Unselfie

(Touchstone)

 

In a society that focuses on putting the needs and rights of one's own self first, empathy is often sorely lacking. Unselfie points to the benefits of empathy, and teaches parents how to train their children to become people who are able to identify the feelings of others, and become agents of change in the world around them.

 

Author: Michele Borba, Ed.D.

Genre: Non-fiction

Reader Appeal: Adults/Parents

 

Unselfie is probably not a book I would have chosen to read on my own. If I’d come across this book in a bookstore or library, it's not one that would have jumped off the shelf and into my hands. The title is awkward, and the cover is, well, boring. So when I was handed this book, my first reaction wasn't one of intense interest. But when I opened the cover and began reading, I realized how wrong I had been. Reminds me of a saying I've heard once or twice..."Never judge a book by its cover."

 

Studying empathy in children has been Michele Borba's passion. It's what she believes children "need to be happy and successful." It turns out that kids who are empathetic are more successful in school, more outgoing, popular, and generally emotionally well-adjusted. But our society has turned from being others focused, to being centered on ourselves. Hence the ever-popular selfie that turns up regularly on social media. Everyone wants to see me and what I'm eating or doing every moment of the day, right? Well, not so much, as it turns out.

 

What is a parent to do? How do you fight the current that has overtaken our kids and caused unprecedented bullying and loss of personal interaction (being replaced instead by texting and social media)? Unselfie is truly an amazing resource for parents and teachers alike. This is not a boring textbook in which you find yourself fighting to stay awake while reading. Borba breaks teaching empathy into nine habits, and each one takes up a bite-sized chapter. She gives interesting and applicable stories to illustrate each point, as well as specific actions parents can take to begin developing empathy in their children. She begins with easy steps like building an emotional vocabulary or becoming "feeling detectives," and advances to practicing moral courage and providing opportunities for your child to make a difference in the community.

 

This is a book I would encourage every parent to read, especially (not to sound sexist) parents of boys. Studies show that we tend to discuss feelings with our girls more than with our boys, and generally have the opinion that girls are emotional and boys don't cry or show their feelings. How much conflict in marriage might be resolved if boys were taught to read others emotions more adeptly and share their own feelings more readily? It's an interesting idea to consider.

 

While the cover of Unselfie looks like a boring textbook, don't be deceived. It's really a book you need to read!

 

--JW

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