Empathy Collection Blog Tour
What is EmpathyLab?
Empathy-Boosting Book Choice: Our Tower
The team at Empathy Lab invited us to choose one of the titles in the collection to showcase as a brilliant empathy-boosting recommendation. We’ve selected Our Tower by Joseph Coelho & Richard Johnson, which was chosen by our Review Panel as one of our Books of the Month back in December.
Our Tower tells the story of three children living in a tower block. Viewing their environment as “concrete and grey”, they decide to seek out the glimpse of green they can see high up from their window.
Finding the tree they have longed to see reveals a secret world of magic. Tumbling deep inside, they find “a world deeper than anything Our Tower has ever seen.” But the most significant discovery is the tree-grown man living within, who opens their eyes to the true magic. With his words, the children see that magic is everywhere, including in their tower. A tower full of love and community.
This is a beautiful story inspired by author Joseph Coelho’s own experience of growing up in a tower block and the author’s real-life experiences weave a deep element of empathy through the story, offering insight into the literal highs and lows of an urban upbringing.
The new Children’s Laureate brilliantly showcases the diversity and the incredible sense of community that living in a tower block is able to provide, showing how the real community is so much more magical than the boring, hard and grey high-rise flats that appear to dominate urban skylines. The tale brings a message about urbanisation, where there’s a perceived distinction between countryside and urban spaces, yet this reminds us that nature is all around us, wherever we live, and everyone should have access to it.
Every page is a feast for the eyes with stunning and sumptuous illustrations by Richard Johnson. The colours perfectly reflect the mood of the poetic narrative, changing from dull greys to magical purples to vibrant, magical technicolour.
As always, the talent of Joseph Coelho’s writing expertly combines writing in verse and poetry with inspiring rich vocabulary.
Author Joseph Coelho says, “Writing is itself a form of empathy, as writers and illustrators we put ourselves into the shoes of our characters hoping to share something fundamental about human nature and the inevitability of our togetherness. ” How about pairing this story with other stories set in tower blocks or flats? Ask your pupils to explore whether the other books share the same sense of community and ‘inevitability of our togetherness’? Some of our favourites include Boy in the Tower, High Rise Mystery and The Extraordinary Gardener.
For more information about the Read for Empathy collection, please visit the EmpathyLab website.