Review

“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

One novel at a time

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The other day someone asked me, “Why do you write for children? It’s a tough market to break into.”

“I’m so glad you asked,” I replied. “Aside from just a love of telling stories, there are some hard reasons why I think it’s so important to write for children. Here is just one.

It seems the qualities that reflect the best in our species have been under attack for some time now. Polarization is growing, as are divisiveness and demonizing those who differ from us in any way—ethnically, culturally, or politically.

Reading novels and stories builds empathy and helps to reduce divisiveness. When a child (or any of us) is reading a novel or story, they are immersing themselves in what it’s like to be in another person’s head. They’re experiencing the character’s experiences in deep and complex ways. Ways that current virtual reality can’t come close to replicating.

When a child is reading a novel or story, they are drawn into imagining the character’s motivations, their goals. This develops the same way of thinking that helps them to understand the people surrounding them in the real world:

  • It helps them to realize and understand that people from other cultures and ethnic groups have feelings, abilities, and desires, just like them.

  • They can come to understand that surface behaviours, particularly undesirable ones, may be driven by deeper underlying causes and shouldn’t necessarily be taken personally.

Discussing books and stories offers parents and children a way to discuss topics and feelings that might not be comfortable or come naturally otherwise.

Empathy and compassion are closely related, and both are increasingly precious in our turbulent and divisive world. Reading books and stories is one of the best ways to help our children develop both.”

Let’s help our children build their empathy muscles, one book at a time.


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