Inspiring true stories encourage empathy

Appeal Democrat   
February 17th, 2011

Going Someplace Special

By Kendal A. Rautzhan

Empathy is largely a learned attribute. Our personal experiences are probably the most formative part in the development of empathy — the kindness, loving care and support we receive at home, school and through friendships.

We can also learn a lot of empathetic behaviors from reading books that describe good deeds as well as stories that describe what it’s like to be the victim of cruel, unjust behavior.

Today’s reviewed books reflect these kinds of stories. Anything we can do to expose children to books (and our own good example) that help develop empathy is both sorely needed and time well spent.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“Goin’ Someplace Special” by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Atheneum, 36 pages

Read aloud: age 4 — 5 and older

Read yourself: age 8 and older

In a 1950s Southern town, an African-American girl, Tricia Ann, lives with her grandmother, Mama Frances. One day, Tricia Ann wants to go to Someplace Special by herself. Her grandmother hesitates, but finally relents, telling Tricia Ann, “And no matter what, hold your head up and act like you belong to somebody.”

On her journey, Tricia Ann encounters stinging signs of prejudice everywhere. Then, in front of a beautiful hotel, she is swept up in a crowd of people who are there to see a famous celebrity. Suddenly, Tricia Ann is inside the hotel, and it is quickly and loudly made clear she wasn’t allowed to be there.

Cast out of the hotel, Tricia Ann heads for the sanctuary of the Mission Church ruins. There, she meets the kind and gentle Blooming Mary, who listens to Tricia Ann’s story and encourages her hear her granny’s words. As Tricia Ann listened, she heard her grandmother’s steady voice telling her, “You are somebody, a human being — no better, no worse than anybody else in this world … don’t study on quittin’, just keep walking straight ahead — and you’ll make it.”

And that’s just what Tricia Ann did. Finally, Tricia Ann arrived at Someplace Special. She looked up and read the message chiseled in stone across the front of the building: Public Library: All Are Welcome.

Based on the true events in author Patricia C. McKissack’s young life, this powerful story should be required reading.

This story continues at Appeal Democrat.

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One Response to “Inspiring true stories encourage empathy”

  • Edwin Rutsch says:

    hi Kendal

    My I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion.
    The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
    The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews,  videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion.

    We posted this article to our facebook page.

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