Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reading for Empathy

Sheffield Libraries are currently taking part in the Empathy Project, working in partnership with local schools and Empathy Lab. In the run-up to Empathy Day on 12th June, young people from the Firth Park and Darnall areas have been working with celebrated author Sita Brahmachari on an inter-generational project entitled ‘Hands of Friendship’.
Empathy Day was founded in 2017 to raise awareness of the importance of empathy. Empathy is a core life skill, and research suggests that reading is an effective way to develop empathy. The project aims to engage local children and their families in identifying issues of concern to their local communities. 

Firth Park and Darnall libraries both currently have an Empathy Wall on display, on which children, families and the wider community have contributed their thoughts on issues in the local community where more empathy and understanding would help. (Do pop in and have a look if you are in the area!) At both libraries, the key issue identified was communication between the younger and older residents within the community. 

At an ‘Empathy CafĂ©’ on 12th May, Sita worked with younger and older people in Firth Park and Darnall to share stories and experiences in order to develop and explore empathy. Among these stories were two young girls with beautiful hair who were inspired to cut it to give to children with cancer, and one boy who wanted to make a pledge that boys and girls should be equal in all things. The children wrote a recipe for an ‘Empathy Cake’ (pictured) and the stories will be shared with the wider community at Empathy Day on 12th June

The project is funded through the Engaging Libraries programme, a partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Carnegie UK Trust that has funded 14 library projects across the UK.

You can get involved in the project by reading one of our recommended empathy-boosting books for children and young people and tweeting about it on the #ReadforEmpathy hashtag! All of the books below are available to borrow from Sheffield Libraries.

Picture books
  • Paws Off My Book! by Fabi Santiago
  • There’s a Bear on my Chair by Ross Collins
  • We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio
  • The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith
  • Something Else by Kathryn Cave
  • The Journey by Francesca Sanna
  • Footpath Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
  • My Name is Bob by James Bowen & Garry Jenkins, illustrated by Gerald Kelley
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
  • Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  • Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Karen George

Books for junior school children
  • Worry Angels - Sita Brahmachari
  • The Boy in the Dress - David Walliams
  • Wonder - R. J. Palacio
  • Red Sky in the Morning - Elizabeth Laird 
  • The Unforgotten Coat - Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • The Secrets of Sam and Sam - Susie Day
  • George - Alex Gino
  • Coming to England - Floella Benjamin
  • Old Dog, New Tricks - Bali Rai

Young Adult novels
  • Artichoke Hearts - Sita Brahmachari
  • The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
  • A Change is Gonna Come - various authors (anthology)
  • Here I Stand - Amnesty International (anthology)
  • The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
  • If I Was Your Girl - Meredith Russo
  • The Noughts and Crosses series - Malorie Blackman
  • Brace Mouth, False Teeth - Sita Brahmachari
  • The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon
  • Tender Earth - Sita Brahmachari
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves - Robin Talley
  • The State of Grace – Rachael Lucas
  • Am I Normal Yet? - Holly Bourne
  • Red Leaves - Sita Brahmachari
  • Kiss the Dust - Elizabeth Laird
  • Zebra Crossing Soul Song - Sita Brahmachari

For more reading ideas, see the official EmpathyLab book collection here (PDF document) and some more choices from our very own Book Monster Ally in this blog post.