Building Empathy

As the mother of two boys, I feel it is my duty to raise aware, conscientious, kind and sensitive young men, who go out into the world and treat girls and women with dignity and respect.  We know that reading builds empathy, so it is essential that we read books, such as the ones listed here, to both our girls and our boys to educate them about how to be gentle, kind, respectful, confident human beings that treat one another well in the world.  When we read about, watch, and listen to such topics in our home we also have conversations about what it means to be an upstanding community member. We discuss what it looks like to treat girls and all people with respect and kindness.  – Angie

YA Books

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi shows the difference between once prince and princess living in neighboring kingdoms. Gauri, a princess of Bharata, is a capable action heroine who isn’t interested in feelings.  In the other domain, Prince Vikram is introspective, supportive and romantic and willing to wait for Gauri to decide what she wants.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is book one of New York Times bestselling trilogy.   Fantasy genre, set in a Hispanic-style kingdom where the heroine, Elisa,  is dealing with low worth and negative body perception. She is married off to a king later to find a soldier; though he does not wholly surface until the second book.  This soldier is happy to look to her as his ruler.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall, Jimmy goes on a trip with his grandfather and learns about his Lakota heritage and famed Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was a great warrior, but also caring and compassionate, showing that a strong man does not have to be divorced from gentleness.

Picture Books

The Carrot Seed
by Ruth Krauss

Daddy’s Lullaby
by Tony Bradman

How to Lose All Your Friends
by Nancy Carlson

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
by Judith Viorst

Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley shares that even ninjas, knights, and strong men shed tears and feel pain.

The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty is a read-aloud favorite of some, about a mouse-knight who learns to fight his battles with a story instead of violence.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a favorite of mine.  He takes the classic princess features and turns them upside down to deliver a confident, strong, smart, princess who saves an ungrateful prince in the process.  This book is a fantastic read-aloud story.

Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker celebrates girls being fearless, silly, wild, stubborn, and proud through 175 photographs.  It encourages girls to be 100% themselves.

Little Dreamers:  Visionary Women Around the World also by Vashti Harrison features true stories of forty female creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists, educates and inspires young girls.

What is the Women’s Rights Movement?  This book covers Girl Power from the 1960’s which pushed women’s rights to the women’s march that took place all across the US in 2017

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is about how one gentle bull loved to sit and smell the flowers.