Reading for empathy
29 children’s books to build understanding
‘Every person is a story that is nothing like the story of anyone else. By reading, you get to find out what other people think and feel.’ Sjoerd Kuyper wrote these words in his latest novel for young people, Bizar (2019). And he is absolutely right. Stepping into a story takes you into another world, where you encounter people you would otherwise never have met. They naturally evoke all kinds of feelings. Some of those emotions are familiar, so we sympathize with the characters. Others actually require us to adopt the character’s point of view and to call upon our empathy. We have to make an effort to understand and feel the thought processes and intentions and emotions of that person.
More and more research has shown that reading stimulates our imagination and empathy. It has been found that adults and children who are carried away by the stories they read and strongly sympathize with their characters also find it easy to identify with others in everyday life.
‘Reading fiction can undermine prejudices and preconceptions and help us to develop a sense of common humanity and social justice’ (De impact van het boek, Eerde Hovinga, Blue Yard, 2019) for KVB Boekwerk, the knowledge and innovation platform for the Dutch book sector).
The 29 beautiful books presented by the Dutch Foundation for Literature in this brochure, all in their own unique way, have the capacity to teach young readers to see the world through someone else’s eyes and, more importantly, to understand them.
As Sjoerd Kuyper put it,
‘Every person is a story that is nothing like the story of anyone else. By reading, you get to find out what other people think and feel.’
Children’s Books From Holland is published by the Dutch Foundation for Literature. The bulletin is distributed free of charge to foreign publishers and editors. If you would like to receive Children’s Books From Holland please contact the editorial office.