Core Empathy Standards (CES)


  • (I can…) Empathize: Students cultivate empathy for others, as they practice seeing situations and events from another person’s point of view—to see what they see, feel what they feel. Students also learn self-empathy, the ability to feel empathy for themselves in a challenging situation—rather than shame or self-judgment.

  • (I can…) Discern: While students are practicing empathy for others, they also are learning how to discern the differences between their feelings and values and the other person’s feelings and values.

  • (I can...) Name My Feelings: Students learn how to notice feelings and name them. Students will practice how to communicate and express their feelings in a safe and beneficial manner.

  • (I can…) Actively Listen: Students practice active listening to each other during whole group discussions and during partnership sharing as a way to honor each other’s ideas and to inspire their own ideas.   

  • (I can…) Collaborate: Students practice collaboration through a variety of activities in which they practice sharing and incorporating each other’s ideas and contributions.

  • (I can…) Appreciate: Students practice noticing and expressing appreciation for each other’s contributions to the learning community.

  • (I can…) Imagine: Students practice using their imagination to “picture” themselves in another person’s shoes or situation in order to determine what that might be like. Another term for this step would be “perspective taking.”

  • (I can…) Communicate Non-Violently: Students practice nonviolent communication skills that allow them to diffuse conflict and open themselves to understanding, empathy and compassion.

  • (I can…) Find common ground: Students learn to search for areas of common ground with people, classmates and characters within a story they may deem different than themselves. Common ground is the gateway into empathy.

  • (I can…) Tell My Story: Students learn how to “tell the stories” of their lives in a way that helps others understand and empathize with them. We can’t empathize with other human beings until they are able to share their life experiences in an effective manner.

CCSS: Core Curriculum State Standards for Literacy


(a list of primary skills that the curriculum focuses on and that it supports particularly well)







How are stories selected?


  • First and foremost, all books that are eventually chosen will be considered good literature, the cornerstone of any effective literacy program.

  • Texts must match reading levels, be age appropriate, encourage new vocabulary, and use language in creative ways, thereby offering good models for the learning of core proficiencies.

  • Stories must inspire reader empathy in their protagonists and other characters.

  • Priority will be given to books that appear on library and teacher reading lists, as well as those that have received literary awards.  

  • Stories must inspire lively discussion and creative expression activities.



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