Random thoughts from an accidental publisher
Empathy Lab says:
"In today’s divided world, the need for more empathy has never been more urgent. Helping children put empathy into action will reduce prejudice, and build a more caring society. The UK’s shocking post-Brexit rise in hate crimes has highlighted the urgency of educating children to enter into other people’s feelings.
Empathy Lab was founded to incubate an empathy literature and social action programme for 4-11 year olds, aiming to make a real difference to thousands of children's lives, story by story."
Alanna Books says:
"To find the right stories, a team at empathy Lab selected 30 books for it's 2018 Read For Empathy Guide. AlannaMax is thrilled that Lulu Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw was selected."
Anna McQuinn says:
It's sad how much the Brexit Referendum (both the run up to it and the aftremath) has given space to an uglier voice in our society. It's a voice and a narrative that sets people against eachother. One that particularly casts any 'other' as enemy.
As Empathy Lab says, 'the need for empathy has never been greater'.
I find it heartening how many contributions by immigrants there are on the Read for Empathy Guide. Here at AlannaMax, both I and co-publisher, Ken Wilson-Max are immigrants (from Ireland and Zimbabwe respectively). At Tiny Owl, both of the founders, Delaram and Karim are from Iran (they published The Parrot and the Merchant). And Lantana's You're Safe with Me is written by another, Chitra Soundar who hails originally from India.
Londoners all, together we are blogging and tweeting as #ImmigrantVoices for #EmpathyDay and each of us is blogging and recommending some good reads from our countries of origin. Here's mine!
People don’t really think of you as an immigrant if you’re Irish. But I came to the UK as an economic migrant (the worst kind!) in 1988 - along with many other young people.
However, the narratives the started in the run up to the Brexit referendum have been horrible – divisive rhetoric has pitted people against each other and often cast anyone from somewhere else, anyone who is not white as a problem to be got rid of.
As someone who has spent almost 30 years writing, editing, publishing and promoting stories that encourage understanding and empathy, this has made me feel particularly defeated.
On the other hand, stories like these have never been more important and the Empathy Lab project gives me hope that books can change attitudes and lives. I love the project’s emphasis not just on growing empathetic feelings but also on promoting action. I love its emphasis on the three major aspects of empathy:
• emotional (reacting to other people’s distress);
• cognitive (developing accurate and deep insight into other people’s
thoughts and feelings) and, crucially,
• action (what you actually do with those emotional and cognitive
reactions – things like comforting, helping and supporting others).
I have been moved beyond words that my story about little Lulu getting a cat made it on to the recommended list – alongside SO many amazing books all working hard to encourage understanding and empathy towards others and to encourage children to be translate those empathetic thought and feelings into actions.
I would like to encourage everyone involved with Empathy Lab to act on what they learn from this powerful stories.
Read Stories • Build Empathy • Make a Better World
Our group of #ImmigrantVoices have decided to chose books from our country of origin which gives readers wishing to understand that country an insight.
I’m going to start with Walter Macken’s The Silent People (and old classic dealing with a period in Irish history know as The Famine which shaped all Irish people).
I also highliy recommend this pair: Kissing the Witch, written by Emma Donoghue
and Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan (illustrated by Karen Vaughan) - recent winner of the CBI Children’s Book of the Year Awards and a modern masterpiece by an amazing independent Irish publishing company, Little Island.
Make sure you follow the blog tour to hear what the authors have to say about the books selected