Books are safe spaces for exploring terrifying places. How would I know what it felt like to shelter from the Gestapo if it weren’t for Anne Frank’s diary? How could I begin to have any idea about enslavement if it weren’t for Frederick Douglass’s autobiographies and other slave narratives? Books transport us to other times in ways that no other vehicle quite can. As we read, we live lives other than our own.
In Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, Maryanne Wolf explains that as we read, “For a moment in time we leave ourselves; and when we return, sometimes expanded and strengthened, we are changed both intellectually and emotionally.” The deep reading process, she advocates, fosters empathy.
At a time when, according to Education Week market research reports, 90% of school district leaders are looking for social-emotional learning “products,” I say look no farther than your local bookstore.