It is a marvel at how picture books can hold the most important life lessons in simple ways. We only need to pay attention to the subtleties and visuals.

Two picture books show the power of silence almost as a character. The silence of the listener can help the protagonist get over her grief. The healer is in the second case, the protagonist’s silence and her decision about when to break it that she makes. Both are powerful stories about dealing with loss, one that is brief and almost insignificant, the other that is long-lasting and heartbreaking.

THE RABBIT LISTENED is my favourite because it’s the one I reach for when I meet parents to discuss how and why they should embrace picture books before introducing their children to them.

This book is simple, but it conceals the most important truth about relationships: the art of creating space and companionable silence between people in various situations and circumstances. It’s about how to keep our unspoken two-bits private when we see someone in distress, in grief, or in any other unpleasant emotion that is not positive. It is our job to offer suggestions for ways to make them feel better. How often do you find yourself able to be around someone without any ‘you shoulds, ‘you ought-to or ‘why don’t yous’? Then, stay around until they finally start to act and unburden themselves.

This book shows young Taylor in complete sadness, anger, and frustration as the building blocks that he carefully stacked come crashing down, thanks to some birds flying by. You and I know what follows: A series of friendly suggestions from all sides about what he should do next.

The chicken is the first to arrive and offer advice (and commiserate).

Next is the bear. Then came the elephant. Then came the elephant.

“But Taylor didn’t feel like doing anything with anyone.

They all fled, and Taylor was left alone.

Then a rabbit suddenly appears, just like the loud and vocal others, lugging their opinions around.

“In all the silence, Taylor didn’t even notice the rabbit.

It moved closer and closer. Taylor was able to feel its warm body until that point.

These words show how picture books can communicate a thousand words in just five words.

The following is a beautiful tango between the boy’s silence and the rabbit’s nose. It has read one of my favourite picture books for as long as I can recall.

“Together, they sat silently until Taylor spoke, ‘Please remain with me.

“The rabbit listened.”

The rabbit watches as Taylor talks and shouts and works his way through his frustrations until he has enough light over himself to want to rebuild.

When I meet parents to discuss how and why they should embrace picture books before introducing their children to them.

This book is simple, but it conceals the most important truth about relationships: the art of creating space and companionable silence between people in various situations and circumstances. It’s about how to keep our unspoken two-bits private when we see someone in distress, in grief, or in any other unpleasant emotion that is not positive. It is our job to offer suggestions for ways to make them feel better. How often do you find yourself able to be around someone without any ‘you shoulds, ‘you ought-to or ‘why don’t yous’? Then, stay around until they finally start to act and unburden themselves.

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