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Listening With My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion

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When Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock, she sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love in the world. But when the school play doesn’t go the way she’d imagined, will she remember to give it to herself? In today’s hypercompetitive world, kids often internalize the message that their worth is attached to their accomplishments and that messing up is something to be as When Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock, she sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love in the world. But when the school play doesn’t go the way she’d imagined, will she remember to give it to herself? In today’s hypercompetitive world, kids often internalize the message that their worth is attached to their accomplishments and that messing up is something to be ashamed of, rather than a normal part of life, which can lead to critical self-talk. Listening with My Heart reminds us of the other golden rule—to treat ourselves like we would treat a friend. When we do this, we are practicing self-compassion. Listening with My Heart is a beautifully illustrated book that touches on the universal themes of kindness, empathy and self-compassion. It includes kid-friendly self-compassion / mindfulness exercises.


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When Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock, she sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love in the world. But when the school play doesn’t go the way she’d imagined, will she remember to give it to herself? In today’s hypercompetitive world, kids often internalize the message that their worth is attached to their accomplishments and that messing up is something to be as When Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock, she sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love in the world. But when the school play doesn’t go the way she’d imagined, will she remember to give it to herself? In today’s hypercompetitive world, kids often internalize the message that their worth is attached to their accomplishments and that messing up is something to be ashamed of, rather than a normal part of life, which can lead to critical self-talk. Listening with My Heart reminds us of the other golden rule—to treat ourselves like we would treat a friend. When we do this, we are practicing self-compassion. Listening with My Heart is a beautifully illustrated book that touches on the universal themes of kindness, empathy and self-compassion. It includes kid-friendly self-compassion / mindfulness exercises.

30 review for Listening With My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    While the central themes pertaining to practicing self-love and not being too hard on oneself are of course and indeed of the utmost importance and significance, personally and from a simple reading pleasure point of view, I have found Gabi Garcia's Listening With My Heart much much too message-heavy and frustratingly contrived (read artificial) and thus really not all that realistic either. For while I do tend to agree with EVERYTHING the author has stated, it (at least to and for me) does not While the central themes pertaining to practicing self-love and not being too hard on oneself are of course and indeed of the utmost importance and significance, personally and from a simple reading pleasure point of view, I have found Gabi Garcia's Listening With My Heart much much too message-heavy and frustratingly contrived (read artificial) and thus really not all that realistic either. For while I do tend to agree with EVERYTHING the author has stated, it (at least to and for me) does not make all that much common sense that Esperanza almost immediately seems to overcome her self loathing, her personal criticism and doubt without all that much pain and personal struggling (after having tripped during the school play). And quite frankly, Esperanza's philosophical musings about being kind to oneself, sorry, but they sound and read more like the utterances of an adult than those of a child, they actually feel like the words of a preacher or priest delivering a sermon, a homily (or perhaps the advice of a psychologist, a rehabilitation therapist). And although I would not go so far as to not recommend Listening With My Heart, for I do (as I already have pointed out) very much agree with the ALL of the messages Gabi Garcia has featured, the saccharine, cloyingly sweet, unrealistic storyline and that Esperanza is in many ways almost (no absolutely) too good to be true (even overcoming her obstacles with lightning speed), all this has made Listening With My Heart much too unsubtle and on-the-surface and most definitely too annoyingly, frustratingly preachy for me to consider but a high one star ranking at best (as even Ying Hui Tan's accompanying illustrations, while indeed brightly colourful and expressive, are also a bit too visually and sickeningly over-sweet for me to in any way aesthetically enjoy them, with Esperanza's and her mother's huge eyes also appearing more than a trifle unnatural, even creepy).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Kapadia

    Just purchased this for my friend's 5-year old and think this is a very sweet book with a very good message. I love the ways this book enacts inclusion and gives examples of how to enact compassion in the everyday. Just purchased this for my friend's 5-year old and think this is a very sweet book with a very good message. I love the ways this book enacts inclusion and gives examples of how to enact compassion in the everyday.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mario MJ Perron

