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August 25, 2021 @ 6:04 am

Season 5 Ep. 102 The Building Books of Empathy with guest Melissa Hart

This week’s episode is a nod to back-to-school season when teachers can get books
into the hands of kids after a summer of free days, endless video games, and probably too many popsicles. We are joined by Melissa Hart from Eugene Oregon. She is the author of 2 memoirs, a middle grade book, and most recently a great resource for teachers, librarians, and parents called Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens.

When Melissa’s tween daughter was in elementary school, she dealt with anxiety and depression, and Melissa found a way to help her through reading targeted books together, a practice called bibliotherapy which some studies suggest is effective in the treatment of some forms of depression. But the list of books in Better With Books can also help a young person develop empathy and be more accepting of others who have different experiences from their own such as individuals with physical disabilities, mental health struggles, body image issues, and students from different religious backgrounds.

You can find find Melissa on instagram @wildmelissahart or at her website at

Books mentioned--

1- Better with Books: 500 Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens by Melissa Hart
2- Pinballs by Betsy Ayers
3- What Goes Up Must Come Down by Johanna Hurwitz
4- Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
5- Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
6- The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson
7- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
8- Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
9- Ten Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac
10- If I Ever Get Out of Here (audiobook) by Eric Gansworth
11- Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
12- Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart
13- Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family by Melissa Hart
14- Dune by Frank Herbert
15- Dune Messiah (Book 2) by Frank Herbert
16- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
17- The Overstory by Richard Powers
18- There, There by Tommy Orange
19- Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen
20- Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
21- Pax by Sara Pennypacker
22- The One and Only Bob / The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
23- Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
24- Watership Down by Richard Adams

Movies mentioned--
1- Dune (October 2021), directed by Denis Villeneuve

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