Season 5 Ep. 102 The Building Books of Empathy with guest Melissa Hart


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This week’s episode is a nod to back-to-school season when teachers can get books into the hands of kids after a summer of free days, endless video games, and probably too many popsicles. We are joined by Melissa Hart from Eugene Oregon. She is the author of 2 memoirs, a middle grade book, and most recently a great resource for teachers, librarians, and parents called Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens.

When Melissa’s tween daughter was in elementary school, she dealt with anxiety and depression, and Melissa found a way to help her through reading targeted books together, a practice called bibliotherapy which some studies suggest is effective in the treatment of some forms of depression. But the list of books in Better With Books can also help a young person develop empathy and be more accepting of others who have different experiences from their own such as individuals with physical disabilities, mental health struggles, body image issues, and students from different religious backgrounds.

You can find find Melissa on instagram @wildmelissahart or at her website at

Books mentioned--

1- Better with Books: 500 Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens by Melissa Hart 2- Pinballs by Betsy Ayers 3- What Goes Up Must Come Down by Johanna Hurwitz 4- Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes 5- Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo 6- The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson 7- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 8- Far From the Tree by Robin Benway 9- Ten Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac 10- If I Ever Get Out of Here (audiobook) by Eric Gansworth 11- Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo 12- Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart 13- Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family by Melissa Hart 14- Dune by Frank Herbert 15- Dune Messiah (Book 2) by Frank Herbert 16- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 17- The Overstory by Richard Powers 18- There, There by Tommy Orange 19- Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen 20- Wishtree by Katherine Applegate 21- Pax by Sara Pennypacker 22- The One and Only Bob / The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate 23- Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter 24- Watership Down by Richard Adams

Movies mentioned-- 1- Dune (October 2021), directed by Denis Villeneuve

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