    Love Beautifully written. Beautifully illustrated. Excellent message for all ages. I can't wait to read this to my class and I very much appreciate the lesson prompts at the end of the story. This is a wonderful story and lesson plan all in one. Love Beautifully written. Beautifully illustrated. Excellent message for all ages. I can't wait to read this to my class and I very much appreciate the lesson prompts at the end of the story. This is a wonderful story and lesson plan all in one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eve Costarelli

    Listening With My Heart: A Story Of Kindness And Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia shares the messages of awareness, self -respect and friendliness, using positive self talk within a story that empowers you to being true to yourself. The spirit of the book is openhearted and generous and the illustrations are super adorable. The message is clear-be compassionate and kind to yourself so that you can reach past yourself and extend the kindness to others. The illustrator, Ying Hui Tan, has really deve Listening With My Heart: A Story Of Kindness And Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia shares the messages of awareness, self -respect and friendliness, using positive self talk within a story that empowers you to being true to yourself. The spirit of the book is openhearted and generous and the illustrations are super adorable. The message is clear-be compassionate and kind to yourself so that you can reach past yourself and extend the kindness to others. The illustrator, Ying Hui Tan, has really developed her style and palette. The children's wide-eyed expressive faces display great emotion and work in beautiful unison with the words. I love the layering effects and the wide use of texture. The back of the book has some wonderful kindness activities. All around, this is simply a lovely book! I highly recommend this books. It makes a great read aloud to share with children, students, parents and teachers. This book should be in libraries, classrooms and homes! Full Disclosure: The author sent me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Stritzel

    This is a great read for counselors who work with younger children who are faced with neglect and abuse traumas to help them .

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Peppers

    Very thoughtful The illustrations were perfect. The message was clear. This book teaches children to love themselves, and gives tips on how they can do so.

  7. 4 out of 5

    BRENDAN HAYES

    Love it so much It’s so awesome and great it reminds me about how I need to be kind to every one,including myself. love it so much

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kaylee Mouser

    This book is about not only being kind to others, but being kind to yourself. Young Esperanza was rehearsing for her play outside when she came across something on the floor, a heart shaped rock. She felt that it was a sign that she needed to put her heart into everything she does. She wanted to be the spotlife of the play. As she talked to her mom about this, they heard a kitten cry. They hold it as Esperanza feeds it some of her lunch. She begs her mom to keep the kitten she had so quickly nam This book is about not only being kind to others, but being kind to yourself. Young Esperanza was rehearsing for her play outside when she came across something on the floor, a heart shaped rock. She felt that it was a sign that she needed to put her heart into everything she does. She wanted to be the spotlife of the play. As she talked to her mom about this, they heard a kitten cry. They hold it as Esperanza feeds it some of her lunch. She begs her mom to keep the kitten she had so quickly named, Cleocatra. Her mother says yes if the kitten is still there after school. She gets to school and her only focus is the play. Esperanza shows her kindness throughout the story, especially when she became friends with Bao. She had her play and stumbled in the middle of her lines, she is embarrassed and completely forgets what she is supposed to say. She hides behind stage with disappointment because she feels as if she has ruined the whole play. She takes out her heart rock that is now shattered, holds it to her heart tightly. Bao reminds her that she needs to be kind to herself. Listening to her heart doesn't just mean being kind to others, it means being kind to yourself. She thinks back to times at soccer games that people around her would make fun of her for messing up and how it would make her feel like she ruined the game. She reflects back on this play and realizes that it's not ruined, and that everyone makes mistakes. She decides to be kind to herself. She goes home, rides the bike she loves, hugs her mom and cuddles with her cat. She is now being kind to herself I like this book and I can relate as I'm sure many kids can too. There will be times in life that we mess up and make mistakes. But, what's important is to know it's not the end of the world. It's your reaction. Don't change how you view yourself based on what other people are saying. You just have to love yourself a little extra during those times and know that mistakes are part of learning. I feel like the message of the book was rushed a little, but other than that I thought it was a good read

