Monday, October 5, 2015

Building Empathy through Books

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. With campaigns like STOMP Out Bullying drawing attention to the issue on the national level, school libraries can help on the forefronts throughout the school year by not only modeling that the library is a place of acceptance, but also by helping students connect with books that raise awareness of issues that demand understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer in the power of bibliotherapy. I’m a firm believer that books help us not only find ourselves, but also allow us to understand others. Books allow us to a glimpse of life through someone else’s perspective and allow us to begin to embrace experiences beyond our own. Books help us gain respect for those who are different from us. Books build empathy.

Although there a numerous books that could make the list, listed below are some of my go-to books (some old, some new) that promote understanding and empathy:

Picture Books:

When the other kids in her class bully the new kid, Ellie takes a risk and reaches out

Although others judge her size, Molly makes a big impact.

Chloe and her friends won’t play with Maya, but after Maya quits coming to school Chloe regrets her actions.

Chapter Books:

Albie has a whole list of things he’s not good at, but with the help of his babysitter, Albie learns to take pride in himself and celebrate his successes.

When Capricorn (Cap) is forced to attend school for the first time, he realizes he is very different from his middle school classmates.

Auggie’s facial disfigurement makes attending public school for the first time even more difficult.

And my current favorite . . .

Ally hides behind her behavior until Mr. Daniels helps her discover that she’s more than the labels she’s been given.

Like many librarians, my list could go on forever, but these are my top books (for now) for building empathy amongst my students.

What books are on your list?

*Note: This blog was originally written and published (by me) via the Iowa Association of School Librarians Blog: