Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and use of diverse picturebooks to support reading development and social-emotional skills are gaining acceptance and broader use. With this shift, new measures of efficacy are needed to confirm, bolster, and source new policies and strategies for family and classroom literacy practices. To this end, the Reading Builds Empathy (RBE) literacy study sought to develop and pilot a new instrument that uses picturebook reading as a way to understand empathy development. The RBE study participants included 21 parent-child dyads (N = 42) and piloted a tool that was created to measure children’s empathy development for children ages six–eight. The tool includes collecting parent reports of children’s at-home literacy practices and engagement with picturebooks as well as parents’ perspectives on their child’s empathy development. The tool also includes a researcher-administered tool to directly measure children’s empathy development in a developmentally appropriate format across three domains: affective, cognitive, and ethnocultural empathy. This paper describes the process for instrument development, initial pilot data, considerations for changes to the instrument, and ideas for how the instrument can be used in future intervention studies.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aram, D., & Shapira, R. (2012). Parent-child shared book reading and children’s language, literacy, and empathy development (pp. 55–65). Firenze University Press.
Arizpe, E., & Styles, M. (2003). A gorilla with ‘grandpa’s eyes’: how children interpret ironic visual texts. In E. Arizpe & M. Styles (Eds.), Children reading pictures: Interpreting visual texts (pp. 77–96). Routledge Falmer.
Asakawa, K., Iwawaki, S., Mondori, Y., & Minami, H. (1988). Altruism in school and empathy: A developmental study of Japanese pupils. In meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Tokyo.
Bandura, A., & Walters, R. H. (1977). Social learning theory (Vol. 1). Prentice Hall.
Beckett, S. L. (2013). Crossover picturebooks: A genre for all ages. Routledge.
Bishop, R. S. (1990, March). Windows and mirrors: Children’s books and parallel cultures. In California State University reading conference: 14th annual conference proceedings (pp.3–12).
Bracken, S. S., & Fischel, J. E. (2008). Family reading behavior and early literacy skills in preschool children from low-income backgrounds. Early Education and Development, 19(1), 45–67.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. Successful qualitative research (pp. 1–400). Sage Publications Ltd.
Clark, C. T., Chrisman, A., & Lewis, S. G. (2021). Using picturebooks to teach with and against social and emotional learning. Language Arts, 98(5), 246–259.
Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16(3), 297–334.
Davis, M. H. (1980). Interpersonal reactivity index. APA PsycTests. https://doi.org/10.1037/t01093-000.
DeLuca, G. (1984). Art, illusion and children’s picturebooks. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 9(1), 21–23. https://doi.org/10.1353/chq.0.0255
Dowdall, N., Melendez-Torres, G. J., Murray, L., Gardner, F., Hartford, L., & Cooper, P. J. (2020). Shared picture book reading interventions for child language development: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Child Development, 91(2), e383–e399.
Dulemba, E. (2022). Covid, inclusivity, and mindfulness: Three years of picture book trends. Publishers Weekly, online. Retrived october 2022, from, https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/bytopic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/90747-covid-inclusivity-and-mindfulness-three-years-of-picture-book-trends.html
Evans, J. (2009). Creative and aesthetic responses to picturebooks and fine art. Education, 3–13(2), 177–190. 37.
Garces-Bacsal, R. M. (2022). Diverse books for diverse children: Building an early childhood diverse booklist for social and emotional learning. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 22(1), 66–95.
Gonzalez, J. (2020). Creating moments of genuine connection online. [Audio podcast]. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrived 2020, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/genuine-connection-online//.
Gunn, A. A., Bennett, S. V., & Peterson, B. J. (2022). Exploring Multicultural Picturebooks with Social–Emotional themes. Read Teach, 76, 362–374. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.2145.
Harper, L. J. (2016). Using picture books to promote social-emotional literacy. Young Children, 71(3), 80.
Hefflin, B. R., & Barksdale-Ladd, M. A. (2001). African American children’s literature that helps students find themselves: Selection guidelines for grades K-3. The Reading Teacher, 54(8), 810–819.
Hoffman, M. L. (1975). Moral internalization, parental power, and the nature of parent-child interaction. Developmental Psychology, 11(2), 228.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465–491.
Mahoney, J. L., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2018). An update on social and emotional learning outcome research. Phi Delta Kappa, 100(4), 18–23.
Marinak, B. A., Malloy, J. B., Gambrell, L. B., & Mazzoni, S. A. (2015). Me and my reading profile: A tool for assessing early reading motivation. The Reading Teacher, 69(1), 51–62.
Montag, J. L. (2019). Differences in sentence complexity in the text of children’s picturebooks and child-directed speech. First Language, 39(5), 527–546.
Nikolajeva, M. (2013). Picturebooks and emotional literacy. The Reading Teacher, 67(4), 249–254. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1229.
Paul, P., & Russo, M. (2019). How to raise a reader. Workman Publishing Company.
Pendharkar, E. (2023). Over 300 picturebooks were banned last school year. Education week, digital. Retrived February, 2023, from https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/over-300-picture-books-were-banned-last-school-year/2023/02
Positive Action. (2023). Positive action curriculum & program. Elementary curriculum [Kit]. Positive Action. https://www.positiveaction.net/
Puglisi, M. L., Hulme, C., Hamilton, L. G., & Snowling, M. J. (2017). The home literacy environment is a correlate, but perhaps not a cause, of variations in children’s language and literacy development. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21(6), 498–514.
Serafini, F. (2015). Multimodal literacy: From theories to practices. Language Arts, 92(6), 412–423.
Sharp, D. (1991). Jung lexicon. The Jung Page. Reflections on psychology culture and life, pp. 201–213.
Sipe, L., & Pantaleo, S. (2008). Introduction. Postmodernism and picturebooks. Postmodern picturebooks: Play, parody, and self-referentiality (pp. 1–8). Routledge.
Scholastic. (2023). Social-emotional learning. Retrieved March 15, 2023 from https://shop.scholastic.com/teachers-ecommerce/teacher/shops/social-emotional.html
Wang, Y. W., Davidson, M. M., Yakushko, O. F., Savoy, H. B., Tan, J. A., & Bleier, J. K. (2003). The scale of ethnocultural empathy: Development, validation, and reliability. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 50(2), 221.
Wickens, C., & Parker, J. (2022). Integrating literature in physical education: Read-alouds, young adult literature and graphic novels. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 93(6), 35–41.
Williams-Sanchez, V. L. (2015). Eddie and the hot cocoa hot rod. Lulu Publishing Services.
Williams-Sanchez, V. L. (2021). Reading builds empathy: Piloting a literacy tool to measure reading’s impact on kids’ empathy development. St. John’s University.
Conflict of interest
The authors have not disclosed any competing interests.
This study received Institutional Review Board approval. This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Written consent for participation and publication of findings was obtained.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Williams-Sanchez, V.L., Cook, K.D. The Reading Builds Empathy Pilot Survey: Picturebooks for Empathy Development. Early Childhood Educ J (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-023-01574-9