Empathy Day on 13 June 2017 is a platform to emphasise the importance of empathy in our divided world, and raise awareness of the power of stories to develop it.
A new Read for Empathy guide for adults living and working with children aged 4-11 will be published on 13 June. It features 21 “must-reads” endorsed by The Sunday Times’ children’s book reviewer Nicolette Jones and is available free from www.empathylab.uk.
The Day is being launched by EmpathyLab, a new organisation with a mission to use stories to help us understand each other better, led by Miranda McKearney OBE, founder of The Reading Agency.
Miranda McKearney OBE, Founder: “We’re establishing an Empathy Day to shine a bright light on the importance of empathy in our divided world – new approaches to building this core life skill are badly needed .
Helping children learn about empathy through books lays strong foundations for resisting prejudice and intolerance. Neuroscience research shows that the emotions we feel for characters wires our brains to have the same sort of sensitivity towards real people. Our Read for Empathy guide for 4-11 year olds has great new book ideas, and we’re delighted to enjoy the support of high profile authors and illustrators including Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell, Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell.
Our understanding of the complex mechanisms underpinning empathy is changing all the time, and psychologists, neuroscientists, sociologists and philosophers have different interpretations. Most agree on three elements: emotional/affective empathy where we literally resonate with someone else’s feelings; cognitive empathy or perspective-taking where we apply reason to working out how someone else feels and empathic concern, which is a powerful motivator for helping others, a force for social change.
Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Sussex: “Empathy is a pivotal factor in children’s wellbeing – my research identifies its relevance to behaviour, mental health, and achievement at school. Work to support it is relevant to all children, but especially those who are vulnerable. EmpathyLab’s strategy of focusing on the literacy domain as a context for supporting its development is particularly powerful and resonates with the findings from cutting-edge psychological research. I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction to the Day.”
The children at Netley Marsh have been busy visiting the library at Totton to find books which help them understand empathy. Today they will be voting for the best at our Empathy Awards celebration!