Rewiring Empathy: The Value of Multicultural Literature in the Classroom
Keywords:multiculturalism, multicultural fiction, internet, hate crimes, diversity, children's literature, empathy
Reading multicultural novels cultivates empathy for diverse people, cultures, and environments in ways that Internet use cannot. The act of reading fictional books has been shown to increase the capacity for empathy in the reader. Internet use, by contrast, has been shown to reduce students’ ability to remember, concentrate, and engage in the deep reading and contemplation activity that develops empathy. Empathy is vital to our global future. Hate crimes are increasing in the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere; worldwide, the number of political and climate-change refugees is increasing and the biodiversity of other species is declining. Addressing these problems requires an increase in human empathy and cooperation. Therefore multicultural books are vital to preparing students for our changing world. It is up to schools to discover, acquire, and prioritize multicultural books in the classroom.