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