations emphasize why whole body listening is important. They also essentially hook the reader to try out these tools to be more successful interacting with others.”
Stephanie Madrigal – Social Cognitive Specialist, Author
“Larry at Home is a creative and fun way to explore whole body listening. Kristen and Elizabeth have given us a great tool for teachers, therapists, and parents to use to teach the challenging concepts of listening and attending. The illustrations and the simplicity of the story make it a fun and engaging book and will prompt great discussions with students. I can’t wait to start reading this to my young students!”
- Ages: 4-10
- Pages: 26
- Format: Paperback
- Item: 9781936943319
- Published: 2016