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah McMullin

    Esperanza is a young girl who is super excited, yet nervous, for a class play that she is in later that night. On her way out the door for school, she finds a heart shape rock. She uses this rock as inspiration throughout the rest of the day to ensure that she is using her heart in all of her actions. She does this by being a good friend, helping others, and caring for others and herself. The illustrations in this book were helpful in bringing the story to life. The story on its own can be easily Esperanza is a young girl who is super excited, yet nervous, for a class play that she is in later that night. On her way out the door for school, she finds a heart shape rock. She uses this rock as inspiration throughout the rest of the day to ensure that she is using her heart in all of her actions. She does this by being a good friend, helping others, and caring for others and herself. The illustrations in this book were helpful in bringing the story to life. The story on its own can be easily imagined but pictures bring it that extra step. Ying Hui Tan is a popular children’s illustrator and she had her own reference page at the end of the book. She has focused on many different stories but using her pictures to make the stories become real life. I rated this book a 5 star rating because it shows a very good theme for children. This story encourages children to think and display their actions with kindness. After reading this, children should be encouraged to also listen with their heart.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kiarra Barr

    "Listening with my Heart" is about a little girl named Esperanza who meets a school friend named Bao from Vietnam. She learns to be friends with him and also learns to be friends with herself by adopting "the other golden rule" which is to treat ourselves like we would treat a friend. In this wonderful story, full of wisdom, a lot happens. Esperanza befriends a stray cat and calls her Cleocatra, performs at school and soccer games, and learns to cope with self-compassion with feelings of sorrow. "Listening with my Heart" is about a little girl named Esperanza who meets a school friend named Bao from Vietnam. She learns to be friends with him and also learns to be friends with herself by adopting "the other golden rule" which is to treat ourselves like we would treat a friend. In this wonderful story, full of wisdom, a lot happens. Esperanza befriends a stray cat and calls her Cleocatra, performs at school and soccer games, and learns to cope with self-compassion with feelings of sorrow. Actually, the storyline aims to help teach compassion and empathy. This is an outstanding teaching book on the meaning and practice of self-compassion. I love that it incorporates the value of demonstrating compassion and gentleness within ourselves and to others. Children will connect to and appreciate this story, and it also uses different characters to make it inclusive for all children! For children of all ages, I would approve of this book because there is something in it for everyone to learn something from.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annie Lynn of AnnieBirdd Music, LLC

    Wonderful Author finds Wonderful Artist & MAGIC! I wasn’t expecting much from this book because I thought it might be babyish. Surprisingly I found myself sucked into the story, the feelings, & the illustrations which are incredible and completely represent what the author describes. This book should be in every classroom. If all kids could learn the level of heart swelling empathy that these main protagonists have, the world would be a better place, I’m certain. I hope to order this book if it Wonderful Author finds Wonderful Artist & MAGIC! I wasn’t expecting much from this book because I thought it might be babyish. Surprisingly I found myself sucked into the story, the feelings, & the illustrations which are incredible and completely represent what the author describes. This book should be in every classroom. If all kids could learn the level of heart swelling empathy that these main protagonists have, the world would be a better place, I’m certain. I hope to order this book if it is hard cover. Great work and congratulations to all involved on a terrific (and even song-worthy) book! 😊

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mervin Wilson

    This book shows vulnerability through messages of awareness, self -respect and friendliness, using positive self talk within a story that empowers you to being true to yourself. The book at its core is openhearted and generous. The message seems to promote self compassion and kindness to the point where you can reach past yourself and extend the kindness to others. The illustrator, Ying Hui Tan, has really developed her style and palette. The children's wide-eyed expressive faces display great e This book shows vulnerability through messages of awareness, self -respect and friendliness, using positive self talk within a story that empowers you to being true to yourself. The book at its core is openhearted and generous. The message seems to promote self compassion and kindness to the point where you can reach past yourself and extend the kindness to others. The illustrator, Ying Hui Tan, has really developed her style and palette. The children's wide-eyed expressive faces display great emotion and work in beautiful unison with the words. I love the layering effects and the wide use of texture.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily Sammartino

