Empathy Day

I'm delighted to be one of the many authors supporting Empathy Day on June 13th

What is Empathy Day?
Empathy Day is a platform to emphasise  the importance of empathy in our divided world and raise awareness of the power of stories to develop  it.

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. 

On June 13th schools all over the country will be focussing on empathy and stories. Many will be having special assemblies.  Some will be giving out empathy awards or inviting in authors to talk about and read stories.

I'll be headung off to the lovely Spinney Primary School in Cambridge to join in their activities. I can't wait!

What is Empathy?

I was lucky enough to attend the EmpathyLab training day for authors in April and found out about all the great work that they have been doing.

Here are six important things I learned about empathy.

1. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In other words, it's being able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes.

I'd love to put myself in these fantastic lego shoes!
2. It's more than a feeling. As well as an emotional response to other people, empathy involves understanding and thinking about why other people feel or act as they do. It also involves social action; doing something about it.

3. Books build empathy. Stories are a great way for us to build empathy by seeing the world through a character's eyes, and understanding their thoughts and feelings. Books also allow us to explore places and situations outside our our own experience. It's not just stories (fiction). Biographies and non-fiction can have this effect too.

4. Neuroscience research shows that identifying with book characters’ emotions makes us more empathetic.

5. It works. Pilot work in ten schools has shown how harnessing the power of reading and empathy has a powerful impact on:
• Children’s empathy skills and wellbeing
• Literacy
• Family involvement
• Social action
• School ethos and strategy

Of course, empathy isn't just for Empathy Day! It's something I'll be thinking about in my writing and discussing with children on school visits every day of the year.

As writers, empathy is our natural habitat.
Author, Bali Rai.