As our children re-enter school, I Walk With Vanessa: a story about a simple act of kindness highlights the importance of empathy. Due to COVID-19, many children have been away from their friends for a very long time, and empathy is an important social skill, which deepens the quality of relationships, especially for those who are returning to in-classroom learning. I Walk With Vanessa conveys Kerascoet’s message of empathy only through beautiful illustrations; this book is wordless.
Vanessa is a shy student, a quality that isolates her during her first day at a new school. When she walks home from school by herself, she becomes the target of a bully whose angry expressions indicate he’s verbally abusing her. One observant student in a nearby group of her classmates notices the bully’s effect on Vanessa. This student’s empathetic journey is illustrated on her face. Read the book to see how this will inspire her to make a positive change.
Kerascoet portrays the diverse young characters in watercolor with distinct outlines. This relevant, thoughtful, and quite touching book offers a great entry point to discuss bullying and empathy with children. Since this a wordless picture book, readers of I Walk With Vanessa must put themselves in the minds of the characters and imagine what they may be thinking, saying, and feeling. This approach invites the reader to practice empathy as they read.
I Walk With Vanessa showcases the importance of empathy, and how a little kindness can go a long way! Picking this book up for your child could also be an exercise in empathy. Many local independent bookstores are in need of support during COVID-19’s effect on small businesses. This title is available through the websites of McNally Jackson and Word. You can also borrow it from the Brooklyn Public Library’s website and pick it up at: Bushwick Library, Williamsburgh Library, or the newly reopened Greenpoint Library!