E is for Empathy – and for Escape

Retreating into a book is one of my favourite pastimes.

Dear 8B,

Reading has always been my refuge from the real world. Books whisk me away from the present into a distant past, a mysterious future or an author’s imaginary universe.  Oddly enough, although novels provide a mode of escape from reality, they also force me to experience the pain and suffering of others. The greatest writers are utterly convincing: the worlds and the people within their books are just as intense and believable as the world I actually inhabit.

In fact, sometimes I indulge in little “if only” plays in my head. If only I were as clever as Hermione… If only Dumbledore hadn’t died… If only our school had a “Room of Requirement”…

Even Shakespeare has this effect on me. When Macbeth walks towards the sleeping Duncan, dagger in hand, I cry out inwardly: “Don’t do it! You can still stop! Let him live!” You know that a character has become important to you when you plead with another to spare him or her and in the process save his own soul.

Books can carry you away to another place or time, like a teleporter that actually works.

Have you ever had experiences like that, moments in which a book takes over your consciousness and becomes almost more real than your own existence? If so, write a comment in which you describe the novel and your reaction to it or simply recommend the author and book to your classmates.

Mrs McQueen is an everyday angel and a book fiend.

Mrs McQueen loves books, which is just as well, because as our librarian, she is their custodian, their advertising agent and our ongoing reading consultant. Here are some of her recommendations for wide reading, as well as some of the books chosen by the class.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

This short list is from the display in the library titled “Walk a mile in my shoes” – books chosen to promote reader empathy:

  • Does my head look big in this? by Randa Abdel-Fattah | Book details
  • When Michael met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah | Book details
  • f2m: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards – A young person transitioning from female to male is the focus of this story. | More information – or read the first 12 pages here
  • Nona & Me by Clare Atkins This is a story about an Aboriginal girl and her closest friend. | Book details
  • Kokoda Track: 101 Days – Peter Macinnis This story is about bravery in Australia’s history. | Book details provided by the State Library “Inside a Dog” site
  • Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope by Jenna Bush A young girl grows up with HIV and all the prejudice and suffering that brings. | Book details from UNICEF
  • Veiled Courage: Inside the Afghan Women’s Resistance by Cheryl Benard In this story, women defy the Taliban. | Review at GoodReads
  • Ethel and Ernest: A True Story by Raymond Briggs This is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel about an “ordinary couple” who live through World War 2 and the period of the Cold War. They have an extraordinarily talented son and it is he who decides to tell and illustrate his parents’ life story. This novel has also been adapted as a short film. You can see the trailer below: 

Other Recommendations from Mrs McQueen

Classy Choices by Class Members

  • Hunger by Michael Grant – Anre
  • The Siren by Kiera Cass – Rose
  • Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl – Pia
  • Assassin’s Creed by Christie Golden – Eden
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K.Rowling – Claire
  • The Flywheel by Erin Gough – Kim
  • Doctor Who: Death Riders (Justin Richards) and Heart of Stone (Trevor Baxendale) – Barrie

Essential Links

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10 thoughts on “E is for Empathy – and for Escape

  1. I strongly recommend reading the ‘Once’ series by Morris Gleitzman if you enjoy history and war novels. The novel is fiction but refers to a non-fiction event, the Holocaust. In this series you are captivated by a young Jewish orphan on a journey to find his parents, escaping Nazi penalties every day. Along the way, he gains help and develops strong relationships – until they disappear in the blink of an eye. By the end of each book, you won’t have a dry eye and you’ll have a great deal of sympathy for the millions that were killed.

    1. I agree with you, Bethany. This series is indeed deeply moving, especially the second book, Then. Morris Gleitzman read many accounts of children and adults caught up in the cruel net of the Holocaust and his story is consequently realistic and convincing; yet his young protagonist, Felix, despite all the horror and terror that he encounters, somehow retains his faith in other human beings and his hope for the future. Here is Morris Gleitzman’s description of his series: http://www.morrisgleitzman.com/once.htm

  2. Assassin’s Creed is a great book and I would recommend it to people who love mysterious and historic types of book with lots of adventure and excitement along the way. There are many different assassins that you can find out about. In other words its the perfect book for mad “Assassin’s Creed” fans who love to play the games. It takes place between Assassin’s Creed 1 and 3.

  3. Bad Apple by Matt Whyman
    Genre – Humor
    This book is really thrilling. It tells the story of a boy, Maurice, who is mentally covered in a thick layer of bubble wrap by his parents. The teenage phase overtakes people’s minds, turning them savage. They’re labelled as ‘trolls’. When he crosses paths with a troll, Wretch, Maurice finds himself breaking out of this bubble wrap, to be as rebellious as these trolls, breaking the laws, hijacking cars and hiding away from the police.
    Bad Apple is a great book. I recommend it for 12 and upwards.
    Each action or word can put you on the edge of your seat; it’s a gripping novel full of friendship and mystery.

  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    Genre: History
    Age Group: 14+
    I think this is a beautifully written book. It shows how hard it was to grow up in Nazi-Germany. It perfectly captures the terrors that came with being a Jewish person and hiding a Jewish person from the Nazis. I would recommend it to everyone.

  5. My recommended book is Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly. It is a good book. It is about adventure since it is a race to find all the seven wonders of the world. I found the book suspenseful and I would recommend it for students of 13 and above.

  6. I highly recommend the CHERUB series. The one I’m reading is called ‘Class A’ and is the second book in the series. The genre is a combination of Young Adult Fiction and Thriller. The concept is about spies who infiltrate criminal organisations and break them down. The twist? The spies are kids. ‘Adults never suspect kids are spies’ is the motto. Travel with James as he goes into situations involving momentous pressure with his mates. This book has twists and turns when you least expect them and will always keep you turning the pages. At the end you’ll be hungry to read the rest of the books in the series. I feel that Robert Muchamore has really produced a glorious book.

  7. Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo
    Age Recommendation – 10+

    Running Wild is a captivating novel that is fictional but with a true side to it. It is about a boy named Will and his mother, who go to Indonesia to take a break from their problems back at home. As part of their adventures, Will goes on an elephant ride along the beach. The elephant runs off with Will still on it, up the mountain into the jungle. Will realises the Boxing Day Tsunami has hit the coast where his mother is.

    Running Wild is very intriguing and it makes you feel sad and sorry for all those who lost loved ones in the tsunami. The way the book has been written makes you want to keep on turning the page.

  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a fantasy/thriller/drama/mystery novel. The Potter series tells the story of a young boy named Harry Potter and his unique, unconventional adventures within the walls of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In this particular year (third year), he ventures out to find and potentially defeat Sirius Black, the man who (apparently) betrayed Harry’s parents and caused outright chaos in the wizarding world.
    J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, surpassed any other author, and wrote the most captivating series to date. These intriguing novels may entertain readers of any generation/age group, as I acknowledge those adults who still occasionally ponder when their letter to Hogwarts will arrive.

  9. Diary of a wimpy kid: Rodrick rules by Commode
    The diary of a wimpy kid series is great for those who just like a good laugh and great tricks and skills for getting through everyday life. The series is also ideal if you would just like to see a kid get thrown some everyday problems (with which you could probably relate) and find for the most times stupid yet hilarious solutions.

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