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George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) was a great believer in the power of empathy to move her readers. Back when she was writing in the 19th century, empathy was generally known as ‘sympathy’.
This is a classic short-story from Ursula Le Guin, one of the greatest sci-fi writers ever. You can find it in her collection The Wind’s Twelve Quarters. It’s not long but it has a powerful empathic message at the heart of it.
With touching detail, Shaun Tan's picture book tells the story of a migrant family, seeking refuge and asylum in a strange new city. By depicting this new city as an alienating, science-fiction world, Tan performs a neat trick on our empathy glands.
In Summer 2013, a graduation speech given by the idiosyncratic novelist, short-story genius and children’s author George Saunders went viral.
When I first read this children’s book, I was desperate to give it to everyone I knew- first my flatmate, then my parents. In fact, I wanted to have kids so I could share it with them about ten years later (it‘s still waiting patiently on my shelf for that moment).
‘Dear Joe, your wild noisy huge brother/is dead. I couldn’t do what my parents did/bring two boys, four years apart, through the maze.’
‘I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’
This is another of that very special kind of picture book which blurs the boundaries between what is for children and what can be appreciated by adults. The poet Michael Rosen wrote the book after the death of his son and Quentin Blake illustrates it sensitively.
It's not a book for the weak hearted.
Actually, it'd be better to say it's not a book for someone who is strong, mentally and emotionally.
The true story of a girl growing up in residential care. Her resilience shines through. It will hopefully inspire other children growing up in residential care to aspire to be more than a statistic.