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  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

Empathy Read Aloud

Updated: May 16, 2020

After the success of our #KindnessCrewCRSS Read Aloud in February, I’m moved to facilitate another Twitter Read Aloud, this time with a focus on Empathy.

The idea for the Kindness Read Aloud was inspired by #MindsetMonday Read Aloud by Annick Rauch and Nycol Dydcote, two fantastic educators from Winnipeg, Canada, as well as #PassionforKindness by Tamara Letter, an amazing educator from Virginia, USA. I loved the wonderful things they were both doing, and wanted to incorporate their valuable ideas into experiences I was providing my students, and as a result, the #KindnessCrewCRSS Read Aloud was born!

Now we have decided to explore Empathy, and for four weeks during October and November, I invite you and your students to join in our first #KindnessCrewCRSS #SparkEmpatyRA Empathy Read Aloud. A book with a theme of empathy and diversity will be introduced by the hosting class each week for four weeks. You and your students will engage in learning about empathy and diversity, through meaningful questioning, conversation and reflection You will also be able to connect and share your learning with classrooms globally through Twitter slow chats if you choose.

The Value of Empathy

Empathy (noun): the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy is one of the five elements of emotional intelligence and is one of the most important social skills a child, or anyone, can learn. The ability to recognise how people feel is important to success in your life. But even more importantly, empathy is a necessary skill to have in order to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

The benefits of teaching empathy in the classroom include building positive classroom culture and strengthening the community. Students learn to understand one another and build friendships based on trust.

To help our students develop the skill of empathy we can:

  • Model empathy

  • Listen actively

  • Teach empathy explicitly

Two of the most useful strategies to explicitly teach empathy are through literature and real life empathy opportunities. And that’s why the #KindnessCrewCRSS #SparkEmpathyRA was born.

Teaching Empathy Through Literature

Characters and conflicts in books can expose children to a range of social situations that children may or may not have experienced themselves. By exposing children to these resources, teachers can prompt and guide discussions related to characters’ emotions, as well as children’s personal feelings about characters or conflicts in the story. These discussions, as well as strategic questioning on the part of the teacher, will allow students to engage in empathy practices. #KindnessCrewCRSS #SparkEmpathyRA will help you and your students explore different children’s literature focusing on empathy and diversity, helping them to empathise with others and the positive impact that being empathetic can have on those we interact with, as well as ourselves.

What you can expect?

Each week, you and your students will be invited to watch a prerecorded video of a book with a theme of empathy and diversity being read by the hosting class. Throughout the book, the hosting students will invite you to answer questions based on the book and your experiences. You can share your learning using the Q1 A1 format on Twitter. Don’t forget to include the #KindnessCrewCRSS and #SparkEmpathyRA hashtags in your answers. If a certain book inspires you further, feel free to share your extended activities through art, poetry, blogs, #BookSnaps, video reflections, etc. to the hashtag. Please note that you can view the video and participate in the slow Twitter chat as it fits into your schedule that week! Watch for new blog posts coming out every Sunday that will include all of the info you need for the week, including what class is hosting, what book they will be reading, the video link, and the Slow Twitter Chat questions.

Week 1: Stolen Girl by Trina Saffioti, hosted by Emily Bray

Week 2: Beyond Us by Aaron L Polansky, hosted by Alicia Ray

Another benefit of empathy is that it's the birthplace of innovation. Through intentionally cultivating the conditions where we can model and nurture empathy, we are helping our students learn one of life’s most defining and important human qualities. People with empathy are understanding, kind, caring, compassionate, courageous, successful, have meaningful relationships, are problem solvers, and are happier. Empathy is what drives us to challenge the status quo and make the world better!

We hope you will join us!


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