Empathy for Others
This is by far the largest category, offering stories that feature protagonists who may appear different than what our society or culture would consider “normal” or “average.” Or, the protagonist may be having an experience that is out of the ordinary or not something that happens every day—like having a brother with autism or being relocated by the government under the witness protection program. Many of these stories are told from the first-person point of view, inviting the reader to walk in the protagonist’s shoes, see life from their perspective, and to feel what it’s like to encounter the obstacles and judgments their differences or experiences may cause. Any book chosen will also show the protagonist’s own growth and development, as well as that of the others in their community (school, friends, and family). Priority will be given to those stories that show the gifts that come with perceived differences for both the individual and his or her community, as well as what a supportive, compassionate community looks like.