Reading and storytelling are wonderfully effective empathy-building activities; through protagonists we enter other worlds and experience trials and tribulations that can differ greatly to our own. Whether empathy is explored directly as a theme or evoked through another perspective, our inner lives and capacity for understanding are enriched each and every time we pick up a book. To fully process and integrate the lessons and experiences we encounter, we can retell and discuss what we have read. There are many ways to provide opportunities for our kids to do this; from dinnertime chats about what they’re reading, to setting up or joining a kid’s book club.
It can be hard to find books as diverse as the classrooms of today’s Ireland. Having a chat about the reasons for and effects of this lack of representation is also a good way to explore the topic. Anti-bullying week is a fantastic opportunity to pause and ensure we are providing our children with access to different voices and experiences, helping them to develop empathy and an interest in all groups in society.
Below are suggestions for books which we’d recommend for the different age-groups from young children to teens. Click on the image to open a pdf version which you can print out or share.
Vita Coleman is a Library Assistant with DLR Libraries