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Stories that develop empathy?  

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V. Joy Palmer
(@vjoypalmer)
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19/03/2020 10:25 pm  

I love to write romantic and comedic stories that will make you swoon and laugh (evil seagull, anyone? ) while also shinning a light on some of those deep-down thorns that make our hearts ache. In my novel Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations, Batman-loving Apryl has to face some lies that have shaped her self-image and her relationship with God. As she deals with those things in her heart, she's able to empathize with the people around her in a new way. What stories would you recommend that develop the character's empathy in a similar way?

<3 V. Joy Palmer


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Roseanna
(@roseannamwhitegmail-com)
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20/03/2020 2:10 pm  

There are actually studies that show fiction readers are more empathetic than those who don't read fiction! Pretty cool, huh? I've found SO many books that do this!

I do love how your books handle it--with a light and funny touch. Of course, they also make me crave junk food, so maybe I shouldn't be thanking you for that reaction. 😉

April McGowan's definitely helped me better understand the homeless, those with chronic illness, and those suffering from things like PTSD and depression.

Camille Eide's Wings Like a Dove made me question my own biases and challenged me to be blind to people's faults--but not their needs.

And one of the few to ever make me cry--My Mother's Chamomile by Susie Finkbeiner. Oh my gracious. Such a beautiful story about how we deal with loss--and what a unique person you have to be to guide people through that on a daily basis.

 


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Hannah Currie
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20/03/2020 8:59 pm  

I totally agree with you on fiction developing empathy! Not surprised in the slightest that it's been proven in studies. There have been so many books I've read lately which have 'grown my heart', as such, due to the situations characters are placed in and dealing with.

Lots of specifics - There You'll Find me (Jenny B Jones) got me inside the head/heart of a teen dealing with an eating disorder and the way it affected her friends and family, The Library of Lost Things (Laura Taylor Namey) dealt with a bunch of stuff from hoarding to mental issues to loss of dreams to true friendship, A Name Unknown (Roseanna White) reminded me of the power of prayer and acceptance....

I could go on (for a really long time!) but in a more general sense, fiction - both reading and writing it - has reminded me that everyone has a story. There's something about getting so deeply inside the mind of a fictional character which brings out the story of real people. Those I see out shopping, on public transport, on tv... They all have stories. They all have reasons for doing what they do. They all feel hope and pain and loss and joy. I have not only far more empathy for them because of fiction but more appreciation and patience with them too. 

Fiction can be so incredibly powerful!


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V. Joy Palmer
(@vjoypalmer)
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21/03/2020 12:56 pm  

@roseannamwhitegmail-com, well, how do you feel about lemons? It's all about the lemons next time. Okay, and maybe some fudge.... And brownies...  

What an awesome study! I have noticed some of those differences in the people I meet. Another point for fiction, LOL!

These are some awesome suggestions! I love the way these stories build empathy for people and their unique experiences!  

 

<3 V. Joy Palmer


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V. Joy Palmer
(@vjoypalmer)
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21/03/2020 1:31 pm  

@hannahcurrie, YESSS!! Those are awesome reads that 'grow the heart'!  

Totally agree with you about the power of fiction! Everyone has a unique story, and I am so thankful for the way fiction enables me to love others in the ways they need to be loved!  

 

<3 V. Joy Palmer


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David
(@admin)
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22/03/2020 11:31 am  

@vjoypalmer As I'm reading your newest book for edits  I've found myself thinking about things like, well, lemons.  And how your current main character has a "soundtrack" for every moment of her life.  This kind of thing makes me think about how different people have a completely different lens through which they view the world.  

For some people its music and they love lemons! 

For others its math - like Margo in Roseanna's The Number of Love.  Or for (our own author) Sarah SE Clancy its a love of sarcasm and a hatred of condiments.

Its so important to realize that everyone comes at the world with a different point of view.  Too often we want to put our own experience and lives over top other peoples and we wonder why they don't respond like we would.  Its funny because how we might view Margo is different than how we might see Sarah simply because we spend a few hours "in her head."

 


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CaitlynSanti
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22/03/2020 6:37 pm  

@vjoypalmer I really enjoyed your book Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations, and I'm looking forward to going back and reading Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations! 

 

I know there are a ton more, but these are two examples of books I've read that are definitely empathy builders! 

 
First, When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin. This book tackles a whole host of topics in a raw, realistic, and hope filled manner. It filled me with empathy and compassion from the first page all the way through. Right now I'm reading the second book in the series, A Gift to Cherish and it's every bit as good as the first! 
 
Second, I just recently read an ARC of This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche. The hero, Robbie is dyslexic, which is something I don't think I've seen in a book before. I admired that the author wrote it in such a way as to build empathy in the reader by being real about Robbie's struggles, but also making it clear that dyslexia does not define Robbie's life and who he is as a person! He does definitely have moments of frustration and insecurity but mostly he accepts it as a part of how God made him. 

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V. Joy Palmer
(@vjoypalmer)
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22/03/2020 6:39 pm  

@admin I love that you pointed that out! That "different lens" is something I was trying to convey with that main character!

I agree. It's really easy to forget that everyone has different core experiences and processes life differently. I'm thankful for how writing and reading fiction has helped me in this area. It's even helped me better understand the people I have known for many years!

 

<3 V. Joy Palmer


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V. Joy Palmer
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22/03/2020 6:53 pm  

@caitlynsanti Thank you so much!! I'm so glad you enjoyed Apryl and Chance's story!  

Those are great suggestions!! I haven't read When He Found Me, but I still remember the way Victoria Bylin built empathy in my heart in Until I Found You! And now I'm really looking forward to reading Janine's debut! What a great hero and struggle for building empathy! 

 

<3 V. Joy Palmer


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Susantm
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24/03/2020 5:34 pm  

As a middle grade writer, I also read a lot of middle grade books. This is an age where I think books can really affect children and help them become better people while their personalities are still more fluid. One author I love is Cynthia Lord. Her best-known book, Rules, teaches empathy for those on the autistic spectrum, as well as their siblings. Another book of hers, A Handful of Stars, shows the prejudice faced by children of migrant workers, as one such girl becomes friends with another girl who has lost her mother and is being raised by grandparents. I have been trying to read books about people from different cultures, and I love learning to see from different viewpoints.


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V. Joy Palmer
(@vjoypalmer)
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25/03/2020 2:58 pm  

@susantm These books sound amazing! I love how these unique viewpoints. I will definitely be looking up Rules because my daughter is on the spectrum. Reading books that give me an idea of how she views the world has been so helpful to me!

 

<3 V. Joy Palmer


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