Whole Body Listening Larry at School


by Elizabeth Sautter and Kristen Wilson

for ages: 4-10

The Social Mind embraces neurodiversity and acknowledges the unique skills, identity and aspirations of every child and adult accessing our resources. We encourage users of our resources to work cooperatively with clients, to strengthen their unique sense of identity, and further develop their capacity to exercise agency in their lives.

In this adorable storybook, Larry teaches listening skills with thought-provoking rhymes that teach concrete, structured, and systematic lessons in a kid-friendly way. When his peers demonstrate that they aren’t listening, Larry helps them understand how this impacts others, and to support the thoughts and feelings of others by listening with every part of their body.

Buying Tip:  Larry teaches children through a rhyming poem about how to be more aware of how we listen with our whole bodies to help us process and respond to what is going on around us across our school day.  Using engaging illustrations and amusing examples, parents and children love exploring the Whole Body Listening concept through this book!

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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 two siblings, Leah and Luka, as they struggle to focus their brains and bodies during different situations throughout their school day.  Larry, a classmate, helps explain how they need to use more than their ears to listen when they are around others. This awareness not only helps them access the information being taught in school, but helps them learn how to work, play, and converse as part of a group. Preschool through 3rd grade students 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.

What People are Saying

  • Mark Siobhan – Parent to Twins with Asperger’s Syndrome

    “Who would have known that a book this enjoyable could help teachers meet listening comprehension grade standards? Using explicit language and wonderful illustrations, teachers can easily infuse this book and its lessons into their daily curriculum. The Whole Body Listening language has helped my child be more aware of how to connect with others during play, peer group work, and class instruction.”

  • Karen Kaplan – SLP, Executive Director, Autism Consultant

    “Each school year, the classroom teacher spends a great deal of time building a community of good listeners. Thanks to Elizabeth and Kristen, this job has just been made a whole lot easier! Whole Body Listening Larry at School presents an engaging story about a school buddy named Larry who provides gentle tips to his new classmates on how to listen with your entire body! Teachers, parents, and other caregivers will love the suggested activities, the clear and simple visuals, and the easy bridge to positive group discussions. Nice work!”

  • Natalie Walchuck – Principal

    “Success for all students in school requires an understanding of many complex social systems. Whole Body Listening Larry at School guides children through these social complexities with creative and engaging language and adorable illustrations. All of the additional games, activities, and lesson plans provide a great resource for educators. Every teacher, parent, and administrator should have this book on their shelf!”

  • Pamela Wolfberg – Associate Professor, Director

    “This charming little book is certain to be huge in helping young children of diverse abilities understand the hidden social conventions of life at school. Teachers, therapists, and parents will delight in sharing this book, as it will captivate the interest and attention of most every child. With its cheerfully rhyming text and highly animated illustrations, children will be drawn in and discover something new on every page while learning how to listen not only with one’s ears but the whole body— including the heart.”

Publishing Details

  • Ages: 4-10
  • Pages: 26
  • Format: Paperback
  • Item: 3326
  • Published: 2016


Additional information

Weight 0.17 g
Dimensions 5 × 5 × 5 cm

Young Children, Primary School


Kristen Wilson and Elizabeth Sautter

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