Reading and empathy… the two may not sound related at first but when you dig a little deeper they have a strong connection. Reading, and especially the reading of literary fiction, has been studied and proven to strengthen an individual’s empathy towards others. How does this happen, and what can we learn from it to apply in our own lives?
Helping kids understand empathy is an important task no matter what the child\’s\’ age is. Empathy helps kids understand and identify with the emotions of others and studies have shown that books are a critical part of helping young ones absorb the message and the concept.
Becoming absorbed in a book and then in a particular character’s role builds the reader\’s sense of empathy, and helps them to understand the situation from their viewpoint. Reading gives us a unique viewpoint, often from right inside the character’s mind. This helps us to see the world through eyes other than our own.
Here are some other ways reading builds empathy and some books and resources that will help as well.
Reading Teaches Empathy while Improving Social Perception
Social perception is the study of how individuals form their impressions of other people and make inferences about them. Part of this is reading body language. Amazingly, when you are subjected to the reading of literary fiction, your social perception grows, along with the ability to understand others to a deeper extent.
Social perception includes being able to read a person’s emotions in context. Reading improves this aspect by giving an explanation of a character’s actions and intent. Often, some of the things that go unsaid in our own lives are laid bare in a book. This can be of great benefit to all people, especially those who have trouble understanding the social cues of others.
Another important aspect of social perception is the fact that most good books make a lot of inferences. Rather than always stating the obvious, they give only enough to leave you wondering and force you to decide the obvious for yourself. This gives you practice in being able to translate the tiny details of what you see into the truth of what you understand.
Reading Teaches Empathy and Heightens Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, known as EQ, is now widely spoken of. It is not enough to be well educated if you lack the ability to communicate and share your knowledge with others. It is said that EQ may be even more important than IQ. As Plato once said, “All learning has an emotional base.” If you wish to communicate effectively, you must understand your own emotions and the emotions of others.
Emotional intelligence includes perceiving, reasoning with, understanding and managing emotions. If you leave out any one of these, your EQ will be lacking. Reading helps each of these areas to grow through identifying with characters and cheering for a positive outcome for them. The emotion invested in a good book and the people in it will take you far in your ability to care and connect with other humans.
Reading, especially reading good literary fiction, gives you more than just a few moments of relaxation.
Reading exercises many parts of your brain and makes you a more complete individual. If you are hoping to grow in your empathy, grab a good book, sit down and read.
Reading Teaches Empathy- Books we Recommend
Read an E-Book Week works to educate and inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide join in the effort to spread the love of e-books with families everywhere. Read more about the history of this event and the history of e-books HERE.
2 Kids\’ ebooks about bullying, empathy and forgiveness
Reading Teaches Empathy- A FREE Classroom Empathy Kit for Teachers!
Sign upHERE to get your FREE Downloadable Empathy Classroom Kit containing:
~ Book List – 18 books on Understanding Immigration and Refugees
~ Classroom Empathy Activities
~ Empathy Poster – printable
~ Multicultural Children\’s Book Day Poster
~ Multicultural Children\’s Book Day eBook
Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators is a “Best Of” list of diversity books lists for children.
ONE MORE THING
As parents, we want/need quality books with extension activities to help our young ones unplug and create memories. Pulling books from shelves, and stories from pages is also an important act that will the habit of being life-long readers. Quality books with companion book extension activities are not only working to create special family time, it allows kids to solve the world’s problems without major consequences. A Year in the Secret Garden is just such a book.
This delightful children’s book that is co-written by Marilyn Scott-Waters and Valarie Budyar and it offers original month-by-month activities that allow readers to delve deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden.
Within the 120 pages (with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities)families will find many activities inspired by The Secret Garden that encourages them to step away from technology and enjoy getting hands and feet into the black earth of a family garden. This book will make a great gift and be the catalyst of many hours of family growth, learning and FUN!
Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!