Monday, June 12, 2017

Repost: When Tragedy Happens, I Turn to Books

*I wrote this post a year ago after the tragic mass murder in Orlando. I'm reposting it today, one year after the senseless killings, in the hope that it will help us all think about ways to grow more empathy in our classrooms and our world.
Design by Ashley Heafy.
When tragedy happens, I turn to books. When huge nationwide news story tragedies happen, I turn to books. When local tragedies happen in my town, I turn to books. When personal tragedies happen in the lives of my students, I turn to books. When I don’t know what to say, but can only cry inside and out for what has happened that has hurt people, I turn to books because they can speak for me. When students are hurting, I instinctively turn to books and search high and low for just the right book for that moment in their lives that might help them through. Books have the power to heal, to inspire, to provide escape, to gain understanding, to show kids they’re not alone in the world, to change people’s opinions, to create community, to develop empathy.
We have the opportunity in our classrooms to create safe spaces for kids, and communities where all are accepted. One of the best ways I know to do that is by sharing stories, all kinds of stories, so students better understand the world around them, and the people in it. This is why I turn to books, and am ever so grateful for the authors who write those stories that help kids see the world in a different way.
Books I have read that I recommend to kids to help build empathy for, and understanding of, those around us.
Young Adult
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne
All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
Winger by Andrew Smith
The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Shine by Lauren Myracle
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman (poetry)
Non-Fiction Choice

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History...and Our Future! by Kate Schatz

Middle Grades
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan
The Best Man by Richard Peck (September release)
Pieces of Why by K.L.Going
The Fall by James Preller
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

What are some of the books you share with students to help build empathy and tolerance?

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