#ReadForEmpathy by Corrinne Averiss

It’s my stop on the #ReadForEmpathy Blog Tour, and it’s my pleasure to welcome Corrinne Averiss, author of Joy, to discuss why empathy is such an important life skill, and how we can help foster it’s development in our children.

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The promotion of empathy has been a huge driver for me over the last few years – both in my stories and creative work for children’s television, so it’s a pleasure to congratulate Empathy Lab for all their important work leading up to Empathy Day and such a privilege to see Joy featured among the titles.

Stories are the means by which we shift our perspective and view the world through the eyes of another being; the more we read and listen, the more we open ourselves up to those insights; to what it is to be human. And as we flex that empathy muscle, we allow kindness and compassion to inform our behaviour towards others. It’s a fundamental skill in a healthy, supportive society.

I urge everyone to share a #ReadForEmpathy book recommendation today. I’d personally like to recommend a beautiful picture book called Leon and Bob from Simon James. It’s a wonderful psychological study of a little boy summoning the courage to make a friend and opens up lots of themes for discussion.

It’s also important to remember that encouraging empathy with children can start in the smallest of ways, with a simple curious enquiry – how does it feel to be an ant, a giraffe, a baby, a bird… can we imagine how it feels; can we describe that to one another to paint the picture. Discussing emotions like this paves the way to discuss our own too and form an open and honest relationship. How does it feel to be Nanna, wonders Fern in Joy, and more importantly, she feels confident sharing that concern with her mum.

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Fern goes on to privately examine what it means to feel joy – following her instinctive desire to bring as much of it back to her Nanna as she can carry. In this exploration, her emotional awareness grows and as a writer, it’s such a delightful challenge to focus on a feeling in this detail. I can’t wait to share the next book in this collection from Quarto entitled Hope and publishing in August, illustrated by Sebastien Pelon.

Joy by Corrinne Averiss, illustrated by Isabelle Follath

Fern’s Nanna has not been herself of late. And when Mum remarks that all the joy seems to have gone out of her life, Fern decides to fetch the joy back. With her catching-kit at the ready, she goes to the park and finds joy in all sorts of unusual places. Whooooshh! But Fern soon realises that joy doesn’t fit in a bag, or a box or a tin! How will she manage to bring some back to Nanna?

Emotional, funny and uplifting, this beautiful picture book has a strong message about empathy and maintaining loving relationships with our grandparents. Guaranteed to bring a bit of joy into every reader’s life, this story is a pure delight.

You can buy Joy at your local independent book shop for £6.99, or online: https://amzn.to/2JFfeJX

You can find out more about Corrinne by following her @CorrinneAveriss (Twitter and Instagram), and at her website, www.corrinneaveriss.co.uk

What is Empathy Day?

Empathy Day focuses on using books – and talking about them – to shine a light on the ‘superpower’ of empathy.  As well as running Elmer the Elephant empathy-themed events for young children, 98 participating library services will be trialling intergenerational meet-ups. The Empathy Conversation will bring different community groups together to connect and talk at a deeper level, using prompts written by children from one of EmpathyLab’s pioneer primary schools. Schools nationwide are hosting author visits, Empathy Awards and more. Publishers are launching bespoke initiatives for their channels and networks to amplify the message of the Day and everyone is encouraged to join in a mass crowd-sharing of empathy book recommendations through a social media #ReadForEmpathy campaign.

Empathy Day’s calls to action:

READ – because stories and book characters build our real-life empathy
CONNECT – make new connections with people, inspired by sharing stories
DO – put empathy into action and make a difference in your home and your community  

How to join in… 

Get new ideas for empathy-boosting books, and share your own, by joining in the massive social media #ReadForEmpathy campaign

  • Use EmpathyLab’s Read For Empathy Guides for young people – 45 amazing books for 4-16 year olds –http://www.empathylab.uk/readfor-empathy-guide
  • Snap up tickets for The Empathy Conversation evening event with former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, poet Joseph Coelho and psychology expert Professor Robin Banerjee, Waterstone’s Piccadilly, 7pm – Waterstones Piccadilly Empathy Conversation ticket link
  • Follow the blog tour of  some of the authors and illustrators involved; listen to their podcasts http://www.empathylab.uk/newspage.
  • View the online Empathy Illustration Gallery: illustrators from Chris Riddell to Emily Gravett interpret what Read for Empathy means  
  • Use #EmpathyDay to share which social issues need more empathy, and Make an Empathy Resolution – special cards available from www.empathylab.uk
  • Check out your library’s empathy books and activities.
  • Make a giant workplace Empathy Wall – share ideas for changing things
  •  Buy empathy books from local independent booksellers, and EmpathyLab’s whole empathy book collection for 26% off: www.peters.co.uk/empathy2019

Librarians and teachers

  • Librarians: sign up and get your Empathy Day toolkit – email info@empathylab.uk; pilot
    Empathy Conversation events
  • Teachers: sign up; use our training, booklists, major Empathy Day resources bank at www.empathylab.uk.
  • Watch ‘The Story Maker’s Show’, a special empathy-themed show from Puffin featuring a draw-along with illustrator Sophy Henn and an all-star line-up of authors including Malorie Blackman, Jacqueline Wilson, Sam Copeland and Eoin Colfer. The show premieres at 9am on Tuesday 11 June 2019. More information at www.puffinschools.co.uk/shows/  
 

Huge thanks to Corrinne for such a thought provoking post, and to EmpathyLab for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the stops.

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