The first step to developing empathy is emotional literacy, or the ability to read or recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others so that you can figure out what they are feeling
Illustrated children’s books have long been used to encourage an support reading skills in children. However, they have been mostly neglected as a an aid for children’s emotional development. Recent advancements and understanding in cognitive psychology have led to new ways of looking at picture books. These achievements inform teachers in the use of picture books to foster children’s emotional literacy.
Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotions. It is arguably the most important capacity distinguishing humans from other living organisms. Empathy is an essential social skill. However, a capacity of empathy does not appear automatically. Usually emerging around the age of 4, empathy develops gradually toward adolescence. Yet, emotional literacy can be enhanced and trained.
At Treehouse Publishing Group (www.treehousetoons.com), located in Tennessee USA, we believe a core tool in fostering empathy in young children is books. Illustrated children’s books evoke our emotional engagement through images as well as words and, moreover, through amplification of the words by attention grabbing images.
Non-profits empathize with and address many social economical, emotional and environmental needs all over the world. We transform the experiences of these organizations into children’s books that help our youth to understand and to develop empathy around these issues.