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Teaching themes of empathy through children's literature

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  1. psychological definition for empathy.
  2. Stories and eliciting emotional responses.
  3. General reading and reading stories with empathetic characters.
    1. Tom's Midnight Garden.
    2. The Secret Garden.
    3. Then There Were Five.
  4. Conclusion.

As Christians we are called to treat all individuals with understanding and compassion, extending to them the same unmerited favor that God has extended to those who follow Him. But how do we extend a sense of understanding to those whose personalities and experiences are quite different from our own? The answer lies in developing a sense of empathy for those around us.The field of psychology provides many definitions for empathy. In an article discussing empathy as presented through children's literature, psychologist Feshback defines it ?[sharing] an emotional response with another as well as the ability to discriminate the other's perspective and role? (qtd. in Cress 594). The same article cites another definition provided by Einsberg and Strayer: ?an emotional response that stems from another's emotional state or condition and is congruent with the other's emotional state or situation? (qtd. in Cress 594).

[...] He is sick and deserves attention attention his father has not given him and will also be the master of the manor when his father dies if he himself lives through his childhood, which no one expects to happen. Colin reacts to the fearful beliefs of others and adopts the victimized role that most of the other characters place on him, which is especially highlighted in the scene when Mary stands up to Colin's selfish and jealous nature, becoming the first person in his life to not give into him. [...]

[...] The Melendy quartet of Then There Were Five present empathy in the form of reaching out to the less fortunate among us. The four children have been raised in a loving and supportive home environment; although their father is often absent for great lengths of time, it is obvious that he deeply loves his children when he is able to be home with them. The Melendy children have been raised to be self-sufficient in a trusting and supportive family environment. [...]

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