Read a Book – it Fosters Empathy!

On National Read a Book Day, we step into characters’ shoes and feel their emotions – joy, pain, loss, embarrassment, betrayal, grief, wonder, success, defeat, and so much more. What better way to develop empathy (page 28, Dictionary for a Better World) than by reading a book, learning lessons we don’t have to learn the hard way – or couldn’t learn as easily because we didn’t live that part of history?

I’m reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, and the empathy I feel for Elsa Wolcott runs deep – I sense that she is much like a Cinderella character with two very attractive sisters, a young woman who feels like the Ugly Duckling because even her own parents have written her off. It’s a page-turner for me – – I can’t wait to see what happens next!

As those around us continue relentlessly to challenge books and ban the precious words and valuable experiences of others, I pray we have an awakening across our great nation of the roles that characters play for our children through books, in showing and shaping and shielding and sharing life’s lessons. The truth is that stories and books do have the power to change us – for the better. I regret that so many are on a book witch-hunt, raising issues about lines taken out of context before reading the book for its overall message. I hope that in the coming days, all of this turmoil leads us to a new place of embracing the books that may be the only friends that some children have.

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*During the months of August and September on days when I’m not participating in the Open Write at, I will be writing in response to the pages of Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The poems, poetic forms, narratives, quotes, and calls to action to make one small difference might be just the medicine my world – or the whole world – needs. I’ll be inviting insights in the form of an immersion into a 10-minute-a-day book study (just long enough to read the page, reflect, and connect). If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can order one here on Amazon. I invite you to join me in making August and September a time of deep personal book friendship. A few teachers will be following the blog and engaging in classroom readings and responses to the text. So come along! Let’s turn the pages into intentionally crafting beautiful change together.

9 Replies to “Read a Book – it Fosters Empathy!”

  1. Watching the book banning is shocking to me. Up in Bonners Ferry, Idaho a bunch of crazies have toted guns to library board meetings to protest books the library doesn’t have in their collection. That’s in the pan handle up by Ruby Ridge.

    I haven’t read The Four Winds but know it’s immensely popular. I’ll need to add it to the bulging TBR. This week I’m finishing The Mere Wife, a retelling of Beowulf. It’s very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have already said how much I love this book, and that you are using it as a study…wonderful! I just pulled my copy off the shelf to review “empathy” and found this lovely quote from Katherine Erskine’s Mockingbird. “Even though I didn’t think I’d like empathy it kind of creeps up on you and makes you feel all warm and glowy inside. I don’t think I’d want to go back to life without empathy.” Truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never has book banning ended well or in the best interests of those who most need empathy. May those who fear what words can do soon realize the frightening society we would live in without the empathy built by books…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I often tell my students that I hated reading when I was their age. I found it tedious and inconvenient. I asked my teachers why it was necessary. If only they had seen the limitation in my choice of words. I didn’t mean “necessary;” I meant “relevant.” If only I had read this post in grade 8…

    I so enjoy your insights.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kim, yes to “empathy” through books. I just read Chris Margocs post and she talked about lessons she’s always learning. I was struck by this one:
    “When a story in a book
    has a lesson that’s different than
    what I learned in school”

    It is so important for people to learn empathy and humility through these vicarious experiences of walking in another’s shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I think we need a nationwide social media flood of “Ten Lessons I Learned in Books that I Didn’t Have to Learn the Hard Way….” Maybe that would help turn the banning tide. It’s a scary world we live in when people attempt to erase the lives and stories of others, isn’t it?


  5. Kim, I love the work you are doing with Dictionary FaBW- I’ve been reading many posts centered on empathy, compassion, unity, healing…when hearts are transformed, worlds are transformed. We must be about the building up and rebuilding and appreciating what we have while we have it. Perhaps this is why I return to reading fantasy series so often… thank you always for being a luminous guide on the journey, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Fran! I am enjoying the journey through the words and growing in my exploration of each through one word per day. I’m glad you are reading some of the posts – I love a book study so much, and I need a lot of personal practice in so many of these words.

      Liked by 1 person

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