In the article, writer Liz Bury discuss the research done on literature and the presence of empathy. According to Bury, literature allows readers to step into the world, experiences, and thoughts of a character and gain an understanding and respect of another person. Through reading, we can learn lessons from the characters and apply those experiences to our real life situations. In particular, this article discusses literature’s improvement of social empathy. Social empathy is the ability to understand others by gaining further insight to another person’s experiences. Bury sites various studies done on literature and empathy and finds that although literature has a short-term affect on the development of empathy, there are more benefits to reading than just character development. This article is important to answer my guiding research question because it specifically highlights social empathy. It is important to choose children’s books that allow students to connect with the characters. Children need to be able to relate with the characters, whether in age, race, culture, or ability. By finding a common interest, students are able to easily step into the shoes of the character and gain a deeper understanding of that person’s life. If we read stories to children that have little to no connection to them, children will have a harder time seeing how empathy is represented in the story.
Bury, L. (2013, October 08). Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds. Retrieved July 01, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/oct/08/literary-fiction-improves-empathy-study