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Accio, Empathy!

In this opinion article from the NY Times, writer Hanna Kozlowska argues that Harry Potter is the perfect children’s book because it has underlying themes of prejudice and acceptance. In the Harry Potter series, there is a clear social hierarchy in which the wizards and witches believe that “pure bloods”, or a child born of two magical parents, are at the top of society, followed next by “half-breeds”, or half wizard, half Muggle, and lastly “Muggles”, or non-magic humans. In the story, some characters come from very prejudiced, ignorant families that discriminate against groups comprised of the “other”. Kozlowska sites a study conducted by a psychologist who found that Harry Potter built empathy for various stigmatized groups in the story and could be applied to real life situations with homosexuals, refugees, and immigrants. The author also wrote about the impact Harry Potter has on a child’s personality development and moral development. As the stories develop, Harry confronts the trivial happenings of growing up including his first crush, fighting with friends, and accepting oneself and others.
This article is directly connected to my guiding questions because not only does it illustrate how empathy is represented in a children’s book, but is also discusses the other character development that can occur through a story. Harry Potter is world-famous and read by thousands of children. The topics of overcoming stereotypes and accepting others are interwoven in the general theme of empathy and can be accessed through reading the Harry Potter series.
Kozlowska, H. (2014, September 17). Can ‘harry potter’ change the world? Retrieved July 01, 2016, from http://op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/can-harry-potter-change-the-world/
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Judy Blume

Judy Blume is a world-famous children’s and young adult author. She began her writing career in children’s stories, but has since written books for pre-teens and adults. Her most well-known stories include the Superfudge series, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and Blubber. Her website chronicles her journey of becoming an iconic author and discusses her experience with censorship. Judy Blume is a critical aspect of my project because her books all have underlying themes of empathy and everyday occurrences children face as they grow up including bullying, puberty, and family problems.
Blume has written 28 books total, including 3 adult novels, and has inspired millions of children around the world. Her books have been translated into 32 different languages and are so famous because she touches on topics that some children are afraid to bring up to adults. Her book Blubber discusses an ongoing bullying situation in a classroom based on her daughter’s own experience. The themes of empathy, friendship, and bullying are important for all children to read.
This resource helps me answer my guiding questions because it provides insight into why Blume began writing stories and an incredible resource for books about empathy. She discusses her hopes to open children’s minds to respecting one another and accepting life as it ebbs and flows. I learned about the many books that she has written, so many that I have never heard of, as well as resources for children to access have they any questions. Blume was subject to censorship as many people thought her books were too honest and inappropriate for children. Blume continued to write and fight for her books to be accessible to children because she believes her works are educational and important for children to read because so many can relate to them.
Judy Blume on the Web: How I Became an Author. (n.d.). Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://www.judyblume.com/about/author/author.php

Trudy Ludwig

Trudy Ludwig is a children’s advocate and author who focuses on writing stories about common sentiments and problems in children’s lives. She is an expert in bullying amongst children and relational aggression between girls. Ludwig writes fictional stories that chronicles the events many children experience while offering advice, humor, and comfort to people of all ages. Her most popular books are My Secret Bully, Confessions of a Former Bully, and Sorry! Ludwig’s books are geared for elementary aged students and she has found through her research that conflicts begin with students in preschool.

Through Ludwig, I learned the importance of using children’s literature to teach life lessons to students. Ludwig based her first book, My Secret Bully, off of her daughter’s experience with bullying. In using real life events to create her stories, Ludwig creates relatable stories for children of all ages. I also found Ludwig to be incredibly resourceful because she works closely with educators as she wants the best for children. She has created Common Core aligned lesson plans for all of her books so teachers can access them for free and apply them into their classrooms.

Trudy Ludwig is applicable to my content question because she is a children’s author that uses literature as her platform to reach students and teach them about empathy. Through her stories, she not only talks about the meaning of empathy, but the reason why empathy is important.

Ludwig, T. (2015). Trudy ludwig: making a difference in kids’ lives, one book at a time. Retrieved June 19, 2016, from http://www.trudyludwig.com/index.html

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