While the mission of Changing Perspectives comes alive in the classrooms of our partner schools, our staff and board do a lot of work behind-the-scenes to bring our lessons to life. Because the Changing Perspectives curriculum includes a lot of books, our librarian is busy keeping up-to-date on the latest books about empathy, kindness, disabilities, and differences. We invite you to learn a little more about Beth Reynolds, the librarian extraordinaire at Changing Perspectives:
Beth lives in Thetford, VT in a 200 year old home with her husband and many pets. As the librarian at Changing Perspectives, Beth identifies all the books included in the Changing Perspectives curriculum. She also formulates the discussion questions that are included in the lessons. “I try and imagine each book being used in the classroom and think about ways to highlight certain sections of the book to promote meaningful and though-provoking discussions,” she says.
Beth also works as the head of the children’s department at the Norwich Public Library and also as a bookseller at the Norwich Bookstore on the weekends. Below is a condensed interview with Beth:
What made you want to get involved with Changing Perspectives?
Beth: I try to live my life in the kindest way possible. I have the great fortune of choosing books that will engage and excite children. The books should also encourage curiosity and empathy. Working for Changing Perspectives lets me focus on finding books that can bring the most meaning to a child’s life and can hopefully spark that kindness to someone they might view as different.
What do you hope Changing Perspectives can accomplish in the future?
Beth: During my time with Changing Perspectives, I have been so excited to discover books that focus on disabilities or including characters with disabilities. Many of them are also ‘own voices’ titles which adds a depth of authentic sensitivity. With a plethora of books finally hitting the mainstream, more and more kids are starting to discover what life is like for someone with a disability. I would love to see schools all over the country focus on awareness and embrace our curriculum for all of their students. I see that as a small step to help create a more caring, empathetic society.
Why do you think empathy-building curriculum and disability awareness is important?
Beth: I see children every day and I am often in awe of their ability to find joy and to have fun just by using their imagination. I see how kind they can be to a friend or someone they’ve just met. As these children get older they lose some of their openness and acceptance. It’s often replaced by fear of the unknown or need to be liked by their peers, which can cause them to be less kind. I want to be able to give children the windows through which they can view another person’s struggle and see how similar we all are.
6) What did you most love about being a librarian?
Beth: I love having the chance to recommend books to kids and their parents and to form a real relationship with these families. Libraries are the last democratic space where a child can have a transactional interaction. There’s no money involved — just a library card! As a librarian, I am one of the few people involved in their lives that is not a parent, teacher or coach. Hopefully we’re helping to create a strong foundational childhood.
Follow this link to discover a book-list of Beth-approved books on empathy.