Literacy is one of my favorite escapes. Reading allows us to quickly find ourselves in a new world. It is good for our imaginations and for thinking in a different way than we do otherwise in our day to day. It is also a wonderful way to build upon and learn empathy. 

When we read, we are able to experience the story from many different characters and be transported to different places we wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience. We gain other perspectives and are able to experience different time periods, the historical past, present, or imagined futures. This is a powerful way for anyone, but especially children, to learn to empathize with others. 

The ability to empathize with others is key to building a kinder world. It allows us to make decisions that impact a larger community, can help us learn and find our own values and morals, and helps us to relate to each other in a more concrete way. It is what connects us to each other and helps us have more valuable and deeper relationships. 

4 Simple ways to introduce your children to literature (can be adapted for any age):

  1. Have books available: Studies show that just having books within reach of children is the best way to get them interested in reading.
  2. Read with your children: Bedtime routines and morning routines are great times to read with your kiddos. When reading to them, point out similarities you find that relate to their own lives.
  3. Provide different perspectives: Try to vary genres! Many people find themselves reaching for the same type of book over and over but try to mix it up. There are a million book lists out there if you have never tried science fiction or historical fiction for example. Look for characters and perspectives you might not know anything about. Go to the library and let children pick their own books too (when we can go again…)
  4. Nurture curiosity: All kids ask a million questions, the next time your child asks a good question, stop and google it. Find out with them. Help them find sources to find more information. Find a book about it. Teach them how to do their own research!

Reading is a wonderful pastime but it also can contribute to a strong foundation in empathy. I truly believe that empathy is crucial to building a kinder and more connected world and further our humanity in a more compassionate sense. At this time in our history, connection may be more important than ever.  

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” ~ Carl Sagan