Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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Books for talking about listening fill our Ten Titles list this week. Find here a collection of books about the confusion that ensues when we fail to listen to each other. You can read these titles with your students to engage them in conversations about the importance of listening for a community of learners.

"I Have a Little Problem," Said the Bear

This week's feature book "I Have a Little Problem," Said the Bear is perfect for teaching young readers and writers the importance of listening to each other. In this book, the main character has a problem, and everyone has a solution. The only problem is that they don't listen to what his problem is before giving a solution!

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +


In this book by Peter H. Reynolds, readers learn that creative work does not have to be perfect. The main character, Ramon, has an older brother who questions the realism of Ramon's artwork. But Raymond soon realizes that, while his artwork isn't perfect, he can communicate ideas and enjoy the creative process. This is a great read for students (and grown-ups) with perfectionist tendencies.

Listen Buddy

This hilarious story, written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Musinger, is about a Bunny named Buddy who has a listening problem despite his prominent ears. While he is capable of listening properly, he rarely does. For example, when his father asks for a pen, Buddy brings him a hen! As the book goes on, Buddy's listening problem causes persistent confusion, and offer great conversation starts for classrooms!

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

I Can Hear the Sun

This is truly a masterpiece by Patricia Polacco. In this book, a young boy befriends a blind Canadian goose. With Polacco's hallmark combination of fine writing and masterful illustration, I Can Hear the Sun teaches that outer appearances can be deceiving, and that before you judge somebody, you must get to know them first.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Brace yourself: this book will evoke tremendous emotion. Edward Tulane is a beloved porcelain doll owned by a wealthy child who does not appreciate him. When he is separated from the girl he experiences a number of learning trials that help him change his view of the world from that of privilege to that of appreciation. Lovely and moving, Kate DiCamillo's book will give you an opportunity to reflect on the ways that everyone's voice is worth hearing.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Have You Heard? Active Listening

Part of "Slim Goodbody's Lifeskills 101" series, Have You Heard? Active Listeningis a child-friendly introduction to basic communication skills. John Burstein offers accessible guidance in making eye contact, asking questions, focusing attention, giving feedback, and other aspects of listening well. Have You Heard? Active Listening offers nonfiction fodder for exploring habits students can develop and practice as they learn to listen to each other.

Peter & the Wolf

This is the Peter and the Wolfmany of us grew up with. Narrated by Boris Karloff, who is accompanied by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, this timeless story offers children a musical introduction to story structure, instrumentation, and listening. Follow the "order this book" link above to access sample MP3 options in Amazon. This may send you back to your childhood!

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The Listeners

After toiling in the cotton fields, Ella May and the other young children still have work to do...they must listen. "As small as cotton seeds and as quiet as shadows" they crouch next to the master's window, the melody of the piano serving as an accompaniment for news that determines the fate of their family and life on the plantation. Listening elicits feelings of joy and sorrow, the lilting recitation of poetry, news of a slave school, the somber threat of a fellow slave being sold, and the promise of freedom upon the news of Lincoln's election. Mike Benny's gentle illustrations breathe life into Whelan's poignant story.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin

"With mournful moan and silken tone, itself alone comes one trombone." Such language makes this Caldecott honor book written by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman beg to be read aloud. The poetic style with internal rhyme lends itself to listening audiences. With equally rhythmic images, Marjorie Priceman's pictures entice your eyes while the words hold your mind in rapt attention.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Fierce Conversations

"What topic are you hoping I won't bring up?" Such questions form the backbone of Susan Scott's Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success in Work and Life, One Conversation at a Time. Fierce listening characterizes the fierce conversations Scott endorses, and her brand of listening and talking is likely to give you insight into your relationships, whether at work or at home. This is a must-read if you are a coach, parent, teacher, principal, etc.