Reading Books by Diverse Authors Helps Readers Develop Empathy
As a school librarian, I believe in using books to teach empathy to children and teens. Reading about perspectives that are outside of our everyday lives encourages us to be curious, ask questions, and seek information about unknown worlds. I am also guided by the educational concept of “windows and mirrors,” the idea that educators need to be aware not only of who is in their classrooms but also who is in the stories they study. “Books are sometimes the only place where readers may meet people who are not like themselves, who offer alternative world views” (Tschida, Ryan and Ticknor, 2014).
When choosing books for young readers, it is essential to ask yourself whose voices are missing so that all children can see themselves in what they read. One good option is Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia Williams, featuring a young Black girl who hates 96 things about herself. Another extraordinary nonfiction book is Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (A Remix of the National Book Award Winning Stamped from the Beginning) by Ibram Kendi and Jason Reynolds. My full review is on bookclique here.