Reading Without Walls

Explore the world through books and build empathy by reading about people who are different than you.

Photo of Meg Dana
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I teach 5th grade in Southern California. One of my professional goals this year is to build empathy. Here's my Design Thinking challenge: How might we promote respectful interactions between students by creating opportunities to build social and emotional skills? I have been successful nurturing a classroom of strong readers. Since literature is a vehicle to get outside one's comfort zone, this seemed like a logical next step. 

This challenge comes from Gene Luen Yang, the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature.

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Photo of Emma Scripps

Hi Meg,

We have just a couple days left in Select. If you have any further materials you want to upload to support your video, please let me know! We'd love to have you flesh this out a bit further before!


Photo of Meg Dana

Emma - I uploaded a photo and a reading response from one of my students. Meg

Photo of Gaynor Brown

Hi Meg - How is this working when you are trying it with your students? I saw from a previous comment that you were on break. I am curious if this has been successful. I am hoping that it is. Are there any changes you would make now you are getting feedback from students?

Photo of Amy Tucker

I love this idea. I always have students try to read a variety of genres, but I like asking them to expand in more ways. Growing up, I didn't always love reading about people or places I couldn't relate to, but since becoming an adult and meeting more people and traveling, I enjoy it more. I would like to have students do these three challenges AND try to make connections with others around these challenges. Maybe we can meet someone who is like a character in the book who is unlike the reader; maybe we can explore a topic in more depth. :) Thank you!

Photo of Michael Schurr

Meg! How are you? So happy to see you back on the Guild! This is a cool idea, I wonder how we could iterate on it. Maybe you could do a little need finding with you students. Who are they, how do they identify. Could book suggestions be based on an area they want to grow? Or, could peers suggest books based off of some yet to be determined peer interview type activity? Just spitballing ideas. Hope all is well at your new school!

Photo of Lisa Yokana

I love this idea and have learned a lot myself about other cultures and areas through literature. One thought, it would be great if you could add a picture to go with your post. It just helps others want to read what you've written! What are some of the benefits you've seen in your classroom because of doing this with your students? Have they been curious about other cultures? Have they been more inclusive? I'd love to hear what you've seen.

Photo of Meg Dana

Thanks for your suggestions. I will find a picture to add. (I'm on break this week but will add some of my students reading when I return to school). The "Reading Without Walls" is a project I am starting after break, so I don't have answers to your questions yet.