‘You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behaviour, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books’. Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for God’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid!’– John Waters, Role Models
Tomorrow the newly formed Empathy Lab initiates British Empathy Day- http://www.empathylab.uk. The association is supported by many authors, including Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Neil Gaiman, Cressida Cowell and Jo Cotterill http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/a-library-of-lemons/
All involved are charged with the need to share with the general public the ‘creative power of words to build empathy’, and that the ‘power of empathy can make our world a better place’. As the first anniversary of the murder of trailblazing, humanitarian activist MP, Jo Cox draws near, it is timely. We live in strange times, readers. More than once in the past 18 months, friends and family have asked, ‘How do I explain this to my children?’
Reading offers some of the answers to that question, and to society’s need to sustain a compassionate, informed society. Research proves that people who read, and read fiction, demonstrate better understanding of each other, communicate more easily, can form and maintain relationships, are kinder and more sensitive, and are generally comfortable with being ‘human’. Reading ‘allows for higher level thinking and greater creativity’- (Mar and Oatley’s comparative studies, 2006/2009).
Looking through our Bookwagon titles, I realised how many have empathic themes or substance.
I believe that while we read, we are able to trial behaviours and experiences, thus building tolerance and understanding. It is why we are so often sorely disappointed, by film adaptations, for the lives of our literary characters have been realised by us, the reader. They are not what we experienced when we read.
This is why I am so keen that our books offer our readers opportunities to tread worlds of chaos, curiosity, complexity, confusion, but ultimately, certainty, that they may establish this ‘creative power of words to build empathy’ through their reading.
Some recommended titles from the Bookwagon bookshop, that focus on building empathy, amongst their themes, include:-
- Noah Barleywater Runs Away- John Boyne http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/noah-barleywater-runs-away/
- The Silver Donkey- Sonya Hartnett http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-silver-donkey/
- Heartsong- Kevin Crossley- Holland and Jane Ray http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/heartsong/
- A Room Full of Chocolate- Jane Ellson http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/room-full-chocolate/
- The Unforgotten Coat- Frank Cottrell- Boyce- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-unforgotten-coat/
- Pax- Sara Pennypacker http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/pax/
- The One and Only Ivan- Katherine Applegate- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-one-and-only-ivan/
- Because of Winn- Dixie- Kate Di Camillo- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/because-of-winn-dixie/
- The Smell of Other People’s Houses- Bonnie- Sue Hitchcock- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/smell-peoples-houses/
- Wolf Hollow- Lauren Wolk- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/wolf-hollow/
- Extra Yarn- Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/extra-yarn/
- This is How We Do It- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/this-is-how-we-do-it/
- The Heart and the Bottle- Oliver Jeffers- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-heart-and-the-bottle/
- Last Stop on Market Street- Matt De La Pena- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/last-stop-market-street/
- The Breadwinner- Deborah Ellis- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-breadwinner/
- The Pond- Nicola Davies- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-pond/
- Bigfoot, Tobin and Me- Melissa Savage- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/bigfoot-tobin-me/
- When I am Happiest- Rose Lagencrantz- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/when-i-am-happiest/
- The Night Gardener- Eric and Terry Fan- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-night-gardener/
- The Lost Kitten- Lee Kamiko Sakai- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-lost-kitten/, and,
- Can I Come Too?- Brian Patten- http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/can-i-come/