Exploring Environmental Empathy in Action with Children's Books

By Holm, Daniel | Reading Improvement, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Exploring Environmental Empathy in Action with Children's Books


Holm, Daniel, Reading Improvement


Adults and children around the world are actively engaged in making the environment a better place. Their efforts include recycling, adopting whales and acres of the rain forest, as well as, cleaning up after oil spills and revitalizing eco-systems. This caring for the environment is what is defined in this article as "environmental empathy in action" Environmental empathy in action occurs when a person realizes that there is an environmental problem, is concerned about the problem, and then actively tries to solve the environmental problem.

In addition to defining environmental empathy in action, this article highlights both fiction and nonfiction children's books where the characters are actively trying to protect the environment. These stories, which contain characters engaged in what is termed environmental empathy in action, provides a springboard for discussing both environmental issues and ways in which people are trying to solve these issues. A reference list of children's books is included at the end of the article.

**********

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." (from The Lorax, Dr. Seuss,)

"I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues." (from The Lorax, Dr. Seuss,)

Students raise money to "adopt" a whale, save acres of rain forest, or start a recycling program at their schools. Why are these students engaged in these types of activities? Why would they use their time, energy, and money to protect the environment? One explanation is that they care about the environment and are driven to action as they "speak for the trees?' An example of this is when, in 1987, a group of Swedish school children raised funds to purchase and protect acreage in the rain forest of Costa Rico.

Caring is a type of empathy. Empathy is viewed as an important characteristic of the socially intelligent individual (Goleman, 2006). There is not a universal agreement as to what are the characteristics of empathy. Empathy is sometimes referred to as a cognitive process (Deutsch & Madle, 1975). Feshbach (1975), however, views empathy as an affective process in which a person is able to "share an emotional response with another as well as the ability to discriminate the other's perspective and role" (p. 145). Eisenberg and Strayer (1990) view empathy as "an emotional response that stems from another's emotional state or condition and is congruent with the other's emotional state or situation" (p.5). Ekman, as reported by Goleman (2007) identifies three types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Ekman's three categories provide a useful way to frame an understanding of empathy. Cognitive empathy, according to Ekman, is the ability to know how another is feeling. It can be thought of as an intellectual knowledge. We can know that people are being hurt or killed throughout the world. We have an understanding that this is occurring. Emotional empathy is emotionally experiencing the feeling of the other. An example would be feeling the loss of a parent, whose child is killed in a war. Compassionate empathy, includes cognitive and emotional empathy. However, compassionate empathy moves a person to action. The compassionate empathic person must act.

Compassionate empathic responses are usually associated between and among people. And yet, when people are environmentally concerned, they too, are being empathetic. Sobel (1996) believes that children's empathy with the natural world is critical. When students have a cognitive empathic understanding of environmental issues and are emotionally connected to the environment, they are driven to want to make changes. This compassionate empathic response of wanting to protect the environment will be referred to as "environmental empathy in action."

Environmental empathy in action occurs when people help save animals covered in oil from an oil spill. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Exploring Environmental Empathy in Action with Children's Books
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.