Building Emotional Literacy and Empathy in the library

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I’ve been reading Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in our All-About-Me World, and it has me feeling so inspired and engaged.

In one chapter, author Dr. Michele Borna discusses how making caring a part of a child’s identity (“You are a child who cares!”) and creating a family motto (“The FitzHenrys are kind and generous.”) can have a big impact on developing kids. So this year, I’m giving them both a try.

At the top of the photo above, on the pink sentence strip, you’ll find the motto we’ll be trying on for size: “In our library, we care about people.” This caring is at the core of everything we do: the books we read, questions we ask, activities we participate in, and more. And I hope that if we say it enough, it will sink in and become something that my readers carry with them wherever they go.

The social emotional “Life Tools” toolkit beneath it is a work in progress in our Lower School, inspired by social emotional research and programs. It includes things like the “Perspective Tool: I care for others and consider their perspective“, “Apology-Forgiveness Tool: I can apologize, forgive, and move on“, “Make a Plan Tool: We can make a plan that works for BOTH of us”, and more. I can’t wait to try it out in combination with empathy-building literary fiction to help my readers strengthen their emotional literacy. We’re hoping that the tools can empower kids to take control and work to understand their feelings, as well as their role in conflict and resolution. We have a copy in our take a break spot, too.

I’m excited to see if putting caring at the forefront of my teaching makes a difference for students.

What do you do in your classroom to build empathy and emotional literacy?

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