Online reading and COVID-19: the low down

Posted by Amy Gerrish on Tuesday June 9th, 2020

*UPDATED: see below for extended video permissions.*

Calling all teachers, librarians and childcare professionals!

We've been really moved by the amount of requests we've received from people (mainly teachers!) across the country that are asking if it's okay to keep reading our books online to their class while we're living in this new, strange world.

In short: YES! These times are challenging, and we're particularly sensitive to the needs of children to continue their learning and to reap the many benefits that good literature brings them. But, there are a few things we need you to do to ensure that this is done in a way that allows us to continue making great books in the future!

We want to support you in your efforts, and ask that if you choose to read your book online to your students you follow these guidelines:

  • At the beginning of your video, please state that you are presenting your reading 'with permission from Chicken House.'
  • You post your reading through your school's platform or another closed group or platform with limited access for your students. Should this not be possible please let us know.
  • Since we view this as a way to compensate for the closure of schools, please delete your video or disable access no later than 5pm 30th August 2020.

If you are happy to agree to the above terms please let us know, confirming the title of the book you wish to read online together with the name of the author and illustrator, by contacting elinor@chickenhousebooks.comBy posting a reading, you are agreeing to abide by the above terms.

We've also got heaps of educational resources in our dedicated Schools' Hub - take a look, and you might just find some ready-made activities relating to the book you and your class are sharing!

Twitter: @chickenhsebooks

Instagram: @chickenhousebooks

Facebook: @chickenhousebooks

Thanks for taking the time to read this update. Here's to staying happy and healthy!

Empathy Day 2020

Posted by Amy Gerrish on Tuesday June 9th, 2020

It’s Empathy Day – a day that is perhaps needed now more than ever. Today, we’re focusing on how we can use books as a tool for imagining and sharing someone else’s feelings.

We asked the book experts (our authors!) to share what empathy means to them, and why it’s important to them as authors. Over to you, Chickens!

Maz Evans

To me, empathy means walking at least a mile in someone else's shoes. Although you should probably give their shoes back once you're done…

James Nicol

To me, empathy means sharing and connecting with someone else through feelings and emotions. It's about being sensitive and aware of other people and situations. I think it is often undervalued and dismissed, but if everyone was more empathetic I think the world would be a much better place.

As an author, empathy is really important because it is our most important job to take our readers into the lives of people who are different from us – they might be witches, or dragons, or just someone who lives in a different town or country. We have to help the readers feel a connection to the characters we create so they know what that person's life is like – it’s as simple (and as complex!) as that. And not just the main characters but all those supporting characters, and even the antagonist! Forming that empathetic link with an antagonist makes them feel more real and less like a pantomime baddie!

The whole act of writing is one of empathy for me, and reading helps us to be more empathetic as it can really show us someone else's emotions there on the page, helping us to understand and recognise them in the real world too.

Jasbinder Bilan

To me, empathy means stepping into someone else’s skin and seeing the world as if you were them. In Asha and the Spirit Bird you can become Asha, living in the foothills of the Himalaya, and feel her pain when her papa’s letters stop and she doesn’t know what’s happened to him.

You can experience how having a best friend like Jeevan can help you overcome anything, whether it’s tigers or hunger – and you can imagine how having a spirit bird could get you through some tough things in life. Empathy shines a light on our humanity and connects us all together.

Lucy Strange

As an author, empathy is really important because it's what makes stories so meaningful and valuable. When we read a book, we step into the character's shoes, feeling their joys and fears and triumphs as if they are our own.

In my book, Our Castle by the Sea, I wanted to bring Petra's frightening wartime experience to life for my readers – for them to imagine what it would have been like living on the coast of England during the Second World War, and to understand what happened to the thousands of 'enemy aliens' who were living in the UK at the time.

Reading such stories with empathy can help us all to understand dangerous feelings such as hatred and prejudice, and to see through the propaganda of politics and the press. If we all exercise empathy a little more, the world will become a better, kinder place.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

To me, empathy means imagining your way into another person's life, into their body, their experiences, with the purpose of gaining understanding and becoming a better person.

As an author, empathy is really important because it's the only way the world can become kinder. I write to show the world as it is, and could be, and empathy is the most important tool in my kit.

For more Empathy Day 2020 resources, be sure to take a look at the official Twitter feed here. You can also download an Empathy Day activity pack here!


Categories: Blog Misc