    Esperanza finds a heart shaped rock and sees this as a reminder to be kind and spread love. She goes on to spread kindness and love to everyone she encounters. When she messes up at the play, she does not pay herself the same respect. I haven't read a book quite like this one. I love the message and meaning behind the book. There are many books that talk about being kind to others, but not many that talk about being kind to yourself. Often times in life we are the hardest on ourselves and it is Esperanza finds a heart shaped rock and sees this as a reminder to be kind and spread love. She goes on to spread kindness and love to everyone she encounters. When she messes up at the play, she does not pay herself the same respect. I haven't read a book quite like this one. I love the message and meaning behind the book. There are many books that talk about being kind to others, but not many that talk about being kind to yourself. Often times in life we are the hardest on ourselves and it is important remember that we too deserve kindness and compassions because just like everyone else we are not perfect, and we will make mistakes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    LaDonna

    Self-compassion is something that we should definitely teach our children from a young age. Gabri Garcia’s Listening With My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion is a great start! There is no doubt that self-compassion builds emotional resiliency. Spurred by the illustrations of Ying Hui Tan, the book speaks to the importance of spreading kindness and love, especially to yourself. It also speaks to how we all make mistakes and shows how these mistakes can make us stronger. Garcia s Self-compassion is something that we should definitely teach our children from a young age. Gabri Garcia’s Listening With My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion is a great start! There is no doubt that self-compassion builds emotional resiliency. Spurred by the illustrations of Ying Hui Tan, the book speaks to the importance of spreading kindness and love, especially to yourself. It also speaks to how we all make mistakes and shows how these mistakes can make us stronger. Garcia stresses the importance of being a friend to yourself, as well as others. Listening With My Heart would be a great addition to any home library. Check it out for yourself.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock and is inspired to share love and kindness, which comes full circle when she makes a mistake and needs help remembering to show herself kindness and compassion as well. It's a sweet story with a direct message that models simple ways even children can demonstrate compassion. A bit more plot or character development would have bumped my rating to 5 stars, but the message earns every bit of the 4 stars! I absolutely love that nearly all the characters have varyi Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock and is inspired to share love and kindness, which comes full circle when she makes a mistake and needs help remembering to show herself kindness and compassion as well. It's a sweet story with a direct message that models simple ways even children can demonstrate compassion. A bit more plot or character development would have bumped my rating to 5 stars, but the message earns every bit of the 4 stars! I absolutely love that nearly all the characters have varying shades of brown skin. It's a very positive, healing book to read with children.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor Wint

    Listening with her heart made her feel peaceful inside. That really is the theme of the book as Esperanza goes through a day doing just that. I like the intention of the book which seems to be set in Vietnam. If one is able to really look out for those times when someone is calling for help, not only the person seeking help will benefit. You also will benefit and feel peaceful inside. The illustrations are colorful, clean, good. My only problem is the font size of the book as many older people w Listening with her heart made her feel peaceful inside. That really is the theme of the book as Esperanza goes through a day doing just that. I like the intention of the book which seems to be set in Vietnam. If one is able to really look out for those times when someone is calling for help, not only the person seeking help will benefit. You also will benefit and feel peaceful inside. The illustrations are colorful, clean, good. My only problem is the font size of the book as many older people who might be reading the book for a child might be challenged.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Maldonado

    This is a good book. I love the Latina representation and the illustrations, the color choice is on point and is an interesting choice of illustration for the storyline. Esperanza does sound a little beyond her years but I think the word choice suits the storyline in the sense that this book would be good for late 2nd grade for them to read before entering third grade where they'll be struggling a lot over their own identity and self-compassion. This is a good book. I love the Latina representation and the illustrations, the color choice is on point and is an interesting choice of illustration for the storyline. Esperanza does sound a little beyond her years but I think the word choice suits the storyline in the sense that this book would be good for late 2nd grade for them to read before entering third grade where they'll be struggling a lot over their own identity and self-compassion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    Very sweet. Young Esperanza is nervous about her lines in the school play, but makes sure she has time to be kind to the motherless kitten and befriend the lonely new kid. When she trips, literally and over her lines, she is unkind to herself. She takes it as a sign that she should "be the friend she needs." Cute kids, great art, wonderful message. Recommended for at home read alouds. Author is a public school counselor and former teacher. Very sweet. Young Esperanza is nervous about her lines in the school play, but makes sure she has time to be kind to the motherless kitten and befriend the lonely new kid. When she trips, literally and over her lines, she is unkind to herself. She takes it as a sign that she should "be the friend she needs." Cute kids, great art, wonderful message. Recommended for at home read alouds. Author is a public school counselor and former teacher.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Davidson

