“Books are incubators” – Stories Cultivating Empathy

“Books are incubators.” Jason Reynolds’ words resonate. I imagine books hatching open worlds, creating images, and stories not only of things we love but questions and conversations. Right now, we need the incubators of stories to cultivate empathy.

Librarians curate book collections, which represent our students, their backgrounds and stories. They are mirrors into their lives and windows into someone else’s life.

Now think of that favorite book as a child or even a current one. Did it mirror your life?  What is it a window into someone else’s life? What is a sliding glass door where you became part of the story? When was the last time you or your family read a book with a character that looked different than you? Or had a religion or an experience that you did not understand?

I ask this because our books lack diversity, creating singular viewpoints of stories. Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her Ted Talk explains when she was young, she only saw windows into other people’s lives and didn’t know that her story too could exist in literature. 

When we only hear one continual narrative about a culture, it creates stereotypes and that is the only story we hear. The need for diverse books is to expand the single story and use stories as incubators to begin the work of cultivating empathy and allowing us to have hard, vulnerable conversations.

Below are two incredible lists of sources.

Made with Padlet

Race, Anti-Racist, Equality & Social Justice Resources for all Students, Librarians, Teachers, Families and Communities

Let us curate a bookshelf that amplifies diverse voices!

Jess Winter, 2020-21 Communications Project Management Chair 

Kindness

This year our League president, Kerri Palmesano has turned our focus towards extending kindness. In the spirit of her theme, “Throw Kindness Like Confetti”, we have included some ways that you too can spread kindness.

  • Leave a note tucked in the pages of a book for a stranger to find
  • Deliver homemade baked goods to your neighbor(s)
  • Pay someone a genuine compliment
  • Clean up the trash in a public place
  • Offer to run an errand for a busy friend
  • Buy a book that you think a friend will like and give it to her
  • Hold a door for someone

Our League kicked the year off by learning from Ferial Pearson, the founder of The Secret Kindness Agents. Ferial provided thought provoking conversations with our members this past fall that has catalyzed our work to be more inclusive and equitable. We commend her work to spread kindness and encourage you to watch her TEDx Talk.

Please click here if you would like to join Secret Kindness Agents mailing list.

Kelsey Haswell, Marketing Vice Chair