Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nurturing Empathy Through Stories

Growing up can be tricky business. Children have to contend with peer pressure, inflated competition in schools, articulating their emotions, and building confidence. The academic and social challenges can be unrelenting, and often lead to feelings of isolation, inadequacy and low self-esteem. For long, parents and teachers assumed that dealing with these feelings depended on temperament and personality, and that all children would pick these skills up eventually, as a part of growing up. However, with studies, emotional intelligence has emerged as a valuable way of working through these obstacles in a healthy manner.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and react to one’s own feelings and emotions, and also empathise with what others are going through. It’s our capacity to relate to and communicate with others using emotions. While we are all born with varying levels of emotional intelligence, the good news is that it is not a static number, and can be worked upon.

Being exposed to opportunities that allow you to express your feelings, and learning to speak in ways that ensure that everyone will hear you, works better when it is taught from an early age. “Something we now know, from doing dozens of studies, is that emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn,” says Marc Brakett, a senior research scientist in psychology at Yale University. As a result, schools around the world have begun to incorporate social-emotional learning to develop children into healthier and happier adults. Not only has heightened emotional intelligence been a trait of successful and social adults, but it has also shown strong links to financial earnings, though the two were previously thought as being completely unrelated.

Teaching children to name their feelings, and creating strategies to deal with those different feelings is a good way to develop emotional intelligence in children. Asking children to identify the feelings of other people and places (“How does this place make you feel?”, “Does this place feel peaceful to you?”, etc.) is another way of helping children become more aware of their emotions, and understand how to respond to them.

At Pratham Books, we believe that books can also serve as a great way of nurturing empathy in children. Some of the books that have recently been developed at Pratham Books, keeping in mind the value of emotional intelligence are -

1. A Helping Hand by Payal Dhar and Vartika Sharma

There's a new girl in class and our teacher has asked me to be her friend and show her around. But I'm not sure I want to - she's... not like the rest of us! A fascinating tale of friendship and fitting in, which tells its story through letters. 



2. Reeti and Mithu by Anupa Lal and Soumya Menon

Reeti's holidays have begun, but she isn't happy. She doesn't like holidays because she misses being with her friends. One day she gets a pet - Mithu, the talking parrot. Does Mithu become her new best friend? Read this heartwarming story of friendship to find out!


3. Angry Akku by Vinayak Varma

Akku is having an awful day and it’s making her very, VERY angry. Read this book to find out how Akku's anger melts away, and get ideas on what to do when YOU are very, VERY angry. 


4. Kalpana’s Cycle by Sowmya Rajendran and Kabini Amin

Kalpana is learning to cycle, but it isn’t easy at all! She falls over and over again, even hurting herself. Does she finally learn to cycle? Does she give up? A heartwarming story about the importance of trying.


The titles mentioned above are available for free in multiple languages on StoryWeaver, and are also available for sale in our e-store.

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