Here at Peter Greer Elementary we are lucky enough to have the Roots of Empathy program (my oldest daughter was actually the first ROE baby here!) which is so wonderful for teaching kids the building blocks of understanding another person's feelings and motivations. After kindergarten, however, I believe we really need to carry on teaching empathy, as it does not necessarily come naturally to all of our students. This week then, I have chosen to focus on books that encourage empathy and understanding. Hopefully there are some new ones here for you!
The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness (Colin Thompson) - This book starts off so sad it makes your heart ache, especially knowing, as teachers do, that there are kids out there feeling this lost and lonely. But the end will leave you with a great big grin and the understanding that things can fill that empty hole in a child's heart, if only you can figure out which thing it is. This book is a great addition to a unit on empathy.
Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes) - This classic about a little mouse with a very long name teaches students the power of words, to hurt and to heal. A wonderful story, particularly if, like me, you grew up with a mouthful of a different name!
Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy (Scott Menchin) - I love this book! So many ways to use it to teach empathy, from inferring how the mother knows that Sweet Pea is unhappy, to understanding that everyone has different things that make them happy, to connecting to the list of things that Sweet Pea comes up with. Definitely a fun one for leading in to identifying things that make each student happy (I can see writing these out, illustrating them and posting them around the school for a little mid-winter boost). Just thinking about it makes me smile.
Louise Loves Art (Kelly Light) - This cute little book involves a play on words that just makes the book that much more adorable; Louise loves art, but she also loves Art, her little brother. This love is what leads to the empathy lesson, an exercise in inference that will allow you and your students to explore how we can tell how another person is feeling and what we can do to fix it. A great one to pair with Taking A Bath with the Dog.
Stand in My Shoes - Kids Learning About Empathy (Bob Sornson) - This book is more overt than the other books and would be a great way to open a unit or discussion about empathy. It follows Emily as she goes about her day, noticing how others are feeling and doing things to help them out. The end has a nice lesson about how helping others makes us feel as well. The perfect lead in to a great little activity about noticing how others are feeling.
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about literacy, collaborative teaching and finding new and innovative ways to engage & motivate all kids. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!