I’m going to be inThe New Forest on Empathy Day, this 12th of June. So will Sue Hendra, author of the wonderful Supertato, that I have enjoyed reading with children before. We will be at Netley Marsh CE Infant School, talking about and encouraging the skill of empathy with the children there, using ur books, stories and drawing.
Empathy day has been championed by Empathy Lab who have been researching the effect that reading has on empathy. A book is like no other medium. Movies and TV show you. We watch as observers. Empathy is about getting inside another person and seeing the world through their eyes. Nothing does this quite as well as a book.
We create the pictures inside our heads as we read, slowly filling the shoes of the characters and viewing the world through their eyes. This is a deep, sustained form of empathy lat lets us experience this world, and others – from the point of view of people, animals creatures and inanimate objects we might never encounter in real life.
Building the skills of empathy allow us to see the world through the eyes of our nearest and dearest, our neighbours and our foes. This understanding is the base point of sympathy, compassion and, most importantly, understanding, which is the root of peaceful negotiation and agreement.
On Empathy Day itself, I’ll be blogging about a book – a diary – that made a terrific impression on me, allowing me to see beautifully drawn Victorian characters in an awful situation as real human beings. I’ve always thought of the Victorians as stuffy, stupid or cruel. Reading the book allowed me see and feel the humanity and share the trials and tribulations of the people involved.
So, I’ll be thinking a lot about empathy over the next couple of weeks and may well come back to the subject. If you could look outing through someone else’s eyes, who would that person be and why?