Tonight I'm thinking a LOT about empathy, the virtue of putting oneself in another's shoes to understand what he or she is feeling, because today's guest post -- Empathy In A (Shoe) Box -- at the Corner on Character is quite possibly the best empathy lesson I've ever seen. I'm also anticipating seventeen days of glory watching the Olympics and trying to imagine how many pairs of shoes those phenomenal athletes must go through as they train. Both of these reflections, along with the fact that another London Olympics happened right after World War II, have reminded me of Lita Judge's One Thousand Tracings.
Check out this book and explore the story's subtitle: Healing The Wounds Of World War II. Ask your students prediction questions like What is that little girl up to with the shoes? How is she feeling? Who needs help? How will she be able to help even though she's just a child? Take a picture walk through the pages. Find out from your students if they've ever been able to help a stranger. If so, whom? Why did they do it? What was that experience like? How did it feel?
The young narrator was able to put herself in the shoes of strangers on the other side of the world and wanted so desperately to help. That's empathy! Besides shoes, what other basic-need items did she send? What did the caring and compassion that she shared do for those "friends" who received her packages? How did the little girl help Eliza? How did her act of kindness make a difference in her own life as well as the life of her new friend? What might happen to their friendship in a year? Five years? Ten?
For more character-infusion activity ideas, come by The Corner on Character.