How Books Teach Empathy

When we think about the purposes of writing, there are generally three categories: we write to inform, to entertain, and to persuade. As readers, we are the recipients of information, entertainment, and persuasion.

Stories have been a part of human history forever. Early humans told stories to explain a world that was confusing to them (inform). They told stories as warnings for things to watch out for (persuade), and they told stories to have fun (entertain). Even though many things have changed in our modern world, stories still serve these purposes.

Whether we are reading to learn, to see another side of things, or to just have fun, reading is a safe way to put ourselves in other people’s shoes (or in their thoughts or within their experiences). Reading allows us to get as close as we are able to understanding topics from someone else’s perspective. Reading allows us to experience empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

If a child reads a book about someone very different from her, she is immersed in a world that is foreign, but it always remains safe. She has agency and can take herself out of the book if she feels threatened or uncomfortable or even bored. She can give herself time to process something new if she needs it. Reading is the easiest and least dangerous way to explore this big, topsy-turvy world.

Reading a book about someone very different from her also gives her insights into the ways in which she and that character are the same. Maybe they are the same age or have similar family structures. Maybe they share a similar problem. Finding similarities means that the “stranger” in a book who at first seems completely different is really not so different after all.

Think about the books you’ve read that have opened your eyes to other people’s experiences. How did you become more empathetic towards those situations? If we are lucky, we grow and our lives are changed for the better.

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
Thank you for visiting our site. For a free copy of my very first book, please fill out this form.

Pin It on Pinterest