Printed Date: 24/07/2024

Empathy Day in Bromley

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This year GLL's Bromley Libraries were delighted to take a full and active part in Empathy Day on Thursday 6th June - an annual celebration designed to develop empathy in children through reading and sharing books.

Empathy Day was set up by EmpathyLab (https://www.empathylab.uk/empathy-day). Public libraries - as community hubs - are ideally placed to champion the organisation's work and have a key role to play in supporting schools and families to help children develop fellow-feeling.

Bromley's Children’s Team are particularly committed to providing services for children and passionately believe in the power of empathy to create stronger and kinder communities. This year, as part of our outreach to schools, we planned and ran sessions using the EmpathyLab Toolkit for primary and secondary children and public libraries, and encouraged pupils from three primary schools across the borough, to charge up their empathy superpower by following the three simple steps – read, connect, act!

We connected with the children via a number of activities - using empathy exchange questions and sharing books from the ‘read with empathy collection’ and promoting discussion using the character prompts. We created an empathy bookshelf of the children’s favourite books and with one class, we took a photo of their recommended reads. Finally, we invited the children to make and act upon their empathy resolutions using the bunting.

As part of our ‘drop in’ Empathy Day activities for families, there were displays of the Read for Empathy collection books (past and present) and we provided Mission Empathy activity templates and drawing and colouring materials at designated ‘empathy stations’ in some of our branches.

Families were able to make their own 'empathy glasses' to view the world through an empathic lens, create an emotions map to chart their feelings throughout the day, and make an empathy resolution using the empathy bunting.

Empathy Day activities were also woven into our regular community sessions such as Baby Bounce and Rhyme and Storytime and we put on an empathy-themed puppet show at Bromley Central Library during half term.

We would really encourage other library authorities to join the empathy movement and participate in Empathy Day next year if they didn’t manage it this year, at a time when empathy, a learnable skill, is needed more than ever.

EmpathyLab have created a set of excellent resources and author events that make taking part easy and have been incredibly supportive and encouraging of public library engagement. They even invited us to speak at their training sessions this year to help us engage schools in partnering with public libraries to deliver Mission Empathy. 

Happy Empathy Day!