    Esperanza is nervous about the school play. On her way to school she finds a heart-shaped stone that reminds her to do everything from her heart. She is kind to a new student who is lonely. When it is Esperanza's turn in the play she messes up, but realizes she must also be kind to herself. This is an e-book and includes tips for children on how to have compassion for oneself and the verbal exercises (positive self-talk) to do. Lovely illustrations. Esperanza is nervous about the school play. On her way to school she finds a heart-shaped stone that reminds her to do everything from her heart. She is kind to a new student who is lonely. When it is Esperanza's turn in the play she messes up, but realizes she must also be kind to herself. This is an e-book and includes tips for children on how to have compassion for oneself and the verbal exercises (positive self-talk) to do. Lovely illustrations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Carew

    The writer is right on with this book. Teaching kids that their total self-worth is not tied to their accomplishments is difficult. We can feel good about ourselves when we find a unique rock or a stray kitty that needs to be rescued. The book teaches kids just because there is one imperfect thing that happened doesn’t mean the child is imperfect. I’ve been a foster parent. I’m going to recommend this book to other foster parents.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    Be kind to yourself, not just others This book has a great message for kids. It’s easy to be kind to others, but we can often be unkind to ourselves. We must accept our failures and learn from it. There’s always tomorrow to try it again. Even as an adult, I can learn the lesson about self-compassion.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Beautiful story for children, wonderful reminder for adults ❤ As an early childhood educator who believes that positive social emotional development is key for lifelong success, I loved reading this story. I also believe this is a great reminder for adults to spread love but especially to ourselves

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara L.

    k-6 This beautiful book has an engaging story about kindness and self-compassion. In this book, Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock that later she has as a reminder of love and kindness to others and herself as well. A great book that reminds us to be kind to ourselves! :) It has vivid illustrations!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Cruz

    This book and the illustrations are so special. Writing about self-compassion is especially important in children's literature because it is in literature that they learn valuable lessons that will help them as they grow. Not only is the subject incredibly important, but the representation of a Latinx child being the main character. I love that the character learns that the same love and compassion she shows to others is the same love and kindness she should show to herself. It isn't a selfish t This book and the illustrations are so special. Writing about self-compassion is especially important in children's literature because it is in literature that they learn valuable lessons that will help them as they grow. Not only is the subject incredibly important, but the representation of a Latinx child being the main character. I love that the character learns that the same love and compassion she shows to others is the same love and kindness she should show to herself. It isn't a selfish thing to love or care for ourselves, it is important for our overall wellbeing and health. This book teaches kids that it's okay to make mistakes along the way and that we don't have to feel guilty for things that were accidents.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Parkin

    I hope every child young and old will read, hear and live this book. We all need more self-compassion. Now is the time to learn how to listen with our hearts especially this September, Suicide prevention month. I just read this book to my computer and posted it on my Facebook page. Choose to be a friend to yourself as well as to others.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol Scrimgeour

    I agree with other reviews that the message is an important one, but the story itself is unfortunately overly simplistic. I would have loved to have seen more detail in the story about how to learn self-compassion. I will still recommend it to my faculty and students, however, because of the importance of this mindset.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fallon

    Self love is good love Positive uplifting and introspective. Loved the simplicity of act that are of deeper meanings. Great for children to help understand the capacity we must have for ourselves.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    Being kind to yourself & others This is a good book for educators (teachers, assistants, counselors, social workers, and/or psychologists) to use with elementary school aged children.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandra St Martin

    Great read This was a much needed read in our home. My daughter is a great friend however can be very hard on herself. I could see her understanding the connection to her own world. I would recommend this book

  30. 4 out of 5

    chatti

    Great 👍 My 7year old and I read this book. We enjoyed this story. It helps teach children to be kind to themselves as well as others. Kids need more positive energy and that starts with loving you👍💖

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