Today, I feature on the Empathy Lab’s blog tour featuring all kinds of wonderful authors sharing their thoughts on empathy and the power of using stories to teach kids empathy. The blog tour so far has been incredible with some amazing authors sharing their thoughts! Check out the blog tour for more details and go check out their posts. Today I’m hosting Margi McAllister, author of 15 Things Not To Do With Granny, which is featured in Empathy Lab’s 2018 Read for Empathy Guide.
Empathy Lab is one of the most important developments in education today. For years we’ve educated children to learn facts, to reach targets, to do things that we can measure on a chart and put on the league tables. Did anyone put a priority on educating hearts and minds? Have we assumed that the whole process of learning about yourself and how you relate to the rest of the world will happen by accident? At last we have an Empathy Day. One day isn’t enough, I know. Empathy is something children – and adults – need to be aware of every day. But here’s a day when we can celebrate it.
It’s simple. The question is – what does it feel like? How did I feel when I was ill and missed a party, when my best friend wasn’t my best friend any more, when the dog died? How did I feel when I won the race, when I made a cake all by myself, when my teacher read out my poem to the class? And if I feel like that, how do other people feel? What is it like to be them? If we want a healthy, happy society we need to know how to react to each other wisely and compassionately.
The Fifteen Things series – Fifteen Things Not To Do With A Baby/Granny/Puppy began as a light-hearted idea and turned into a warm, funny way of looking at caring. What does Granny really want? She might not be too keen on a crocodile for her birthday or squashed jelly beans on toast for breakfast. She needs a bit of time out so she can read, sleep, or practice her karate.
When I wrote The Summer Lion, I began with a community rather than a heroine. I had Granny Annie, Daffodil Thumping-Jolly, Billy Will-Do and the Snapdragon family. The village of Twidings thrives on co-operation, and fights back together against the crafty new landowner who’s only out for money and power. By the end of the book he would happily ban all lions, grannies, and children, especially Drina Snapdragon.
Something I love in a book is a ‘no, no, don’t!’ moment. One of my favourite authors is Eva Ibbotson. She writes warm, empathetic heroines that make you root for them. Time and again I find myself thinking, ‘Don’t listen to her!’ ‘Come back!’ ‘Get her away from there!’. And the heroines can’t do it all themselves. They need the friends, the allies, the community to do their bit. Empathy is never all about one person. It’s about each other.
It’s about each other. That seems like a good place to finish.
What are your favourite books for empathy?
What is Empathy Day?
Empathy Day was founded in 2017 by EmpathyLab. With hate crimes at their highest level since records began, it uses stories to help us understand each other better, and highlights empathy’s power in our divided world. (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hate-crime-statistics). Empathy Day 2018 is on 12 June.
Empathy Day’s calls to action
READ – because reading in itself can make us more empathetic
SHARE – because sharing perspectives through books can connect us in new ways
DO – put empathy into action and make a difference in your community
How to join in
- Share ideas for empathy-boosting books using #ReadForEmpathy @EmpathyLabUK
- Use the free Read For Empathy Guide to 30 children’s books – at www.empathylab.uk
- Follow this blog tour to hear the powerful voices of the authors and illustrators involved
- Hundreds of schools and libraries are already taking part. Gt a free toolkit from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use the ideas and free downloadable resources at http://www.empathylab.uk/empathy-day-resources