This month, our Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen encourages everyone across the District to read books that promote empathy. Our social and emotional learning (SEL) books for the month of November are Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts for elementary readers, Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper for middle school readers, and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult for high school readers.
November Theme: Empathy
We appreciate the value of kindness in building and maintaining a positive learning community.
- In Those Shoes (elementary school readers), all Jeremy wants is a pair of “those shoes” like the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that’s the wrong size. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
- In Out of Mind (middle school readers), 11-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but no one knows it. Most people — her teachers and doctors included — don’t think she’s capable of learning, and until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows…but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.
- My Sister’s Keeper (high school readers) is an emotional story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs. One sister is battling leukemia and the other sister was conceived to be her bone marrow match.
Social awareness allows individuals to take others’ perspectives into account and to empathize with others. Socially aware students are more likely to recognize and appreciate the similarities and differences of others. Social awareness is particularly important for students as they participate in new instructional shifts. Students need to take the perspectives of their classmates during classroom discussions and attempt to empathize and relate with characters during analysis of texts.