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Harry Potter and Empathy

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, is one of the most famous, timeless books of all time. In this book, Harry Potter, a young wizard, faces many obstacles as he attempts to defeat Voldemort, a dark wizard. At first glance, this book seems to be a fantasy adventure story, fighting with an evil wizard to save the world. However, this book has a deeper meaning, allowing readers to connect with and learn from the characters. Harry and his friends endure the struggles of growing up: bullies, friendship, acceptance, perseverance, and loyalty. For example, there is a character in the story named Malfoy that uses his status as a wealthy child who comes from a positive wizarding family to bully Harry, Ron, and Hermionie. Through the entire Harry Potter series, Malfoy is an antagonize that attempts to ostracize and demean Harry and his friends. This books provides a great segway for conversations about the importance of friendship, acceptance, and positive behaviors to help deal with a bully.

Harry Potter is connected to my topic of empathy in children’s literature because it is a classic, world-famous story that has been read by thousands of children. I grew up reading Harry Potter and found myself to be more empathetic and accepting of everyone. Harry Potter has many different groups of fantastical species including house elves, centaurs, and giants. Rowling attempts to show the prejudice and maltreatment of these groups as a means to touch on empathy and accepting one another.

 

Rowling, J. K. (1998). Harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone. Toronto: Scholastic Books.

Judy Blume: A Biography

https://magic.piktochart.com/editor/piktochart/14840535#

Judy Blume: A Biography, written by Kathleen Tracy, discusses Judy Blume’s life as a young children and through her more than 30 years of writing. The book begins with Blume’s life as a young girl born in 1938. She loved to read, but was confused why there were no books to discuss the topics in her mind, the ones she feared discussing with her family.When Blume finally gained enough courage to write, she decided that she wanted to write about the common problems children face, the problems she faced, so other kids had a book they could relate to. Blume said, “It’s really hard to be a child, and no one has shown just how hard it is” (p. 60). The book that really sparked Blume’s career was Are you There God? Its Me, Margaret, which was published in 1970. This was one of the first books to ever discuss a child’s question about religion, puberty, and friendship.

I never knew that Blume struggled to become a writer. She spent a few years taking care of her children as a stay-at-home mom and doing various small-scale projects before gaining the courage to follow her dreams. I also had no idea how much censorship Blume faced. Teachers banned her books from their classrooms, parents refused to let their children read it, and whole schools refused to have any Blume books in their libraries. She was the most banned author in the United States from 1982-1996! She eventually joined the National Coalition Against Censorship and advocates for the freedom to read.

This biography on Judy Blume was incredibly insightful to me because it gave me an in depth look at the life of the woman behind all the books I found comfort in reading when I was growing up. Readers often say that Blume is so relateable and honest, and her biography showed that she faced many obstacles as she grew up as well. She got divorced twice, received major rejection, and battled censorship groups. Blume said that she “wanted to be honest- maybe because [she] felt grown-ups hadn’t been honest with [her] when [she] was a kid” (p. 112). Literature is so powerful and can have a profound impact on students. She said she didn’t know why she became so successful as an author, “except that there must be something [she] does that makes people see themselves in [her] stories” (p. 133).

 

Tracy, K. (2008). Judy blume: A biography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Hey, Little Ant

Hey, Little Ant, by Hannah Hoose and Phillip M. Hoose, illustrated by Debbie Tilley, is a wonderful short story surrounding the topic of empathy. In the rhyming book, a big human walks up to a tiny ant and tells it he is going to squish it. The ant begins to beg the boy not to squish him because he has a family and contributes to his nest. The boy is unable to empathize with the ant, telling it that he is much more important than a tiny ant, but the ant disagrees. The ant tells the boy the reasons why they are similar and why the ant should be saved. At the end of the story, the readers have the opportunity to decide if the boy should squish the ant or not.

I really enjoyed this short story because it is a great way to bring to a classroom discussion about empathy and respect.

 

Hoose, P. M., Hoose, H., & Tilley, D. (1998). Hey, little ant. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.

William J. Kreidler

William J. Kreidler is the author of the book Teaching Conflict Resolution Through Children’s Literature. In this book, Kreidler discusses a “conflict escalator” that students get on as the issue becomes more serious and is not resolved. Kreidler taught elementary school for 20 years prior to writing this book and uses his own observations of student interactions and conflicts as examples in his work. The goal for this book is to help students become independent problem solvers and handle confrontations effectively and appropriately. Kreidler suggests various children’s stories to read in a classroom that will foster effective communication, conflict resolution, and community amongst students.

Kreidler, W. J. (1994). Teaching conflict resolution through children’s literature. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

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